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10 Diabetes Influencers You Should Be Following on Instagram

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Whether you’re new to diabetes or have been in “the club” for years, you know there’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when you’re hanging out with other “dia-buddies.” Sure, friends and family try to support you as best they can, but no one really understands the annoyance of having to get up in the middle of the night for a juice box or the feeling of accomplishment when you learn that you lowered your A1C, better than someone who’s also in the trenches of diabetes.

It’s not always easy to find friends who also have diabetes, which is what makes social media so powerful — you can instantly connect with other people around the world who are in the diabetes community. To help match you with some of the most relatable, funny, helpful and inspiring diabetes influencers out there, we rounded up 10 Instagram accounts you should add to your “follow” list.

These influencers built their followings by offering authentic portrayals of what life with diabetes is really like, and use their accounts to help others in the community feel less alone. Check out our list below, and let us know in the comments what other Instagram diabetes influencers you love (or share your own handle!).

1. Drew Harrisberg @drews.daily.dose


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DAILY LIVING – The third pillar of my five-pillar approach to thriving with diabetes. I always make sure to get a daily dose of THE SIX S’s: ???????? SLEEP ???? – Quality and quantity. I aim for 8 hours unbroken in a cool, quiet, dark room and avoid circadian-disrupting, blue-light-emitting devices at night. ???????? SUN ☀️ – I always get 10-30 minutes of direct sunlight daily. The key is to maximise the benefits (vitamin D production) whilst minimising the risks (sunburn-induced DNA damage) Try not to burn. Find your tolerance. ???????? STRESS MANAGEMENT????????‍♂️ – The goal is not to be stress free – the goal is to be stress fit! Healthy acute stressors like a tough workout or a cold ocean swim are good for you but chronic low-grade stress is the problem. ???????? STEPS????????‍♂️- Spend more time on your feet and less time sitting down. I walk at every opportunity. Aim for 10k steps per day but don’t put a cap on it. Tip: It helps having a dog. ???????? SMILE ???? – Seek joy in life. Immerse yourself in moments that not only put a smile on your face, but allow your soul to smile and flood your body with feel-good endorphins. ???????? SOCIALISE ????‍????‍????‍???? – The importance of human connection, conversations, and bonding with real people face to face. We need to spend more time looking into people’s eyes than looking at our screens/devices. – “Enjoy the simple things because one day you’ll look back and realise they were the big things” – #dailyliving #nationaldiabetesweek #diabetes #type1diabetes #type2diabetes #healthylifestyle

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Drew Harrisberg is an exercise physiologist and diabetes educator who lives with type 1 diabetes. Check out his feed for nutrition and exercise advice as well as a positive outlook on life with type 1 diabetes. If you love incorporating healthy food and working out into your diabetes management routine, Harrisberg offers a guide to what works for him and what you may want to consider adding to your daily life.

“I feel in control and I’m grateful to have a healthy relationship with my diabetes but I definitely experience bad days from time to time. If you’re struggling with your diabetes just know that you’re not alone. We all ride the highs and low together (pun intended),” he wrote.

2. Nalani Haviland @diabetes_pa

As a physician assistant who works with patients with diabetes, in addition to managing her own type 1 diabetes, Nalani Haviland knows both “sides” of diabetes management. On her Instagram feed, Haviland shares what you need to know about all the different pumps, CGMs and other diabetes management devices on the market, advice about challenges of daily living like exercising, drinking and coping with mental health setbacks, and the latest updates to diabetes treatment. Haviland offers the relatability you only get from other “dia-buddies,” plus the medical knowledge to provide specific, practical guidance.

Be sure to also check out Haviland’s advice column on The Mighty!

3. Leighann Calentine, @dmomblog

As any parent of a child with diabetes knows, a diabetes diagnosis is a life-changer for parents, too. Especially if your child is diagnosed before they’re a teenager, it’s up to you to make sure they’re checking their blood sugar and administering insulin correctly, as well as making sure the other adults in their life know how to assist them. Leighann Calentine’s book, “Kids First, Diabetes Second” explores parenthood and diabetes, and her Instagram offers stories, photos, memes and humor you’ll relate to if you’re a “d-mom” or “d-dad.”

