Over one hundred people from all over Ireland and the world, attended the Thriveabetes Sugar Surfing Workshop on Saturday, May 13th in Dublin presented by Dr Stephen Ponder, who is a consultant endocrinologist from Texas. Dr. Ponder is co-author, with Kevin McMahon, of “Sugar Surfing; How to manage Type 1 Diabetes in a Modern World” and has lived with the condition himself for over 50 years.

It was really challenging to put this review together because my head was bursting with the massive amount of information it was trying to process. The feedback we got from the evaluation forms was something we are not used to; as in almost 100% positive!! People were so hungry for the information and it was devoured ravenously. Myself included. I realised very quickly that I needed to stop tweeting and just focus on taking notes and photos of Stephen’s slides.

P.S. If you did attend Sugar Surfing you might like to test your knowledge through this Pop Quiz.


In recent years, continuous glucose monitoring devices have become more accurate, more reliable and gaining popularity in the diabetes community. This increase in use has lead to the need for an “instruction manual” for people to get the best out of them. Dr. Ponder says that it’s important for people to know that he doesn’t manage anyone’s diabetes but what he does is give people the skills and the knowledge to manage their own diabetes.

Sugar Surfing is a phrase that Dr. Ponder coined while creating his workshops. He calls it “working the trend line”. The Sugar Surfing method includes elements of combining insulin action with food action. This means figuring out how long it takes for your insulin dose to start working and timing that with how long it takes for the food you have eaten to start affecting your blood glucose levels. It also means studying how different types of meals affect your blood glucose levels and designing an insulin dose or micro-doses to minimise the spikes. Dr Ponder says the a lot of what our HbA1c’s reflects can be found after we eat.

For decades, we have been noting what our blood sugars are before a meal and maybe two hours after a meal. The Sugar Surfing workshop has taught me that I need to pay attention to what’s happening from the time I take my insulin to when the food is finished processing and sometimes in the case of high fat, high protein or high carb meals that could take beyond 4 hours. Not all the time but enough of the time to master the meals.

Dr Ponder’s own HbA1c is 5.5% and I observed from the photos he was using of his own CGM data that his post meal spikes very seldom above 7 mmols. He did point out that he did start with a much wider range and then was able to fine tune it. But where he is now is impressive and inspiring.

He is also proof that you don’t have to do a low carbohydrate diet to achieve this. He described himself as an omni-carb 🙂 He said while low carb regimes can calm the waters they don’t factor in things like stress, site issues and unstable insulin. He displayed and talked us through his Fish and Chips experiment.

He also reminded us that important things to remember about type 1 diabetes is to never judge yourself, no one is perfect, and that diabetes care is a skill set to learn. People can find out more information about Sugar Surfing at

Here’s a little taster of what we learn.

The Principles of Sugar Surfing are;

– A CGM is no better than it’s user – Flux and Drift happen – steer them! – Set reasonable targets at first – Calibrate carefully – Keep your eye on the trend line – Learn to “wait for the bend” – patience – Master micro-dosing – Don’t let good enough be the enemy – Preempt; stay ahead of the wave – Sugar Surfing is a skill, not a recipe


The benefits of Sugar Surfing are:

– Not to feel restricted in what you eat – Attain and keep a lower range HbA1C – Live as normal a life as possible – Kick diabetes butt!!!

This event was organised completely by volunteers who live with type 1 diabetes and who have successfully organised two annual all-day Thriveabetes conferences. The next Thriveabetes Family Conference will take place on Saturday, 24th February 2018.

You can follow all Thriveabetes events through; Our website; Email me: Twitter: @Thriveabetes Facebook page:



“I’d just like to say that I get a huge sense of comfort being in the room with other parents and people living with T1. The support provided online is a lifeline but events such as Thriveabetes remind me of how important is also is to connect with these people offline and Thriveabetes achieves this in a very natural, friendly and supportive way. I can’t find the words to describe the atmosphere in the room on Saturday. It was a very special day.” Pam Kavanagh, volunteer with Thriveabetes.

“Fantastic content – empowering pwd . This is so important. Unfortunately unusual in Ireland in my experience.”

“Fantastic engaging dynamic speaker. Now I wish that I met him years ago”

“Excellent speaker and workshop. Explained things very simply and easily to understand. Can’t wait to try it. I have only been diagnosed with type 1 this year so really still learning, researching and testing what works best.”

“This was amazing Thank you learned a lot.”

“Very interesting, really nice to see other people with t1d”

“This was the most informative, qualified talk I have ever attended. Realistic and flexible approach. More of this please!”

“Very informative and useful talk and many thanks to Dr. Ponder for his amazing book and work in helping the diabetes community”

“This was a fantastic event. Thank you”

“A fantastic workshop Thank you so much”

“It was a fantastic event, the exhibitors were so informative and helpful. Dr. Ponder was amazing so educational and down to earth. Well done”