I work for myself, so I don’t answer corporations or supervisors. I work with my clients. It’s a totally different dynamic than when I earned a regular paycheck. When I worked for large businesses, there were and are some different positive and challenging scenarios of which diabetics should be aware.
I used to work for Frito Lay. I was a district manager in the Birmingham, Alabama market. Eventually, I transferred to the Tuscaloosa, Alabama market. When I transferred to Tuscaloosa, the regional vice president asked me to do him a personal favor. I was going out to work with another district manager who just happened to be a type one diabetic. The RVP asked me to keep an eye on my colleague and let H know when he was acting out of character so; H could address his health. My RVP had some understanding of how diabetes works.
At the time, I had not been diagnosed diabetic. I had zero understanding of how diabetes works. I knew in a medical emergency to tell any medical professional my coworker was diabetic. Over time, I learned from my colleague just enough to be helpful as a coworker. I learned what to look for to keep a colleague and friend safe.
He had an old school insulin pump. These pumps had a long needle. It would come out quite regularly when we had to change the layout of the potato chips in large stores like Walmart or Sam’s Club. Several hours of moving chips off the shelves and re-organizing them back on the shelves is quite a workout. When the insulin needle came out, it would mean H was not getting his insulin at all. He would start acting like he was drunk and have a funky sweet smell to his breath. I didn’t recognize what it was at the time. He was in the initial stages of keto acidosis and many times had to go home. If it got too high, it could lead to hospitalization and even death.
Other times his blood sugar fell. In this case, it was orange juice and a snack. Either way when his blood sugar acted up, it was OK for him to go home and take care of himself. Not only did the company have his back, but also this Frito Lay RVP recognized that H wanted to work. He would only go home if he had to because of his diabetes.
This week's recipe is a good recovery snack for low blood sugar. Since you have to leave Santa some cookies this coming weekend, here's your recipe. The elves have told me Santa likes ginger snaps. Out of the 11 health properties of ginger that I read, my favorite was that it may drastically reduce blood sugar and improve heart disease risk factors.
3 cups almond flour
2 teaspoons ginger, ground
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup olive oil butter, softened
3/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup sugar-free maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix the almond flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in a bowl and set aside.
Beat olive oil butter and brown sugar together with electric mixer until nice and fluffy. Add maple syrup, egg and vanilla extract mixing well.
Gradually beat in the flour mixture on a low setting. Press the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Press out the dough into 1/4-inch thickness onto an almond flour covered work surface. Cut the cookies into 5-inch-long shapes with cookie cutters. Space them 1 inch apart on a cookie sheet.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges of the cookies start to brown. Remove them from the oven and cool for 1 - 2 minutes. Remove them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Sources: "11 Proven Health Benefits of Ginger"
"Diabetic Ketoacidosis - Symptoms and Causes"
FMLA Family and Medical Leave Act
U.S. Department of Labor www.dol.gov/general/topics/benefits-leave/fmla
Currently, I have a close friend who is a type one diabetic. He also works for a large corporation in the grocery world. He’s lost some close family members recently. These stresses have led him to make some poor food and life habit decisions that have affected his blood sugar in a negative way while he was grieving.
D wants to work. His recent health challenges have made it necessary for him to follow up with his doctors on filling out paperwork for FMLA, Family Medical Leave Act. The purpose of this act is stated on the U.S. Department of Labor's website, "FMLA is designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. It also seeks to accommodate and legitimate interests of employers and promote equal employment opportunity for men and women." This helps protect people when they or close family members are struggling with their health. It’s a way to communicate what you’re going through to your employers and coming up with a beneficial way of protecting the employee when emergencies arise and giving employers guidance on how to handle these challenging situations. You can find all the requirements and guidelines for unpaid leave on the website address listed in the sources above.