Calentine also shares food that worked well for her child, including the carb count, to give other families ideas for fun, diabetes-friendly treats.

4. Kerri Sparling, @sixuntilme


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Wait … you mean you make insulin? ????????‍♀️ #diabetes #t1dlookslikeme

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Kerri Sparling is a longtime blogger and diabetes advocate, who uses her Instagram account to document funny, poignant and exasperating moments of life with type 1 diabetes. You’ll find memes, words of support, and a look at her work as an advocate. Sparling blogged at her website Six Until Me for 14 years, but recently announced she would be pivoting to a new blogging focus called Small Stories. However, you can still keep up with her diabetes journey on Instagram.

“Diabetes is a learning curve, forever and ever amen. I’ve never figured it out perfectly,” Sparling wrote in May. “I have some clues but am always unearthing new ones. I’m always working towards ‘better.’”

5. Mila Clarke Buckley, @thehangrywoman


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Let me tell y’all somethings about #diabetes: no day is the same, and sometimes it feels like riding a roller coaster you can’t get off. ???? sometimes you do everything right and things are perfect and sometimes you do everything right and nothing is perfect. People misunderstand you – they may think you’re lazy, or “you did this to yourself.” They may ask you why you’re being so picky at restaurants, or why you’re so concerned with numbers. Sometimes you get a scary high or low and wonder if you might go into a coma. Sometimes you have to check your blood glucose every two hours overnight with a finger prick because insurance won’t cover a CGM. Sometimes you’re just trying to do the right things for you, and you just keep pushing on because you know a day will come where this won’t be so hard. 〰️ I had this scary high a couple of nights ago. I’d been feeling dizzy in the morning, but my bs was in a normal range. When I checked after dinner and before bed, I was staring at this. I wondered if I should have gone to the ER – i had honestly never in my life have seen a number that high. I was terrified, and upset. 〰️ My diaversary just happened, and this isn’t the way I wanted it to go. It’s been 3 years since I was diagnosed, but it’s just a reminder to check in on myself. Thankfully I’m back floating in the low 100’s, but this was a good reality check for me. 〰️ When your blood sugar goes crazy, how do you react, and what do you do?

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Mila Clarke Buckley is a type 2 diabetes advocate and also an avid foodie, so expect to see lots of delicious-looking food on her Instagram feed. She also speaks honestly about her health and the everyday ways diabetes impacts her, including the adjustments she’s had to make since her diagnosis. If you’re feeling unsure about how you can live a full (and tasty) life with type 2 diabetes, Buckley demonstrates what’s possible.

“Let me tell y’all somethings about #diabetes: no day is the same, and sometimes it feels like riding a roller coaster you can’t get off,” she wrote in a recent post.

6. Jillian Rippolone, @t1dchick

One of the most-followed diabetes bloggers is Jillian Rippolone, otherwise known as T1dchick. Rippolone gets real about the annoyances and wins that you experience when you have diabetes, and also shares helpful tips for dealing with things like “insulin bubbles” and body image issues. She’s like your diabetes BFF. If you wish you had more people in your life who totally understand all the ups and downs of life with diabetes, follow Rippolone to remind yourself you aren’t alone.

“This is how I cope. Taking about ‘it.’ It’s my outlet. When I feel defeated by type 1, I come to my safe place, here. I can talk about it, I can vent, I can let out all my bottled up emotions,” she wrote in a recent post.

