What is Sugar Surfing?


This week's post comes from Dr. Stephen Ponder, who will be in Ireland in less than two weeks to present the Thriveabetes Sugar Surfing Workshop. I asked Stephen to describe what Sugar Surfing is and what people would learn at the workshop. If you would like to attend this 4 hour workshop to learn about Sugar Surfing on Saturday May 13th please register here. You will also have a chance to meet other people with type 1 diabetes as well as talk to representatives from the following companies/organisations who are exhibiting; Animas, Dexcom, Diabetes Ireland, Diabetes UKNI and Funky Pumpers.


What is Sugar Surfing?

By Stephen Ponder.

Sugar Surfing is a metaphor for what I call "Dynamic Diabetes Management" or "Management in the Moment". It's a process and it’s not a recipe. In my opinion, Sugar Surfing can be performed as needed and still rely on older, more static approaches to diabetes care when “Surfing” conditions are not optimal. In other words: Sugar Surfing is not an "all or none" phenomenon. There is nothing inherently wrong with a static approach to diabetes self care, aside from simply being rigid and often more unpredictable in its outcomes. Sugar Surfing is simply more nimble and powerful as an approach to diabetes self care.

I know many who plan to attend the Dublin Sugar Surfing Workshop may not own a continuous glucose monitoring device. Others may be using the Abbott Libre system and a few others may have self-funded a Medtronic or Dexcom CGM system. Sugar Surfing can and will help each one of these groups. So please don't hesitate to sign up to attend since you will learn a wealth of information about diabetes even if you don't have the condition. The insight alone is valuable in my humble opinion.

I am a very informal person and will remain that way when I am there. This is not intended to be off-putting to any attendees but simple a result of how I was raised and where I have grown up and lived my life: in Texas. Plus I work with children every day and it "goes with the territory" as they say here. Texans are friendly and cordial people. I know the people of Ireland are no different and I look forward to making new friends and acquaintances as I did in 2015 in London.

I will summarize here what I aim to teach workshop attendees.

First, I will describe how Sugar Surfing is about SEEING repeatable patterns in the blood glucose trend line or data stream. Once these basic "shapes" are appreciated, they become easy to see again.

Second, once the patterns are seen, then the Surfer must make a determination to UNDERSTAND the significance of the shape, in light of the situation at that moment in time. This will rely on recalling past actions and results, plus possess an awareness of recent, current and anticipated actions. I will elaborate at the workshop on this. The "significance filter" is unique to you: the person with diabetes.

Thirdly, a decision must be made to RESPOND based on the prior two steps. You either act or don't act. How you choose to respond, whether by administering an insulin dose, some amount of carbohydrates, exercise or simply take a break from what you are doing, is infinite. After all, it's your blood sugar 'situation' that matters and not anyone else's.

Finally after you respond, you "FOLLOW UP". By that I mean you follow the trend line (or re-check BG with your meter or Libre) often enough to see the results of your choices (or omissions). I will share many examples to highlight these four steps of Sugar Surfing.

And if you read the above items carefully, you will notice that the four steps spell an acronym: S.U.R.F.

This "SURF cycle" will help keep you focused as you embark on your Surfing journey following your attendance at our Dublin Workshop on May 13th 2017. Remember that I work for no device company or special interest. My special interest is in helping you and your family. As a Joslin Medalist now living with diabetes for over 51 years, I see it as my duty (and privilege) to share what I know with anyone interested in listening or reading.

Blessings to you all. I hope to see you soon.

Steve Ponder Stephen W. Ponder MD, FAAP, CDE


If you would like to join us at The Thriveabetes Sugar Surfing Workshop on Saturday May 13th click here.