Blood, sweat and tears of Hba1c Success!

I’m not quite sure how to communicate this, but I’ll try. My hesitation is that- I’m a massive advocate of people who want to, participating in sport. Especially if they have diabetes because of the numerous benefits that I’ve received myself through sporting participation as a result. Although I think that I do benefit from needing to take less insulin due to increased insulin sensitivity after exercise and generally my blood sugars levels are better. But despite these benefits, for a long time there was one set of numbers that no matter how hard I seemed to be trying, would not come down; they were the results of my hba1c test. 

For those unfamiliar with what a hba1c test is, it's a result given from a blood test taken in diabetes clinic that is able to give you an average reading of what your blood sugars have been over a recent period of months. When I went onto my insulin pump after previously doing numerous daily injections because my blood sugars wouldn’t come down, my hba1c was 9.7%. When I was diagnosed with diabetes 13 years ago and was still in the honeymoon period (where your body still produces a small amount of insulin) my hba1c when things settled down was just over 6%- to give you a rough context for the result. When I got my insulin pump 6 years ago, I expected my hba1c result to plummet to a better range, but it didn’t. 

This pattern continued for a number of years when something funny happened, I started noticing that after I ate bread or pasta and my body tried to digest it, it felt like a stone in my stomach, I felt sick and very fatigued. This pattern extended to when I ate biscuits, cakes… and the list went on. Having been diabetic for a number of years, I had a good feeling that the way I was feeling was related to my consumption of gluten and the effect trying to digest it was having on my blood sugars. (Gluten intolerance is quite common amongst people with diabetes). Now to my knowledge, this is not a route that’s usually recommended, as a positive gluten intolerance test should come from the doctors when testing for coeliac. But my previous experience told me that making the decision to go onto a gluten free diet might help improve how I was feeling. (As I mentioned, medical attention should be sought before making a decision like this).

I gave up gluten at the start of this year, when my hba1c result was 8.3%. Although gluten can be found in many carbohydrate based foods, it didn’t mean giving up eating carbohydrates. But being smart with what I was eating, paying special attention to food labelling and often preparing food myself where possible. My next hba1c test after giving up gluten for a couple of months was 7.6%, the lowest it had been for 6 years! But although pleased, this wasn’t necessarily the time to get excited as it could have been a fluke result. So I carried on with my gluten free diet, but when I had to spend time in hospital recently because of ketones, I thought I might have to accept that my hba1c result might go up. At least until the infection of labyrinthitis that caused the ketones had left my body. But no, my hba1c result was 7.5%. As a result of my hospital stay my consultant decided she wanted to keep a closer eye on me and asked me to come back to clinic about 2 months later, to see how things were going. Again I had my hba1c test done and this time the result was 7.2%, I was speechless and absolutely thrilled. I was honest with my consultant from the beginning about giving up gluten and although she thought it was perhaps an unusual decision to make, supported me completely and is as thrilled as I am that my hba1c result is finally where it should have been all along.

HBA1c % Indicator Graph from


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My blog takes you through a daily look at sport, diabetes and everything in between. As an athlete that lives with type 1 diabetes I want to let you into news, views and all that is important to both of my passions.

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