Supermodel Bambi Talks Type 1 Diabetes
New York City, NY – Bambi, 27-year-old Australian model who has been living with type 1 diabetes for more than half her life, caught up with Lauren Bongiorno, a fellow Beyond Type 1 global ambassador council member. Find out how she manages her type 1 diabetes (T1D) while traveling to exotic locals or what are her must-have snacks for on-the-go!
We’ve included the full, exclusive interview below, but this article is a condensed version of what we learned from Bambi about her life, her modeling and her type 1!
“I was diagnosed in year six, so I was 11 years old,” she told Lauren. “That’s 15, heading on 16 years [with type 1 diabetes].”
Bambi felt the stress of living with type 1 as she got older, saying, “Definitely mid-teens is hard because everyone’s changing, and you have this added complexity on top of that. So that time, I think, it was hard, like [age] 13, 14, 15. I don’t know what happened or how I changed it, but I think as you grow older you realize, you’re gonna have it the rest of your life and the more you control it, or for me, the more I control it, (the blood sugars), the easier it became.”
Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
Bambi hails from the land down under, but her work has taken her all over the world, from Europe to the U.S. Her family’s support finds her everywhere she goes.
“My family have been a great support always. I’ve got two sisters and mum and dad, and no matter where I am in the world, they’re always on FaceTime.”
Where hasn’t Bambi been? Lauren asked about the top places on her bucket list.
“Brazil is a place I would love to go,” Bambi said. “I haven’t really done China, I haven’t really done Russia and Brazil because Australians, we would have needed a visa to travel to Brazil.”
The heavy travel schedule is due to Bambi’s modeling career, which took off in 2010. This means she often catches early flights (up to eight per week!) in order to get to her destination shoots.
“I just got back from Hawaii,” she said, “I was shooting a Roxy campaign out there, but a job like that is like a 3:30 a.m. wake up. Hair and makeup, two hours, to get the sunrise by 5:30 a.m. and then, it’s a long day, I guess, shooting different beaches. If it’s in the studio, I guess it’s more controlled because there’s no wind, there’s no sun, there’s no sunrise, sunset.”
Bambi deals with such an intense daily grind by embracing the new places she explores and the new people she meets.
“It kind of changes everyday, which I think is one of the things that has kept me in the industry for so long, because I do get kind of like antsy easily, and I think the fact that it’s ever-changing and no day is the same as another.”
Challenge #1: Traveling and diabetes
It’s not all fun and games, though, Bambi continued. She told Lauren about the tough situations she manages when it comes to diabetes and self-care on the road.
“Travel is exciting and it takes you to new places, but then it affects your blood sugar, [like in] jet lag. It’s finding the foods that work for you in those new places. Or it’s like checking into a hotel in Spain at 10 p.m. having to have a shot and your nighttime dinner.”
Victory #1: Finding what works
“For me, diabetes works really well when I have a structure and it’s the most unstructured job ever,” she laughed.
“But if I can like try and keep up and take snacks with me when I travel and try and take an internal clock going, that works. In my spare time, I love to discover new places. I love to move around. I love listening to music. I just have to have a good soundtrack to my day.
“I love the beach. I went to the beach last weekend and it was crazy. It was like 40 [degrees] Fahrenheit, but if I jump in the ocean, I feel so fresh. I’m like a new person.”
Bambi’s travel must-have: snacks!
- Blueberry RX bars
- Instant oatmeal
- Dried fruit: mangos, mulberries
Diabetes: keeping it all in check
“I was on the pump for about 10 years, from when I was 14 to 24. It was great for when I was in school, but after a while, the pump I was on, you could only really do it in your stomach and your hips and your back — whereas I know now you can do it in your arms and thighs. I found it a bit limiting, especially with modeling, putting it in my stomach, so I switched back to pens, which I’ve been really enjoying.”
She continued, “I don’t actually mind injecting the pen. I have Lantus, the 24-hour Ensure, at like 8 p.m. every night. And then I have Novorapid, probably with breakfast, when I wake up, and then lunch, dinner.”
Fan question [edited for length and clarity]:
“You inspire me, Bambi. I am also living with type 1 diabetes, but hardly manage it because of my love for food. Please give me advice and what diet you do to keep your sugars at bay and weight down.”
“I think, everyone loves food [but sometimes] they treat food like the enemy. So, it is a fine balance, but you’ve gotta carefully look at your diet. Seeing what works for you because not the same thing will work for everyone, but also there is a lot of free foods you can have … that obviously won’t affect your blood sugar: so for that, maybe, you can have strawberries, you can have egg whites, you can have carrot sticks, celery. I really stick to low sugar in the morning. But I have a protein shake, but something just with really low sugar. I find if I have a fruit salad or an orange juice or something in the morning, so it would go up and then I feel like I’m chasing my blood sugar all day and that is stressful so I do oatmeal, but with no sugar.”
Throughout the rest of the day, Bambi says she prefers “using vegetables and proteins as the main source and having beans on the side or sweet potato or pumpkin or other things like in the meal, but the majority of the meal being fish or grains and I feel like that works for me.”
Favorite NYC pizza spot: Roberta’s
Although Bambi likes to splurge on this famed Brooklyn establishment’s slices during cheat days, “They do make a cauliflower-based pizza now!”
Challenge #2: Type 1 misconceptions
Being a model doesn’t mean Bambi is exempt from the judgement and confusion from the general public that many people with diabetes (PWDs) face.
“It’s not your fault. You know what your body has and is dealing with, so don’t let what other people would say affect you, but also don’t be shy to say that you have it.”
Bambi then segued into a story about debating whether to treat a low blood sugar during a workout class.
“I was in an exercise class and I had jelly beans in the corner and I knew I was low and I was scared. Should I go? Then like after ten minutes, I was like, no, I have to, I was sweating.”
Victory #2: Do what you need to do
She continued, “People looked at me like, who’s that weird girl eating jelly beans in the corner? But then I was like, no, actually it’s, like, my life. Don’t be ashamed to do what you need to do. You gotta do what you need to do.”