Diabetes is a silent disease affecting the lives of millions each year. Chances are you know someone with diabetes—a friend, family member or maybe even you. I am one of the millions living with diabetes. As a certified diabetes educator, I work to educate myself and others about how to prevent diabetes from impacting your life and how you can take care of yourself to improve your health if you have diabetes.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes happens when your body does not properly use the sugar in the body. The different types of diabetes are related to the reasons the body is not using the sugar. This excess sugar causes clogs in the blood stream, leading to the complications.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form. With type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin, or it resists insulin. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, hunger, fatigue and blurred vision. However, in some cases, there may be no symptoms.
Here are the risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes:
- Having prediabetes
- Being overweight
- Being 45 years or older
- Having a parent, brother or sister with type 2 diabetes
- Being physically active less than three times a week
- Previous gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or given birth to a baby who weighed more than nine pounds
- Being African-American, Hispanic/Latino-American, American Indian, or Alaska Native (some Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans are also at higher risk)
How Do I Manage Diabetes?
We must help our bodies use the sugar. It’s all about eating healthier, exercising more and taking better care of ourselves. When I think about how best to care for diabetes I think about BALANCE.
Balance in diabetes can mean a lot of things when caring for and trying to prevent diabetes. Balance means finding the time to take care of yourself. We all know if we don’t care for ourselves, then we can’t care for others. Here are eight areas that I focus on and share with others to take care of yourself.
1. Eat Mindfully
- Don’t eat in front of the TV
- Take small bites
- Taste your food
- Add protein and fiber to feel full
2. Take Time to Exercise & Be Active
- Park farther away
- Stand during commercials
- At minimum, commit to five minutes…it’s better than zero
3. Be Consistent When Taking Medicine
- Place your medicine where you will see it
- Use an alarm to remind you when to take your medicine
- Mark your calendar so you know you took your medicine
- Follow your doctor’s advice
4. Find Ways to Decrease Stress
- Take 10 deep breaths
- Get 5 minutes of quiet
- Put yourself in timeout if you have to (your kids will find this intriguing)
5. Add Vegetables So Meals Aren’t Meat or Carbohydrate-Heavy
- Add lots of color
- Make a meal plan
- Don’t fight…just get creative
6. Find Ways to Keep Your Whole Family Active
- Go swimming together
- Go to the zoo
- Take the kids shopping
- Use active video games like Wii or YouTube
7. Find Ways to Eat at Home, Even When You Don’t Want to Cook
- Cook freezer or microwaveable meals
- Cook in the crockpot
- Plan ahead and prepare the day or weekend before
8. Eat More Fruits & Vegetables
- Look for sales (canned and frozen often are on sale)
- Take vegetables from neighbors or coworkers who grow them
- Grow your own garden
- Buy what’s in season
Taking a Goal & Making it SMART
Much of what I do in my job is help people figure out how to achieve their goals. For instance, I would love to lose ten pounds. How can I do that? I can exercise more and eat less. However, these plans are vague. When making goals, we have to make the goal SMART.
S – Specific: I will increase my exercise by 5 minutes each day.
M – Measurable: I will exercise an extra 25 minutes per week.
A – Achievable: I can add 5 extra minutes per day while watching TV.
R – Realistic: I can add 5 minutes in the evening and increase my exercise. I cannot increase my exercise by 30 minutes daily. I don’t have the time.
T– Time-bound: I will increase my exercise and reevaluate by the end of the month. If no improvement is seen, I will change my goal strategy
Get the Help You Need to Prevent or Manage Diabetes
If you’re struggling with your diabetes or weight management (which could lead to diabetes), there is help waiting for you. Bryan Diabetes Center has nurses who are certified diabetes educators and licensed medical nutrition therapists/registered dietitians who also serve as diabetes educators. We’re here to help you manage your diabetes or get on track to prevent getting diabetes in the future. Insurance often covers this kind of education. Ask your provider for a referral to Bryan LifePointe today!
Check out these resources:
Health ExpertSamantha Beckler is a Certified Diabetes Educator with Bryan Diabetes Center.
Attend the Bryan Diabetes Health Fair
Join us on Tuesday, November 14 from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for this special FREE event with the Bryan Diabetes Center and Bryan LifePointe! You’ll have the opportunity to speak with certified diabetes educators, visit vendor exhibits, find out how exercise impacts your blood sugar, view a cooking demonstration and much more!