From now until September, Joslin Diabetes Center is benefiting from 1 percent of the sales of LEVEL Life, a glucose gel produced by Level Foods. Founder Ethan Lewis speaks about his personal experience with diabetes that urged him to create a product focused on glucose delivery.
Tell me about your journey with Type 1 diabetes (when were you diagnosed, how did you discover it, how did you feel?)
I was diagnosed at the age of 12. Prior to the diagnosis, I had been sick with flu-like symptoms for two weeks and had lost 20 pounds. Luckily, my mother took me to the doctor who confirmed it, with an extremely high blood sugar result. I had type 1 diabetes. At the time, when the doctor told me, it didn’t mean much. I didn’t understand what lay ahead and how diabetes would change my life. The thing that really stuck out to me was when the doctor told me that people with type 1 typically were able to live 25 good years of life before major complications occurred (boy was he wrong).
What are your personal goals or milestones for your care and treatment?
My goal is simple. Achieve good blood sugar control (A1C of 7 or below) while living an active life. My blood sugar goals are often driven by avoiding “diabetes burnout” or frustration. After all, diabetes is a life long battle that is not won or lost by one A1C reading. For me, finding the balance of living a normal life with diabetes is critical.
What are your biggest daily challenges of living with diabetes?
Diabetes is most challenging for me when I am travelling for work. It seems like a constant challenge to find healthy food served on-the-go. To avoid this, I have learned to travel with protein bars and snacks to get me through the day in case I can’t stop for a meal. Eating consistently has really helped me take the guess work out of the travel day.
Do you have any advice for someone who has recently been diagnosed with Type 1?
Embrace it. I often tell people I am lucky to have diabetes by comparison to all other medical issues one can have. Although diabetes is frustrating, your attitude towards it is critical to winning the long-term challenge that it presents. If nothing else, have a laugh at living with diabetes.
What drove you to start Level Life?
Growing up, like many people, I struggled with scary low blood sugars. A few years ago, I went through a stretch of two weeks where I was going low every night and treating with glucose gel. Although I knew glucose gel was the best option medically to treat a low, as it works faster than everything else outside of an IV, the stuff I was buying at the store was too expensive and didn’t taste good. I knew that people with diabetes needed a better way to treat their lows–something that would be doctor recommended, but way more affordable. That’s what we’ve done with LEVEL Life! Our glucose gel is 2 to 3 times less expensive than competing products, comes in four delicious flavors and is easy to carry with you at all times!
What does the name Level Life mean to you?
LEVEL Life is a brand that stands for making life with diabetes easier. We do this by offering tasty snack and food options that help balance your blood sugars.
Through September, your company is donating 1 percent of sales of Level Life to Joslin Diabetes Center. Why did you choose to partner with Joslin?
Joslin Diabetes Center is an international leader in diabetes research and education for people with diabetes. I believe diabetes is a team effort among people living it and companies who work in it. It was the highest honor for me, a person living with type 1, to be able to give back and contribute to the effort of making life with diabetes easier through Joslin’s initiatives. After all, together we are stronger.