November is National Diabetes Month; a month to raise awareness about diabetes and healthy living.
Diabetes is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States. About 1 in 10 adults have diabetes, and more than 1 in 3 are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Managing diabetes is a lifelong commitment and can add multiple stressors to one’s life. Learning self-care behaviors such as eating healthy, being active, taking medications and problem solving can help manage your disease and reduce complications. Here are several areas that I feel need to be assessed frequently.
Take Your Medication as Prescribed
I can’t emphasize this enough. The single most important thing you can do to control your diabetes is take your medication as prescribed. Following the medication plan includes not only taking prescribed medications but, also taking them on time, at the right times, and at the correct frequency. If taking your medicine is an issue for you, there are a variety of administration aids to assist you with this process. Pill organizers, medications reminders, and blister packaging are just a few examples.
Did you know that one sleepless night can increase insulin resistance? Yes, I said one night! Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body does not use insulin efficiently to move glucose from the blood into the cells. This is a characteristic of both prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes. If you’re not sleeping, make sure you mention this to your healthcare provider at your next visit. This is definitely something that you don’t want to ignore.
Know Your Numbers
It’s difficult to make changes to improve your blood sugar levels if you don’t know what they are. If your healthcare providers have determined that you should check your blood sugars, ask them for recommendations on when and how often to test. You also want to keep an eye on your glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c). An HbA1c test gives you a picture of your average blood sugar control for the past 2 to 3 months and provides you with a better idea of how well your diabetes treatment plan is working.
Go for Short Walks
Aerobic activity, such as walking, is one of the most effective ways to lower your blood sugar, and you don’t have to block out a large amount of time to reap the benefits. Taking three 15-minutes walks after meals is just as effective for improving glucose control as going on longer walks. Take the dog for a short walk after breakfast, incorporate a quick power walk into your lunch break, and go for an evening stroll after dinner. It all adds up! The important thing to remember is that you need to do it regularly.
Stress and diabetes don’t mix. When you’re stressed, your blood sugar levels go up. And when you’re anxious, you may not manage your diabetes well. You may forget to check your glucose levels, exercise, eat right, or take your medications. Find ways to relieve stress — through journaling, moving your body, or hobbies that you enjoy. Do your best every day, and don’t beat yourself up if you fall short of meeting a goal. Be good to yourself!
Count Carbs & Fill Half of Your Plate with Veggies
Carbohydrates are macronutrients that break down into glucose. Most women need 30-45 grams of carbohydrate per meal, while men need 45-60 grams per meal. The recommended carbohydrate amount for snacks is around 15-30 grams. To give you an idea of how quickly this can add up… 1 slice of bread is 15 grams, a large banana is 30 grams and a cup of pasta is 45 grams.
Combining carbohydrate counting with the Diabetes Plate Method is a great recipe for blood sugar control. The Diabetes Plate Method is a simple guide that helps you control portion sizes of starchy, carbohydrate-containing foods. It also focuses on filling half of your place with non-starchy vegetables, and ensuring adequate protein intake. Aim to follow this method the majority of the time.
Keep a Food Journal
Awareness is key! Do you know what you are putting in your mouth every day? Tracking your food helps keep you accountable by giving you a visual of what your current intake really looks like. Portion sizes, timing of your meals and snacks, balance, fluid intake, and calorie intake; these are all pieces of the puzzle that you need to keep a close eye on. Some people prefer using pen and paper and others enjoy using an app on their phone. Just keep it simple.
Bottom line; diabetes control is certainly worth the effort.
Blue Mountain Hospital offers a lifestyle change program to help prevent type 2 diabetes, as well as outpatient diabetes medical nutrition therapy. For more information contact Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, Kim Jacobs @ 541-575-1311 or firstname.lastname@example.org