The Ar­ti­san Di­a­betic: Ire­land’s new celebrity cook?

Anne Daly is try­ing to make cook­ing fun for di­a­bet­ics all across the world with her new web­site – and re­duce the stigma along the way

The Irish Times - Tuesday - Health - - Health | Food - Patrick Kelle­her

A55-year-old Gal­way woman, Anne Daly, may well be on the way to be­com­ing Ire­land’s new­est celebrity chef af­ter launch­ing her new web­site, TheAr­ti­sanDi­a­betic.ie, last Novem­ber.

Since its launch, Daly has amassed fol­low­ers across the world in her bid to give di­a­bet­ics more recipes to cook with, while also rais­ing the pro­file of those with the con­di­tion. Daly’s mis­sion is a per­sonal one for her, as she has now had type one di­a­betes for more than 50 years.

Type one di­a­betes is a chronic con­di­tion where the pan­creas cre­ates ei­ther lit­tle or no in­sulin. In­sulin is re­spon­si­ble for al­low­ing sugar to en­ter cells to pro­duce en­ergy, mean­ing that those with the con­di­tion must closely mon­i­tor their di­ets, as well as keep­ing a close eye on their in­sulin and blood sugar lev­els.

For Daly, this re­quires a con­stant vig­i­lance which she has devel­oped over 50 years of nav­i­gat­ing the con­di­tion.

“Carbs and in­sulin are the cur­rency of a type one di­a­betic,” she ex­plains. “We can’t func­tion with­out our in­sulin and with­out know­ing what carbs are in some­thing. Some di­a­bet­ics prac­ti­cally cut out carbs, as in bread, pota­toes, and those kind of things, but there are carbs in ev­ery­thing re­ally, so you’re go­ing to get some carbs no mat­ter what you do.

“Nowa­days we’re en­cour­aged to choose what type of di­etary things we go along with, be­cause dif­fer­ent peo­ple have dif­fer­ent food styles that would suit them. I would be fairly low carb, but I def­i­nitely don’t cut out carbs or any­thing like that. So yes, I would have a sand­wich oc­ca­sion­ally, but I wouldn’t choose to go out and get a sand­wich. I would be more into slow re­lease carbs.”

Es­ti­mat­ing in­sulin

“It’s a con­stant chal­lenge,” she adds. “I have it for so long, and it’s re­ally just es­ti­mat­ing a lot of the time. How can you know what some chefs are putting in a salad dress­ing? You can have some­thing that seems very low in carbs and you have a small amount of in­sulin to cover it, but of­ten that isn’t enough. Ei­ther that or you take a chance, take a lot of in­sulin, and then you have a low later on, which is danger­ous. So even for some­one ex­pe­ri­enced like me, it’s a chal­lenge all the time.”

As Daly has spent al­most her en­tire life nav­i­gat­ing the chal­lenges of liv­ing with type one di­a­betes, the idea of a web­site full of recipes for those with the con­di­tion ap­pealed to her.

“A cou­ple of years ago I started to re­ally think about set­ting up a web­site,” says Daly. “I started to do some re­search of what was on­line and the only one who ac­tu­ally told her story of hav­ing it for 50 years was a lady in New Zealand, there was no­body in Eng­land and Ire­land that I could find. I put it aside a cou­ple of times and put it to the back of my mind, but it kept com­ing back. A year ago, I started se­ri­ously think­ing about set­ting up the web­site. The name “The Ar­ti­san Di­a­betic” suited me be­cause I didn’t do it by the book. There was no in­ter­net for the first 30 years that I had it, so I kind of had to wing it, so that was the ar­ti­san el­e­ment of it.”

Daly’s tar­get au­di­ence is, of course, peo­ple with di­a­betes – and this is not just lim­ited to those with type one. She also caters for those with type two di­a­betes, which is the most com­mon form of the con­di­tion. She is also keen for non-di­a­bet­ics to use her recipes, and in­sists that there is no such thing as “di­a­betic food”.

“So many peo­ple have said to me, ‘it’s all di­a­betic stuff, that won’t be any good to me, what would I want to be look­ing at that for?’ It’s this as­sump­tion that the web­site is just di­a­betic food, and I hate the term ‘di­a­betic food’, be­cause there is no such thing. Any­body that buys di­a­betic bars or bis­cuits or any­thing, it’s a com­plete waste of time. There is more bad stuff in it in gen­eral, that you’re as well off with the sugar or what­ever else is in it.”

Daly was also partly in­spired to cre­ate the web­site by the per­va­sive ig­no­rance around di­a­betes in our so­ci­ety, and she hopes that The Ar­ti­san Di­a­betic can go some way towards re­dress­ing that.

“It might sound a bit weird, but it’s only in the last few years that I’ve spo­ken to peo­ple about my di­a­betes,” she says. “I find peo­ple don’t re­ally un­der­stand it. That’s why par­ents of lit­tle kids that get it are so shocked when their child gets it, be­cause they are hor­ri­fied when they re­alise what they have to do, and they do it by the book and it is not as easy as they think it might be.

“I think some peo­ple think we’re look­ing for sym­pa­thy or some­thing,” she adds. “But it is frus­trat­ing when peo­ple don’t re­alise that you can be kept awake all night with hy­pos, and that it can af­fect your mood and so many other things. It’s also frus­trat­ing when peo­ple don’t re­alise the dif­fer­ence be­tween type one and type two, so it’s only when they have some­one very close in their fam­i­lies that they re­alise that they’re dif­fer­ent.”

In­crease aware­ness

Daly hopes that her web­site can help to in­crease aware­ness of the chal­lenges that di­a­bet­ics face. She is urg­ing peo­ple not to ig­nore symp­toms, and also hopes to see more fund­ing to make life eas­ier for those who do have the con­di­tion.

“I want to keep the aware­ness of type one alive,” says Daly. “We are only 10 per cent of the to­tal di­a­betic pop­u­la­tion. Type one is a chronic, au­toim­mune, un­pre­ventable dis­ease that re­quires con­stant mon­i­tor­ing of blood glu­cose lev­els to stay healthy, so it’s im­por­tant that fund­ing is avail­able for new tech­nolo­gies.

“Type ones should not have to con­tin­u­ously wreck their fin­gers do­ing blood glu­cose tests, which only gives a mo­ment in time read­ing, when other meth­ods are avail­able that cap­ture con­tin­u­ous data, which is much more ben­e­fi­cial for mak­ing de­ci­sions on in­sulin dosage. In­vest­ment in mod­ern tech­nol­ogy will let us lead more nor­mal lives with re­duced risk of life-chang­ing com­pli­ca­tions.”

It’s a con­stant chal­lenge. I have it for so long, and it’s re­ally just es­ti­mat­ing a lot of the time. How can you know what some chefs are putting in a salad dress­ing?

Above: Anne Daly was partly in­spired to cre­ate her Ar­ti­san Di­a­betic web­site by the ig­no­rance around di­a­betes; be­low: the web­site is full of recipes for peo­ple with di­a­betes

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