Friday, May 16, 2014

Day 5: Diabetes Life Hacks

Share the (non-medical) tips and tricks that help you in the day-to-day management of diabetes.  Tell us everything from clothing modifications, serving size/carb counting tricks to the tried and true Dexcom-in-a-glass trick or the “secret” to turning on a Medtronic pump’s backlight when not on the home-screen (scroll to the bottom of this post). Please remember to give non-medical advice only!

The list of hacks above mostly revolve around technology.  As someone who doesn’t use insulin I don’t have much technology in my life with diabetes.  I have a meter.  Not much to hack there.  I need to buy strips and I need to remember to take it with me when I’ll be away from home for very long.  I’m actually feeling kinda bummed because I love me some technology, but, in this instance, I’m ok without it.  I greatly admire all the D peeps who are using technology in their lives to better control their diabetes.  CGMs are the bomb!  The advances in diabetes technology has made it possible for my T1 friends to live safer, easier lives and that’s nothing short of wonderful.

So what kind of hacks do I have in my life with diabetes?  I have a few but they revolve around food.  EVERYTHING in this dang world revolves around food!!  Since controlling what I eat is the most important thing I can do to control my blood sugar, it helps to have a few hacks to assist me in my all-too-often struggles with food.  Here are some of the tools I use.  They aren’t necessarily original but they work.

This first one makes me feel like an old geezer (and it's not about food but I do ingest it).  I use a weekly pill box for all my meds and supplements.  I excel at thinking about doing something and then I can’t remember if I actually did it or not.  The weekly pill box helps with that.  I know that if I don’t take my oral meds it isn’t going to immediately affect me like forgetting insulin would, but if I don’t take it, it isn’t going to help me control my blood sugars.

The freezer

  • Small containers.  I have some small Rubbermaid containers that hold about ½ cup.  I use them in a lot of ways but my best “hack” with them is to divvy up desserts that can be frozen.  When I make a dessert, like peanut butter pie, that I KNOW I’ll eat too much of if I’m not careful, I’ll divide it into these little containers and pop them in the freezer.  That helps to keep me from eating too much and I can still enjoy the treat on occasion.  (Important point: divide them as soon as you make said dessert.  Don’t wait until you’ve had some and think you’re going to freeze the rest.  You’ll thank me later.)

  • Freezing my “bread”.  I make a bread that is mostly eggs and parmesan cheese which is wonderful!  I think it’s tasty and it doesn’t mess with my blood sugar.  It’s expensive and it will spoil if I don’t eat it quickly enough, so I slice it as soon as it cools, put waxed paper between the slices and freeze it.

  • Frozen veggies.  This isn’t anything amazing or new, but I always have bags of frozen vegetables available.  I suck at buying fresh and using it before it spoils so having them readily available in the freezer ensures that I’ll eat some every day.  Oh, and don’t microwave them.  Blech.  I invested in a nice steamer pot or use one of those inexpensive baskets.

Snacks  Ugh, snacks are so difficult.  For me, it’s best to spend more money in order to help control my snacking.  Here are a few examples:

  • Mini bell peppers.  I love bell peppers!  It would be lots cheaper for me to buy full-size peppers, cut them into strips and have them in the fridge, ready to snack upon.  Let’s get real.  Instead, I buy those bags of mini peppers, rinse them in vinegar water (to remove that waxy stuff and whatever other crap comes on our veggies these days) and keep them in the fridge.  SO easy to grab a few to eat and they are yummy.

  • Wholly Guacamole in individual packages.  My grocery store sells lots of different kinds of pre-made guac but I can never seem to eat it all before it goes bad (and Ray doesn’t like it at all).  Now I buy the boxes with 4 individual packets and I’m gold!  I like to use it as a spread on sandwiches or a dip.  Yum!  Oh and this variety isn't filled with ingredients I don’t want or need.  Just good guac.

  • Actual avocados…in the skin with that rock in the middle.  I love avocado and to read that it’s actually healthy and good for us makes me break out in spaztastic dancing!  I have been known to take a half of an avocado, pour a bit of Italian dressing in the middle and eat it with a spoon.  Scrumptious!

Things I know how to do but rarely do but I really should start doing again:

  • I like to bake my own healthier cookies (without much flour and sugar etc).  I need to start freezing them as soon as they have cooled.  I usually don’t.

  • Making meals ahead and freezing them.  I really don’t enjoy making dinner unless I feel like making dinner.  If I’m not into it, it’s too easy to eat something less healthy.  Dinners in the freezer would fix that.  Hello!

  • Make my own mixed nuts.  I don’t mean actually making the nuts but mixing them myself. (I’m good but not that good.) In the past I’ve purchased bulk nuts like almonds, walnuts and pecans all without salt.  I also buy cashews and shelled pistachios with salt.  When mixed all together they are way less salty then the commercially mixed nuts.  Great snacks.  Why have I stopped doing this?

Eating out:

  • I usually ask for a to-go box at the beginning of the meal and put half of whatever I ordered into the box.  (This doesn’t work well with soup.  Just thought I’d clue you in on that).

  • Remove the top bun from a burger and use the lettuce instead.  (Doesn’t work if the restaurant uses shredded lettuce.  I’m just full of great advice!  You’re welcome.)

  • Use a knife and fork to eat a sandwich, avoiding the bread all together.  Who says you have to eat the bread?

  • Order sliced tomatoes instead of hash browns with your breakfast and skip the toast all together.  If it’s not on your plate, you can’t eat it.

I can’t think of anything else.  None of these “hacks” are anything new or amazing but they help me navigate the complicated world of food which can help me to better control my blood sugar.  Maybe they’ll help you too.
Read about other diabetes hacks here.


  1. I love these hacks, especially the one about portioning desserts out and putting them in the freezer. I definitely need portions control when it comes to dessert so I don't graze or go back for seconds. This would definitely work for me!!

  2. I usually don't eat the bread either on sandwiches at restaurants! To me they aren't "bolus-worthy" :-P. Also, I'm trying to work on freezing meals as well. Great list! :)

  3. You make bread? Wow, yum!
    I like your ideas.
    We do a lot of grilling (once the snow melts) and always grill and then freeze extra. It helps,

  4. How have I missed mini bell peppers?? Those would be perfect for me. I also like the idea of mixing salted & unsalted nuts to get a decent balance -- great hacks!

  5. Great hacks, Kate. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Great hacks! What is your bread recipe? Thanks!

    1. I'm sorry that I didn't see this sooner. You can find my bread recipe here:


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