Not long ago, I spent time with author Riva Greenberg, who has been living with type 1 diabetes for over 40 years. Riva is a well-known diabetes advocate and has just published her third book, Diabetes Do’s & How To’s. She blogs about diabetes for The Huffington Post, (and here on ASweetLife), and travels around the U.S. giving talks about diabetes. I could write a long paragraph about Riva’s many achievements, but rather than that, I’d like to tell you why I think she is so successful. Riva isn’t just brains and talent. She puts her heart into her work and her compassion – which I experienced first-hand – also comes across thoughout her new book as she shares the actions that have kept her healthy for so many years.
In Diabetes Do’s & How-To’s, Riva has not given us just another book about living with diabetes. She has given us a tool to create our healthiest lives with diabetes. After all, being educated about diabetes is one thing. Implementing what you know is quite another. Reading the numerous action steps in Diabetes Do’s & How-To’s will prepare you to make wise decisions about food, medicine, fitness and attitude. And then the book provides you with strategies to follow through with those decisions.
For example: In Do #34 “Consider Whether An Insulin Pen, Pump, Or Continuous Glucose Monitor Is For You,” Riva explains the options and offers practical information. “Ask if a diabetes educator will put a CGM on you for a week or two and let you take a trial run,” she writes. Then she gives you a name and phone number of a certified diabetes educator who will.
Aside from the putting together great information and action-steps, Riva incorporated the cartoons of artist Haidee S. Merritt into the book. And, if those don’t bring enough smiles to your face, Riva’s wit is likely to. In Do #48, for example, Riva discusses the importance of movement. “For the girls, do your kegel exercises while in the car waiting for the light to change. For the guys, squeeze your glutes while in the car staring at the girl waiting for the light!”
After reading Diabetes Do’s and How-To’s, I had the opportunity to talk to Riva about her book, why she wrote it, and what she hopes it will accomplish.
What motivated you to write Diabetes Do’s & How-To’s?
To stop people from getting needless complications and give them a blueprint for controlling their diabetes. I really hear an ache in people’s voices when they ask me, “Can I ever eat a piece of fried chicken again?” or “My blood sugar’s perfect in the morning, why is my doctor putting me on another medicine to control it?” You know you can’t drive a car without taking driving lessons and passing a test. Yet, here we are, managing a serious, life-threatening condition, and no one gives us an instruction booklet! I deeply felt people needed one and having lived with diabetes 41 years and working in the field the last ten, I felt I could give them that.
Why did you choose the do/how-to structure?
It’s a great way to give people just enough bite-sized, easy-to-digest information and then steps to act on it. Along with lots of “How-To’s” each “Do” has two Quick-Starts, easy actions for quick success. Understanding diabetes is important, and there’s a brief overview in the back of the book, but doing, taking action, is what’s going to make you healthier.
Who is the target audience for this book?
Anyone with diabetes, any type of diabetes, any age, plus caretakers, loved ones and health care providers (HCPs). I’m very committed to not just helping patients do better, but also health care professionals because they impact so many. HCPs can use the book to guide patients toward healthier behaviors with practical steps patients actually take. There are also worksheets, based on the latest finding in neuroscience, to help patients change a behavior and they’ll learn powerful questions to help them engage and involve patients more in their care, so that patients and providers both will benefit.
What do you hope readers will take away?
A healthier life. I hope readers will finally feel confident that they know how to take care of themselves, and with the book’s guidance, just do it.
What do feel is missing from diabetes care?
I’d tell you, until now, this book, the handbook for taking care of our diabetes. Then I’d say time, empathy and compassion are often missing from diabetes care. Unfortunately, most general practitioners, who see the majority of diabetes patients, get a half day training on diabetes, and none for helping patients manage a chronic illness. Many patients aren’t walking out of their doctor’s offices with the best treatment plans. Don’t think it’s just up to your doctor, learn all you can and know, if you take care of your diabetes, you will have your best health.
Diabetes Do’s and How-To’s is available in print and on Kindle.
Riva Greenberg is a regular contributor to ASweetLife. She writes the blog My Unexpected Muse.
Jessica Apple is co-founder and editor-in-chief of ASweetLife. She writes the blog The Natural Diabetic.