For eight years I have worked towards becoming a resource for athletes and active individuals with type-1 diabetes. And recently, I’ve seen firsthand how incredibly effective my role will be in healthcare, sport and the diabetes community.
Through October and November, I spent six weeks working with Canadian Sport Institute as part of my dietetics practicum.
It was an AMAZING experience working with Olympic level athletes in swimming, rugby, mountain biking, volleyball, and various winter sports. It was incredible conversing and deliberating with some of the most coveted sport dietitians in Canada.
The first day, when I told my preceptor/supervisor my life intentions, her eyes widened, and her voice got excited:
“Would you be interested in focusing your project for this placement on type-1 diabetes?” she asked.
“You could summarize the literature on the nutrition guidelines for this population,” she suggested.
“You could even inject your own personal experiences as an athlete with this disease,” she enthused.
“You could create an infographic for the athletes,” she proposed.
“You could present your findings to the CSI sport RDs,” she encouraged.
She was practically jumping up and down, she was so excited.
I’d love to tell you that I held my composure well, but if we’re being completely honest, I was just as ecstatic and wanted to swing her around in circles for allowing me this opportunity!
For one week of the placement I was in Victoria working with the Rugby 7s women’s and men’s teams. There, I was allowed the opportunity to present to the sport dietitian.
When the Whistler crew got wind of my goals and research, they requested I do a presentation for their winter sport coaches.
The presentations were slightly different.
The one for the RDs outlined the recommended nutritional guidelines based on the research and the realities of whether or not this population is following those guidelines (predominantly we’re not) and the reasons why they’re not – all with a sprinkling of me and few other of my beloved sporty T1Ds.
The one for the coaches detailed what type-1 diabetes is, the signs and symptoms of high and low blood glucose and how that impacts performance. It also offered suggestions on how a team can best support its T1D athletes, such as providing a kit of fast-absorbing carbohydrates (juice boxes, applesauce pouches, gummies, Gatorade, etc.) for when blood sugars go low, and making sure the athlete knows where it is at all times. Also, communicating from the get-go with the athlete as to how they would like the team to be involved, if at all.
Pretty simple stuff, but necessary for those who don’t know much about this disease.
Given that our Olympic athletes will be facing high heat in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and our winter athletes are often exposed to the super cold, I also talked about the failings of diabetes technology in extreme temperatures and offered tips on how to keep them at optimal temps.
Finally, my last presentation was provided to the sport RDs within CSI-Pacific.
It started shaky.
My blood sugars had bottomed out minutes before the start of the online presentation.
Bloody freaking hell!
But once I got into a groove (and my BG started increasing) it went so well.
There were so many questions, and so much dialogue, and I loved every second of it.
When one of the dietitians announced she’d probably just call me the next time she has a T1D athlete, my heart nearly burst out of my skin.
Following the presentation, my preceptor told me I am well on my way to becoming a go-to expert with this niche population.
“You’ve certainly made an impact with our organization,” she told me.
“You be you and you’re going to go far in this industry!”
My goals aren’t just about the nutrition. They’re not just about the sport. They’re 100% about the advocacy – advocacy for a piece of this disease that so regularly gets ignored.
Not anymore, my friends 😀