Thrive With Diabetes - A Five-Pillar Approach

June 26, 2020
Diasome.comDiasome BlogThrive With Diabetes - A Five-Pillar Approach
Drew Harrisberg
Drew Harrisberg is an exercise physiologist, diabetes educator, sport scientist and person with type 1 diabetes. Drew is the founder of “Drew’s Daily Dose”, a website and blog whose mission is to inspire, empower and enable people to thrive with diabetes, rather than simply live with it. Drew’s background as a health professional and his own personal triumph with managing diabetes has ignited a passion in him to share everything he knows. Drew graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Applied Science (Exercise and Sports). He is an accredited exercise physiologist (AEP) as well as diabetes educator (GradCertDiabEdM). He has been featured in Australian Women’s Health, Australian Men’s Health, The Daily Mail and other notable publications where he has spoken to his personal experience and five-pillar approach to managing diabetes. He can be followed on Instagram @drews.daily.dose and Facebook @Drews-Daily-Dose.
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Hey, I’m Drew. I’m an exercise physiologist, sports scientist, diabetes educator, and most importantly, I’m a happy and healthy guy thriving with type 1 diabetes.

Sure, my world shifted when I was first diagnosed at age 21, but after making positive changes to the way that I live, eat, move, and the mindset in which I approach life, I can honestly say I am happier and healthier today with diabetes than I was before my diagnosis. So in a way, you could say that diabetes gave me the gift of health. I’ve not only accepted living with it, but I’ve also learned to love it and manage it so that it doesn’t manage me.

My background as a qualified health professional and my personal experience with successfully managing diabetes has ignited a passion to share everything I know, which is why I created Drew’s Daily Dose - a home that inspires, empowers, and enables people to thrive rather than simply survive.

My mission is to equip you with the tools required to take control of your health so that like me, you can live your best life!

The Five Pillars

Diabetes has enabled me to discover what it means to be healthy. By combining my first-hand experience living with diabetes and an abundance of scientific evidence, I’ve developed a unique, holistic, evidence-based five-pillar approach to help you thrive!

My five-pillar approach goes beyond successfully managing diabetes. It’s a life-changing approach that lays the foundation for health and happiness – whether you are living with diabetes or not. It has been designed to empower and enable you to take full control of your health.


I always say, “Exercise is a form of medicine that we can freely and happily administer to ourselves”. Exercise (or movement) is one of the most reliable tools in my toolkit. It has many diabetes-specific benefits, including improving insulin sensitivity, opening the glucose gateway to the cells of the body and helping to deplete muscle glycogen, which is a powerful combination for optimal blood glucose control and overall diabetes management. Whether it’s resistance training with weights, HIIT, bodyweight workouts, walking, or aerobics to name a few - the opportunities to move are endless and they all have their unique benefits. Just move in a way that feels right for you!


I have tried several ways of eating over the past 10 years living with type 1 diabetes ranging from paleo to keto and am now currently on a whole food plant-based diet. All of the different dietary frameworks have had unique effects on my diabetes control. Low carbohydrate (carb) diets can be a good way to manage the symptoms of type 1 diabetes and some may prefer this approach. Alternatively, a low-fat, whole-food plant-based diet has been shown to improve blood sugar regulation, meaning that you can achieve great blood glucose control without sacrificing healthful carbohydrate-rich foods. To keep it simple, Michael Pollan said, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”By food, Pollan means real food that your great-grandmother would recognize and that is not advertised on television.

Daily living

“Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realise they were the big things”

I have developed what I call my Six S’s, i.e. six daily lifestyle factors that I attribute a significant amount of my health and happiness.


Adequate sleep is not only vital for survival and optimal functioning, but research has shown that as little as 5 sleep-deprived nights can lead to impaired glucose tolerance and decreased sensitivity to insulin, which is why I prioritise sleep quality and quantity every single night.


The goal is not to be stress-free, the goal is to be stress-fit! Acute stressors like a tough workout are healthy but chronic stress is the problem. Catecholamines are stress hormones that signal the liver to mobilise glucose and dump it into the bloodstream hence why stress management techniques can directly impact one’s blood glucose control by slowing down glucose output.


Research has shown walking after meals is a very effective way to stabilise blood glucose levels. They say, aim for ten thousand steps per day, but I say don’t put a cap on it.


We evolved spending time in nature under the sun. 5-10 minutes of direct sun per day is great for your health and wellbeing. Considering that sunlight has both positive and negative health effects, the key is to maximise the benefits (Vitamin-D production) whilst minimising the damage (sunburn-induced cellular/DNA damage).


Don’t underestimate the importance of community. Human connection has been lost in the modern world due to smartphone technology. We need to make a conscious effort to spend less time looking at screens and more time looking into other people’s eyes. Make an effort to see your family and friends regularly. Meet new people, make new friends, be an engaged member of a community.


Engage with people and activities that not only put a physical smile on your face but make your soul smile. One of the easiest ways to do this is to play! Play with your kids, grandkids, pets, or play sports. The point is, seek joyful activities every day.


When we exercise we train our bodies – when we’re mindful we train our brains.

After being diagnosed with diabetes, my entire outlook on life changed. Diabetes catalysed a perspective shift. It taught me to appreciate the things I do have, rather than focusing on the things I don’t have. Sure there was an initial grieving process where I would constantly say to myself: ‘Why me?’, ‘What did I do to deserve this?’, ‘My life will never be the same again’, but when the dust settled, I saw the world differently. I had a new sense of clarity that I’d never had before.

Mindfulness is a tool to use to extract the most out of every moment of your life. It’s about being conscious, connected, present and aware.

“Wherever you are, be all there”


All four of the previous pillars funnel into this one. Insulin and blood glucose management is not just important for people living with diabetes but it is important for everyone, regardless of your disease status.

Managing your insulin and glucose levels is important not only to prevent the frightening short- and long-term complications of diabetes but to prevent manage and reverse an array of co-morbidities associated with insulin resistance and diabetes.

I will be releasing an e-book on my website soon with a more in-depth breakdown of my five-pillar approach as well as an exercise and nutrition plan. Go to to sign up for a copy.

Share your story with us.

Diasome seeks to serve people with diabetes by developing cutting-edge therapies and by serving as a forum for our community to educate and inform others about the challenges and successes in living with diabetes. We actively seek perspectives from the rich and diverse world of clinicians, scientists, thought leaders and people with diabetes. To share your unique perspective with us, email Diasome at

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