7. Quinn Nystrom, @quinnnystrom


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Today was the honor of my life to co-host a top-tier Presidential Candidate, Senator @berniesanders, to cross over to Windsor, Canada to purchase insulin for 10x less! We also highlighted the insulin affordability crisis here in America. He sat with us in the back of the bus and listened to each and everyone of our stories, wanting to learn about how each health plan has affected us from buying affordable insulin. I read him so many of your stories that you had all posted here. Yes, there were 14 people today who got to buy affordable insulin. Bur the huge win in my opinion was having two busloads of national and international media with us to cover this crisis. That would not have happened if the Senator was not with us. I want to thank the ????????’s who so warmly welcomed us this afternoon at Old Walkerville Pharmacy. We were greeted by a huge crowd, an accordion player, and many people with diabetes who wanted to stand in solidarity with us. Your kindness will never be forgotten by me. Regardless of what you think of his ideology, what I’m confident of is that this man wants to stand up to insulin manufacturers and corporate greed, and has already made a career of that. We need more of that in Washington. It’s not right that these companies can increase the price 1200% in 20 years for a life-saving medication and hold patient’s hostage. I hope that we’re going to see changes coming real soon in ????????. #insulin4all #CaravantoCanada #MNinsulin4all #type1diabetes #diabetesadvocate

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Quinn Nystrom is the Minnesota Insulin4All chapter leader and is a passionate leader in the movement to make insulin more affordable in the United States. She recently helped organize two “caravans to Canada,” in which she and fellow type 1 diabetics drove to Canada to purchase cheaper insulin and raise awareness of the insulin crisis in the U.S. Her second trip was accompanied by U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Follow Nystrom on Instagram to keep up with the Insulin4All movement.

“What I hope people will take from this is for every single citizen concerned about this issue to stand up and use their voice to contact their elected official and say this is an issue we’re really concerned about and we need you to take action,” Nystrom told The Mighty. “Because unless that happens, nothing is going to change in our political system.”

8. Ariel Lawrence, @justalittle_suga


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Still here, still resting and still working on giving myself permission to breathe. It’s hard for me to pause without feeling guilty or reminding myself of all those things that need to be done. But the reality is—this year has been wonderfully eventful, and my body and mind are in recovery. Looking forward to immersing myself in the diabetes community again, and next week’s adventure at the American Association of Diabetes Educators conference, where I and @sweetercherise will present on the value of supportive spaces for people of color living with diabetes and ways to engage underrepresented communities. Also, if any of y’all are based in Houston—let a sister know ????. . . . ????: @alfstonne_lewis #t1d #type1diabetes #justalittlesuga #diabeticsonthemargin #diabetesawareness #diabadass #t1dlookslikeme

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Ariel Lawrence blogs about life with type 1 diabetes at Just a Little Suga’, and uses her Instagram to share her diabetes journey, as well as the experiences of other “diabetics on the margin.” She shares insights from women and people of color with diabetes, and how they navigate the unique challenges and discrimination they face. On Lawrence’s Instagram, you’ll find a supportive community that elevates voices that are not always heard.

“At the end of the day, my goal is to create an inclusive community that highlights the vibrancy and diversity of this diabetes community,” Lawrence wrote in December.

9. Phyllisa Deroze, @blackdiabeticinfo

Type 2 diabetes influencers tend to be harder to come by on Instagram than type 1 influencers, making Phylissa Deroze’s account even more special. With the motto “Diagnosed but not defeated,” Deroze shares advice and encouragement for living with type 2 diabetes, including tips on staying healthy while eating what you love and her experience with various diabetes supplies and medications.

Outside of Instagram, Deroze offers free diabetes workshops and serves as a patient advocate.

10. Paul Reid, @typeoneoutdoors

If you’re looking for some inspiration and advice about hiking and being outdoors while managing diabetes, check out Paul Reid’s account, Type 1 Outdoors. Reid leads hikes around southern California for others with diabetes. On his feed, you’ll find photos of his adventures and documentation of how he keeps his blood sugar in check while hiking. Being outdoors and away from your “home base” can be nerve-wracking when you have type 1 diabetes (especially since exercising can affect your blood sugar), but Reid encourages and inspires others to get out there.

And if you’re in the Los Angeles area, you can follow the account to find out when you can join the next hike!

Originally published: August 15, 2019
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