Living Your Best Life with Diabetes
More than 25 million Americans have diabetes and the number is growing each year. Diabetes prevents your body from properly utilizing sugars from foods. The pancreas is the organ that produces insulin, which breaks down the carbohydrates in the food you eat to provide energy to your cells. When you have diabetes, your pancreas isn’t functioning well.
With Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas isn’t working at all. With Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas works sluggishly and the cells in your body become resistant to insulin, which can cause high blood sugar.
Symptoms include excessive hunger or thirst, frequent urination, irritability, or excessive fatigue.
Risk factors include a family history of diabetes, advanced age, higher weight or BMI over 25. High blood pressure and high cholesterol also can mean a higher risk of diabetes. People at risk for diabetes should avoid excessive alcohol consumption and smoking.
A simple finger-prick can determine if you have diabetes. For information on diabetes testing, talk to your primary care physician, or call Beebe’s Population Health to learn when they have free screenings at (302) 645-3337.
Living With Diabetes
If you have diabetes, there are ways to help control it. Here are some tips from Tina Trout, APRN, ACNS-BC, Certified Diabetes Educator at Beebe Healthcare, for living your best life with diabetes.
1. Eat Right. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to follow a healthy nutrition plan. If you need help planning your meals, talk to your physician about scheduling you to see a dietitian. It is important to pack your plate with greens, yellows, and reds. Consider adding spinach, squash, or peppers to your plate on a regular basis. Tip: Smartphone apps are easy to use and can help you track calories, fitness, vegetable consumption, and more! Try MyFitnessPal or a similar app to really make sure you are on the right track.
2. Get Out. Make time for exercise in your day. Walking, biking, or jogging can do a lot to improve your health and help keep your weight and blood sugar under control. Take a brisk walk daily! Tip: Use a pedometer to track your steps and compete against yourself to see how far you can go! Studies show those using pedometers or fitness apps on a smartphone are more likely to get their steps in each day! Set a goal and make it happen.
3. Find Inner Peace. We can all be brought to temptation if we feel stress or anxiety in our daily lives. Prevent making bad choices by meditating to reduce stress and improve your blood sugar levels. A daily quiet meditation can last from five to 15 minutes and can keep you centered and on the right track. Contact Beebe’s Integrative Health department for more information at (302) 645-3528.
4. Plan Ahead. One of the easiest ways to slip up on your health journey is during vacations or trips. Before you pack up, plan ahead. Make sure you have had a recent check-up, are stocked up on necessary medications, and plan your doses around time zone changes. In addition, if you are traveling to a new place, do some searching in advance for healthy places to eat. If you are concerned you will be hungry and not have a healthy option, pack some healthy snacks such as carrots, celery, nuts or low-sugar protein bars. Stay away from overly processed high-calorie snacks and trade up to healthy fats in nuts and sweet whole fruit.
5. Lose It So You Can Use It. By dropping 10 percent of your body weight, you will feel better and your blood sugar levels will be easier to control. Diet and exercise are the best ways to make weight loss a reality, but it is also about sticking with your plan through weight plateaus and bad days. A commitment to weight loss is a long-term decision, so don’t let life’s potholes stand in your way. When you lose weight, you often have more energy and will feel more able to live your best life.
7. Visualize Your Future. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to vision loss and even blindness. Keep an eye on your blood sugar levels and if you feel they are out of control, talk to your doctor or diabetes specialist about ways you can improve your numbers. Also, make sure to schedule an eye exam at least once each year to make sure your sight is not deteriorating.
8. Put Your Best Foot Forward. Diabetes can lead to foot injuries and in many cases, those with diabetes may experience a foot injury that doesn’t heal and that you might not feel. Check your feet regularly and if you have a blister, cut, or sore that isn’t healing, talk to your doctor about referring you to Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine.
9. Find Your Tribe. When you are living with diabetes or are newly diagnosed, support is key. Join a diabetes support group like the one hosted through Beebe. Call (302) 645-3121 to find out more.
When you are living with diabetes, it is important to know your numbers, exercise, and eat right. Follow these tips to live your best life!