How To Practice Self-Care After Being Diagnosed With Diabetes
Diabetes has become more and more of a health crisis in the U.S. in recent years, with more than 29 million Americans living with the disease. Because it affects many people differently--and because there are different types of diabetes--there are various ways sufferers must treat it. Some are diagnosed at birth and must take insulin on a daily basis in order to function properly; others can get it under control with diet and exercise. No matter which form of diabetes a person has, however, they must remember to practice self-care at all times in order to keep the disease from affecting most parts of the body.
Diabetes starts with the pancreas, which normally produces insulin to take control of the sugar we ingest. When the pancreas doesn't produce a normal amount of insulin--or the cells don't function properly--blood sugar levels surge and cause a plethora of problems. High blood sugar can lead to decreased artery function, kidney issues, skin conditions, problems with vision, gum disease, and issues with just about every part of the body. For this reason, it's imperative to take control of the symptoms and keep them from causing damage.
One way to do this is to make sure you're getting proper exercise daily in order to keep the heart strong and to get fit. Losing weight is often the first thing doctors suggest to those who have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Begin with something simple, such as walking or swimming, and set a goal for the week so you'll have something to work toward. You might consider downloading an app that tracks your miles/calories lost so you can see something concrete at the end of the week; sometimes the scale isn't accurate and can drag down your productivity if you're unhappy with the number.
Monitoring blood sugar is essential with any type of diabetes, and these days monitors are relatively inexpensive and require only a slight prick of the finger to check levels. Your doctor will tell you how often to take readings, but it's always a good idea to write down everything you eat in a day and the times so you can correlate it with the blood sugar reading. This way, you'll be able to see which foods make it spike and which are okay. This is helpful because foods cause different reactions in different people, and some foods--like fruit--seem like a good option but might actually make blood sugar peak.
Make a meal plan for the week and stick to it, and make sure you are allowing yourself several snacks during the day. When we get hungry and in a hurry, we tend to grab the easiest thing to satisfy us, which isn't always the healthiest choice. If you have pre-planned and packed snacks and meals, everything will go much more smoothly and you'll be able to stick to a healthy diet that limits carbs and refined sugars.
Schedule regular appointments for the doctor and dentist for checkups. Making sure you practice good oral health is imperative, as gum disease and other mouth issues can lead to heart problems.
Finally, make sure you take your medication as prescribed and never skip it. Talk to your doctor about your needs and concerns and pay close attention to how your body reacts to medicine. Keeping notes will be helpful when it's time to visit the doctor so he'll know how best to help you.
Kim Thomas is on a mission to advocate for those suffering from chronic disease. She was inspired to create US Health Corps after her uncle was diagnosed with heart disease as a result of his lifelong struggle with obesity. When she is not writing about maintaining a healthy lifestyle, she can be found crafting, sewing and hiking with her husband and two sons.
Diabetic Diet Tricks and Tips
When it comes to nutrition, we can all learn from some diabetes diet tips and tricks. Since there are 79 million people in the US who have pre-diabetes and don’t even know it, one could make the case that everyone should be following a diabetes type diet for optimal health.
When you think of the nutritional needs for diabetics, the first thing that typically comes to mind is “No Sugar!” While sugar should be limited, it is a myth that is must be avoided completely. Diabetics are not bound to a diet free of desserts for the rest of their lives. Instead, most diabetics get to enjoy a wide variety of healthy, nutritious meals and snacks while still managing their blood glucose levels in a sensible way. This is something we could definitely all learn from.
Here are some other diabetes diet tips that can be applied to just about everyone.
1. Choose high-fiber, unrefined carbs. This is something you may have been hearing a lot about in recent years but there is still quite a bit of confusion. What is the difference between whole grain and 100% whole wheat? The difference is the 100%. Select pastas, breads, or crackers that specifically say 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grain. If the front of the package just says “Naturally whole grain,” that doesn’t really mean anything. Flip the package over and read the ingredients. The first ingredient should be 100% whole something. Other choices include brown rice over white rice, and steel cut oats over instant flavored oats. These types of carbs are better for you because they are digested slower. This results in less of a glucose spike and better numbers for you!
2. Get some healthy fats in your diet. Most people have way too much fat in their diet, typically in the form of oils. Avoid all kinds of oils, yes, even olive oil if you can. It is still very high in calories and does not provide a lot of nutritionally value beyond what you can get from sources like flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and avocados. Sauté in a pan with water or low sodium vegetable oil. Steam vegetables in a steamer or a rice cooker. Find salad dressings with little to no oil. Use balsamic vinegar and blended berries as a delicious sauce.
3. Make a list of all of the foods you CAN eat. Typically, diabetics tend to focus on all of the foods they have to avoid. This is not really the best way to think about your new diet. You are on a path to health and this includes a lot of wonderful foods you have probably never even tried before. Stop and take a look at all of the vegetables in the produce department at the store. Have you tried them all? Most likely not.
How about the fruits? You can eat fresh fruits because they are chock-full of fiber which helps the sugars digest properly. Have you had a papaya? How about a persimmon? How about whole grains like quinoa? There is a huge world of food opportunities out there to be explored. If you are not sure about how to prepare a diabetic friendly meal plan, use a meal delivery service that caters to those who have diabetes. You may get inspired to try new things and stay healthy on a doable, simple program.
4. Watch our Diabetes News Feed for information and advice from websites around the world.
5. Read this article about how to reverse type 2 diabetes. But take the title with a grain of salt, it’s good advice but it probably will not reverse your diabetes.