I met Emily Davis and Sarah Steinmetz of Chronically Healthy at a JDRF TypeOneNation last November, and their mission to help people with diabetes, and also folks living with other chronic illnesses, find peace and good health despite health challenges. They focus on the intersection between holistic modalities and conventional medicine.
I really enjoyed talking with them both and wanted to share a little bit about what they’re working on, and how you can connect with their team, here today. Thanks to fellow PWD Emily for taking the time to talk with me!
Kerri: Since this is a diabetes blog, it’s always good to open with your connection to diabetes. Can you tell me a little bit about the Chronically Healthy team, and their connection to chronic illness?
The Chronically Healthy team is small but mighty! Sarah is our designer and creative lead, and has a passion for health advocacy. I’m Emily, a health coach and holistic nutritionist, and I’ve been a type 1 diabetic for over 18 years.
I went through the typical “ignore my diabetes” phase when I was in high school. You know … no testing, a haphazard injection schedule, always red faced and moody from running high. Shortly after, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and immediately put on chemotherapy and narcotics to control the pain. I was living a groggy nightmare, I still had weekly flares of symptoms and pain, and I lost even more control over diabetes. I knew there had to be another way to live. Finding that alternative suddenly became really important to me. I incorporated dietary, lifestyle, and supplemental changes, and found a new way to live. This integrative approach not only put me into remission from Rheumatoid Arthritis, but it allowed me to know my body and mind better, thus improving diabetes management.
Kerri: What is the mission behind Chronically Healthy?
A person has two options when he or she is diagnosed with a disease. Give up or shift perspective. There are always going to be difficult days, but having resources and knowledge to help you through those days is essential.
As people living with T1D we have so much on our plates. Life becomes easier (and better) when a person learns to see their diagnosis as an opportunity to know themselves deeper, treat themselves more kindly, and live Chronically Healthy. Living Chronically Healthy has both physical and emotional components. It is a way of living in in which you learn that your disease does not define you, you can still be healthy and happy, and you are more than a diagnosed condition.
We provide raw, real, and entertaining content that reaches people across many invisible illnesses. We aim to show that people with chronic illnesses are more alike than different, and that we are stronger than we know.
Kerri: How do you and your team deliver on that mission?
Chronically Healthy began as one-on-one, in person coaching. While that is still a major part of what we do, we now put the vast majority of our time and soul into creating online programs and resources. This allows us to reach a greater number of people, while still providing an affordable, helpful, and much needed service.
We are in daily contact with our community through both social media and our online support groups. In addition, we have a very close relationship with JDRF and absolutely love attending and speaking at various events.
Kerri: What resources and tools do you provide to the community, and what’s the feedback from these resources been like?
We are constantly providing free resources to our community via social media, blog posts, and recipes. Our current offers include a video about pain management, various documents to teach our readers about essential oils, an eBook about Seasonal Affective Disorder, and our support groups.
Every so often we put out a video outlining holistic remedies for some common problem relating to autoimmune disease. Most recently, we have received amazing feedback from our Gut Healing Protocol which includes supplements, an eBook, and weekly support. We love everything that we offer, but Thriving with T1D holds a special place in our hearts.
Kerri: Can you tell me about your Thriving with T1D video series, and the inspiration behind it?
The adolescent years are a roller coaster ride no matter who you are. Add diabetes to the mix and these years become even more difficult to navigate. From both studying people (psychology) and working with people living with chronic illness (coaching), I’ve learned so much about family dynamics and the power of addressing problems systematically.
Through countless hurdles of my own, and the many sessions I’ve had with children and teens with type 1 diabetes, we were able to create a five week video program specifically designed to capture the attention of children. The videos and accompanying activities are designed in a way where they are learning new things and creating new healthy habits becomes fun.
Thriving with T1D covers blood sugar disruptors, stress, the importance of routine, food, and wearing diabetes as a badge of honor instead of viewing it as a source of embarrassment or shame.
As a little preview to Thriving with T1D, we created a video about what happens inside of your body when you’re experiencing high blood sugar. Check it out here!
Kerri: And what about the concept of “loving the body that failed you?”
For years, I lived in a body that scared me. A body that I felt like I had no control over, but rather it had complete control over me. When I was thirteen my daily battle with disordered eating began. Food, control, and disgust about myself consumed my mind for years.
People with type 1 diabetes have a higher chance of developing an eating disorder, and this program will address that from a holistic standpoint.
Learning to love yourself for who you are is one of the most difficult feats, but once that level of self-respect and self-love is reached, life gets so much better. Be on the lookout for this program. It’s coming soon!
Kerri: Some people are skeptical of non-traditional medicine routes. What can you say to reassure folks that this is not an insulin replacement therapy, but instead resources to employ alongside traditional care?
Cinnamon and okra juice will cure you!
I’m totally kidding. We get just as annoyed by all of that nonsense as the next person. Our approach is simple. Better your life by employing holistic modalities alongside the conventional.
Oftentimes as type 1 diabetics, we are taught that insulin and blood sugar testing are the only things that matter. True, they matter the most, but there are implementations that can only make life better; mentally, emotionally, and physically.
As an example, we like using aromatherapy to help manage emotions. When you’re angry or upset, adrenaline and cortisol are released into your bloodstream. These hormones signal your liver to produce more glucose for a burst of energy, which is meant to help you in a fight or flight situation. If you’re a type 1 diabetic, this means an unexpected blood sugar spike followed by a crash. While you can’t always control your emotions, it is helpful to learn tools to regain a state of peace and prevent the signal and release of stress hormones. There is more about this on our site as well!
Kerri: What’s coming next for Chronically Healthy?
In 2018, our mission is to bring the chronic illness community even closer together. We are kicking off the year focusing on gut health and its connection to autoimmune disease, immunity, and mental-emotional health.
Each month we will be running a group gut healing protocol complete with supplements, support, and our Gut Health eBook. Additionally, be on the lookout for our newest eBook that will cover all things food for children and families with type 1 diabetes!