Cooking Up Some Diabetes Inspiration

Cooking Up Some Diabetes Inspiration | The LOOP Blog

MarianToday I’d like to introduce you to Marian Minugh, a recent culinary school graduate and inspiring person living a full life with type 1 diabetes. Marian grew up as an “army brat” and moved around a lot in her younger years. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on May 19, 1986, and has worn a MiniMed insulin pump for the last 11 years. Marian is a mom, wife, daughter, sister and friend. Her career path has led her to be a manager, bartender, and she is now a chef for a catering company in Atlanta. Here’s her story!

Q. Hi Marian! Can you tell me about your journey with diabetes?

A. I have had diabetes for 27 years. I was diagnosed at 5 years old. My mother took me to the doctor for my kindergarten physical and to get checked out because I was doing some odd things (getting up in the night and wetting the bed, not eating and seemed to have some mood changes.) I was 5, so at that point, I had very little actual control over the disease, but my mom took on the responsibility.

Q. How important has family support been on your journey?

A. My family consisted of my mom, Karen, my dad Jim and my younger brother James when I was first diagnosed, but I now have my husband of 12 years, Jason, our daughter Sam and our son Michael, and my in-laws. I also have my best friend, Angel. They are my support group and they help me through everything. Because of my family, I am able to overcome my moments of self-pity. I struggled for many years to come to grips with the disease. I still do sometimes but my family helps me to deal with that.

Q. What led you to try a Medtronic insulin pump to manage your diabetes, and how long have you been on it?

A. I was 21 and my husband and I had just had our oldest child. My A1c was elevated and my hormones and sugars were out of control. I had recently moved to Atlanta and began seeing a new doctor. The doctor strongly suggested that I get on the pump to work on controlling my diabetes and getting back on track. Within 6 weeks and some very intensive training on the pump, and control, I was successful in bringing my A1c down from 17 to 6. I was sold after that. I have been on a Medtronic ever since.

Q. You recently graduated from culinary school, congratulations! As a chef who has worked with a schedule that varies, have you found any specific things about an insulin pump to be helpful in managing the workload?

A. My insulin pump has given me a freedom that I feel like I didn’t have prior to wearing a pump. With the pump, I can set up different schedules that allow me to cover days where I am in a kitchen and will be eating frequently or my late nights where I won’t eat regularly. I am able to adjust because I don’t have a regular 9-5 job, so having the pump and the ability to change things with the press of a few buttons and an extra blood sugar test is pretty awesome. It has taken some time to learn to manage diabetes in this career, but it is possible. Luckily, with the use of the pump, I can schedule different dosages for different shifts and different day patterns. It takes a few extra blood tests a day and the ability to adjust and rearrange schedules quickly.

Q. How has becoming a chef altered your view on the importance of food and nutrition for people with diabetes?

A. Food is important! But with so many choices out there, it is important to make the right ones. You can have a great meal and have all the same tasty options as non-diabetics but do it in such a way that you aren’t harming yourself. Diabetes IS NOT about not having it. It is about timing it, and moderating it so that you can still be healthy and happy. Becoming a chef has allowed me to realize that I have so many options out there to meet my dietary needs and still taste everything and enjoy life, which of course means enjoying food. 😉

Q. Tell me, has your carb counting improved with all this cooking?!

A. I have struggled with carb counting and weight for the majority of my life (and especially through culinary school). I have a fantastic team of medical professionals that help me keep things on track and occasionally even kick my butt back in line, figuratively speaking. With my current job, as a caterer, I had to learn all over again how to control my diet in a changing schedule where you sometimes do not know when your next meal is going to occur. As a restaurant chef, I knew when I went to work, I had a regular schedule. I knew our busy nights were going to require me to make adjustments. As a caterer, we work much longer hours and it requires a great deal of physical activity and strength, which has required me to change my schedules and food intake quickly and often. The pump makes it easier for that to happen.

Q. If you could share a piece of advice to others living with diabetes, what would it be?

A. Overall, I have been very lucky in my 27 year career as a diabetic. It takes time and patience to learn how to manage this disease and it is a never ending battle, but it is so worth it. This disease does not have to rule you. You can let this disease claim you or you can claim it. Don’t be afraid to accomplish dreams because of this disease. Be proud of yourself for your accomplishments. Diabetes can strengthen you and it can teach you things. It is up to you to allow this disease to be your crutch or for you to champion over it. Be the champion. You can do it.


– Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems.
– Successful operation of the insulin infusion pumps and/or continuous glucose monitoring systems requires adequate vision and hearing to recognize alerts and alarms.

Medtronic Diabetes Insulin Infusion Pumps

– Insulin pump therapy is not recommended for individuals who are unable or unwilling to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day.
– Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin. If your insulin delivery is interrupted for any reason, you must be prepared to replace the missed insulin immediately.

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