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Gretchen Otte

Condition: Type 1 Diabetic

Diagnosed Year: 23

Foods I Love:

Grass-fed meats
Dark leafy greens
Decaffeinated coffee
Red wine

Foods I Avoid:

Refined sugar
GMO foods
Artificial colors and flavorings
White rice

My Story

The summer of 2014, I was traveling along Europe’s Mediterranean Sea and I began to realize something was wrong with me. I had lost a huge amount of weight, had extreme thirst, and total exhaustion. As a former college athlete, marathoner, lifeguard, and an extremely active and health conscious person, I never thought I that my symptoms would be so serious. I checked into a medical center in the belly of my cruise ship and there I was in full diabetic ketoacidosis and  diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s own immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. Type 1 is not preventable nor curable and the cause is unknown. I was devastated to hear this news. I hated the idea that I was forever tied to injecting insulin into my body every day in order to live. Stuck on the cruise ship, I was too unstable to fly back to America, so I stayed hospitalized for a few days until my body was out of ketoacidosis. After being released from the medical center, I was determined to stay on the trip and to continue my travels and to see all the other countries that I have been waiting all of my life to see.

I stayed in Europe for a month after my diagnoses and became consumed with the fascination of my disease. At every city and country I went to, I immediately had to find the nearest internet cafe to research my disease and how I could help it. With all my research, I also found some amazing stories of people just like me living with my disease and still doing amazing things in their lives. Type 1 Diabetics can still eat any kind of food that they want as long as they take the right insulin dosage for it. However, I noticed that a lot of the blogs I read were talking about the “Paleo Diet” as a way to lessen your insulin amounts and to lessen major blood sugar spikes. The “Paleo Diet” is a low carb, low sugar way of eating based on how primal humans ate (for example meat, vegetables, fruits). This was then where I decided to take my life in a new direction. I began eating and living the Paleo lifestyle and I noticed that I didn’t have to take as much insulin for certain foods. Plus by eliminating the bad carbs out of my life, I noticed that I wouldn’t get as many major blood sugar spikes from certain foods (because even stress, working out, not sleeping well, anything can still cause a high blood sugar spike). With this incurable disease, the Paleo lifestyle was a way for me to help control most of my blood sugars and helped me be more aware of what I was putting into my body. Although food helps with some of my blood sugars, it does not help cure it (unlike Type 2 Diabetes). I began my own blog ( featuring low carb, low sugar recipes, tips, and daily inspirations to help empower and inspire Type 1s (and even non-diabetics) to continue living life to the happiest and fullest.

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