When D’s blood sugar drops down around 50 mg/dL to 60 mg/dL at work, he does not have insulin sensitivity. He can't always feel when his blood sugar is dropping and affecting his brain function. He wears a continuous glucose monitor, CGM, linked with an insulin pump. The CGM has a low blood sugar alarm that sounds to help him realize when his blood sugar is dropping. Normally, when your blood sugar goes above 170 mg/dL, the pump will automatically kick on and calculate the amount of insulin needed to keep you in a Goldilocks zone between 70 mg/dL and 170 mg/dL. When you go below this range, you don’t need insulin. You need glucose. This is when diabetics have to eat or drink something to get sugar into their system. It's like Humpty Dumpty balancing on a wall without falling off either side.
The problem is that anywhere outside of this Goldilocks zone affects diabetics' cognitive function. Even more confusing is that the brain struggles for the exact same reason when blood sugar is high or low. The brain is not receiving glucose, the food it needs to work properly. When blood sugar is low, there isn’t enough glucose in the blood stream to feed the brain. When a diabetic's blood sugar is high, there is plenty of glucose in the bloodstream. The problem is there isn’t insulin to create a train track from the bloodstream into the brain and muscles for the glucose to travel.
Low blood sugar should be treated quickly. Diabetics have to stop and eat. When we eat, we need to choose the proper foods so we don’t eat too much and blow our blood sugar up way too high. Next, we have to wait to see how your blood sugar reacted to what you ate. It actually takes 2 hours for the body to digest the food completely and get a true reading. We usually look around 45 minutes after eating to get an initial idea of how our bodies are responding.
When an employee says their blood sugar is falling, listen very carefully to them. Low blood sugar doesn’t just cause mental confusion, dizziness, and neuropathy (a tingling under the skin usually in the hands & feet). It can also lead to a coma and death. It is not something that someone willfully chooses to do.
When D realized his blood sugar was falling, he told his assistant manager on that day. The manager asked if he could stay and continue working before going to lunch. He just asked him to finish labeling/pricing some food. It wasn’t a difficult task and wasn’t going to take very long. D responded I’m more than willing to do the work; but when my blood sugar falls, sometimes my mental function declines with it.
He's a hard-working soldier and stayed to do the work. About 30 minutes later, he had his lunch. Sure enough, he had placed some of the tags on the product inaccurately. The manager came by and told him as much. The manager also said he would straighten it out later.
Two days later, D was written up for this. When he brought it to my attention, I advised him to speak with the store manager. The store manager wasn’t even aware of the write up and said you could have gone back and corrected it.
The error and double work could have been prevented. D calmly discussed the fact that he should have gone to the back and got his blood sugar under control. He doesn’t have to use his lunch to do it. This is exactly why FMLA paperwork is done. D just tries to take care of his employer and handle these emergencies during lunch or breaks. You can see, if you are having health issues with your diabetes, you need to fill out FMLA paperwork.
D’s been making extremely good strides in his health from multiple different angles. He’s been paying closer attention to what he eats. He’s taking advantage of medical advances like a GCM and an insulin pump. He’s done some of the intangible things like ensuring he has a regular schedule, being a regular closer in a retail environment to make it easier for the company to meet him halfway.
After all of this, the same assistant manager said I thought you were getting better. Yes, we can get better, but it is an ongoing daily struggle. Every manager needs to know, diabetes is a chronic disease that does not go away. There are some rare cases in which type two diabetes has been reversed.
Both of these companies are excellent corporations. It ends up being the people implementing the policies that make a difference. In either case, knowledge is power, so please don’t hesitate to share this article with employers and colleagues. Hopefully this holiday gift of knowledge will come in handy for both of you.
Please let me know if this week's recipe makes it into your recipe book. Our diet can play a significant role in undermining our hard work. I'll keep working on the recipes to prevent this. If you have a favorite dish, please tell me. I'll create a diabetic friendly version, just let me know by leaving a note below. I've learned how to swap blood sugar spiking ingredients for others with a lower glycemic index. It may take a week or two, but I love the challenge. I'll also work on introducing more recipes to help lower the ceramides in the body. Please comment, like, share, and come back next week for more recipes, ideas, and tips. Subscribe to the website, if you would like weekly email reminders to add more recipes to your recipe book.