Diabetes: An Interview with Mother and Health Coach Deborah Johnsen

Have you made any real connections through Instagram? It’s amazing how this little tool has connected me to so many others on the wholistic health journey. One such lady that I met is Deborah. She has much to share on living with Diabetes.

Hi Deborah,  Could you start by telling us a little bit about your story with diabetes and what began your passion in this area?

My daughter was diagnosed at the age of 4, with Type 1 diabetes. I remember the hospital staff brought in breakfast for her, and it was a tray of pancakes with syrup and cereal with milk. I thought that they had the rooms confused, but they said, “no, she can eat whatever she wants.” That was my “ah-ha” moment. Although she would need insulin, I also believed that there were other ways that I could support her autoimmune disease. Driven by the desire to help my daughter, I was fortunate to advance my personal knowledge of these matters by becoming a Certified Holistic Health Coach through The Institute of Integrative Nutrition. I’ve lived the real-life struggles and have the solutions that help our family manage this autoimmune disease! I now understand how nutrient-dense foods, exercise, stress, and sleep all play an important role in managing blood sugar and insulin sensitivity.

What is the number one misconception of a diabetes lifestyle that you have found in your work?  

You don’t need to be deprived to live a healthy lifestyle. Honestly, everyone should be eating the way a person with diabetes should eat. People don’t realize the effect sugar has on their bodies. Eating whole foods, while limiting sugar and processed foods provides the nourishment that your body needs to function correctly. 

What signs should people look for in themselves or others to see if they might be diabetic?  Is it something that they can prevent?

The symptoms of Type 1 diabetes are: 

Excessive thirst⁣⁣
Frequent urination⁣⁣
Vision change⁣⁣
Rapid weight loss⁣⁣
Irritability ⁣⁣
Fatigue and weakness⁣⁣
Stomach pain⁣⁣
Fruity breath⁣⁣

Many of these symptoms are mistaken for the stomach flu, strep throat, or urinary tract infections. ⁣⁣ It is important to ask questions and trust your gut feeling. ⁣⁣ Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent Type 1 diabetes. 

What are some quick tips that you recommend for people with diabetes (or who is hyper/hypoglycemic)?

My biggest recommendation is that there is power in preparedness! I’m a big fan of meal prepping on the weekends so that there are always healthy meals and snacks available throughout the week. Once you get into the habit of meal planning, it gets easier and takes less time. It also makes your weeknight meal prep much quicker as veggies and salads are already prepared! 

Exercise is an essential part of managing Type 1 diabetes. Exercise is a part of our daily routine, sometimes multiple times per day, even if it is a short walk. If you experience stubborn high blood sugars that won’t seem to budge, I recommend squats or jumping on a trampoline. The nice thing about squats is that they can be done anywhere! Always know where your blood sugar numbers are before starting exercise and test frequently while exercising. And always carry a fast-acting sugar with you while exercising. 

You help educate people on nutrient rich foods and planning meals. Since so many fresh and organic food is more expensive or harder to find, what advice do you offer to those who are on a budget and don’t feel they have the time or energy to prepare healthy meals?

Eating healthy can be expensive, but so can treating diabetes! Food is medicine! You can purchase larger quantities of healthy food at places like Costco. I always stock up on frozen berries and vegetables. If you can’t afford to buy everything organic, I recommend checking the EWG website for the dirty dozen. Here is the link

How do you manage diabetes over the holidays with all the tempting foods at get-togethers and celebrations?

The holiday season is upon us and that doesn’t have to mean falling out of our healthy habits. You can enjoy yourself and still feel healthy and well. It just takes some mindfulness to prevent unhealthy habits from taking over.  If you are going to a party or gathering, I recommend eating a healthy meal before you go, even if it is just a smoothie. Arriving at a party hungry is just going to set you up for unstable blood sugars. Once you get to the party, you can choose the foods that provide nourishment to your body. 

One of our favorite recipes to serve for the holidays is cauliflower mashed potatoes. It’s an easy way to cut down on the carbs, while still enjoying the creaminess of traditional mashed potatoes. Trust me. Once you try these, you’re going to love them! 

Recipe: Cauliflower Mash -A healthy, low-carb alternative to mashed potatoes. Please choose organic ingredients where possible.

  • 1 head of cauliflower (or 1 bag of frozen cauliflower)
  • 1/3 cup milk of choice
  • 2 tbsp. grass-fed butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Steam cauliflower, drain well and transfer to a food processor. Add remaining ingredients and puree until smooth, adding more milk if needed. Season to taste with sale and pepper. Garnish with chives. Enjoy! 

 Finally, what is the best way to contact you if people would like to look into your services?

If you are open to a holistic approach and would be interested in learning more about my health coaching programs, please visit my website. I also provide valuable information on my Instagram page  and in my private Facebook Group

About the Author: Julie Glaser is a healer who creates sacred spaces for people to share, release, and grow. She’s in the habit of being in awe and wonder and writes to share her own experiences and curiosities with other inquisitive souls in the process of transforming.

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