If you have been diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, it is not the end of the world. Diabetes is a serious threat to health and wellbeing. Untamed, it can rob you of every one of the natural physical pleasures of life; but it doesn’t have to. Here are some facts and tips worth knowing. On average, at the time of diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, most people have already had the condition or pre-condition for 6 to 10 years! But, the sooner you know, the greater the chance it can be reversed. The process of developing type 1 or type 2 diabetes takes time; it is not as sudden as it appears. You know how it is when you are driving and the other car just “comes out of nowhere”? Well, that’s not what really happened – you just didn’t see the other car until it was right there, but it had been coming all along. So it is with diabetes.
Many people benefit from good diabetes education classes or going to a Lifestyle Center where the staff has experience and expertise in treating people with the metabolic syndrome, diabesity, prediabetes, and diabetes. The sooner you act, the better it will be for you to make the “you-turn” if possible. You must control this disease, or it will control you! Here is what to do as you work with your doctor and healthcare team:
To Do list:
Check the Scales
If you are overweight, you may be “overfat.” This must be reduced. All body fat is not created equal. The fat around your waist and the fat around your internal organs are the areas most responsible for the metabolic derangements you are facing. So the “fat has to go!” If your waist measurement is more than 34.5 inches (88 cm) if you are a woman, or 40 inches (102 cm) if you are a man, you will benefit from a makeover. But do this sensibly by following the advice given in the articles in this blog dealing with healthful eating, exercise, sleeping, and stress reduction. You don’t have to go it alone; get help and get moving.
Check Blood Sugar Levels
If you have diabetes, there is no substitute for actually checking your blood sugar levels yourself and following a strategy. Knowing how what you do (or don’t do) affects your blood sugar and YOUR metabolism gives you a distinct advantage. Get a glucometer and the strips for the particular brand and check at the following times: before breakfast, 2 hours after breakfast, before lunch, 2 hours after lunch, before dinner, 2 hours after dinner, and before going to bed. You may think that 7 times per day is a lot. But serious problems require serious solutions, and this is part of the solution. You need to know what is happening in your body and how your meals affect your blood sugar. So now YOU can check a few more times so you can see how your physical activity also affects things.
Check your Blood Sugar Before and After Every Bout of Exercise
You only have to do this so many times at the beginning i.e. UNTIL YOU KNOW HOW YOUR BODY IS DOING. Then you will adopt another regimen that requires less frequent testing. The goals are as follows: Before any meal, you want your blood sugars to be less than 100mg/dl (5.5 mmol/L). And 2 hours after all meals, they should be less than 140 mg/dl (7.7 mmol/L). For exercise, you should see a 5% decrease in blood sugar. But if you are “stressed out” by the exercise, you might see a 5% rise. Not to worry. However, if you are taking medications and especially if you are injecting insulin: Wear a medical identification badge or bracelet (e.g. MedicAlert), or carry an identification card that states that you have diabetes. Check your sugars before, during, and after exercise. And always carry glucose tablets or paste to treat low blood sugars. Don’t forget drinking water to keep well hydrated. Once the blood sugar responses are known, they will guide you in your eating and activity. Get help when needed! Keep blood sugar and exercise logs, and show these to your doctor.
Know your Blood Pressure — Keep it Normal.
If you have diabetes, you must get your blood pressure to normal to avoid cardiovascular complications. Normal is less than 120/80 mmHg. Get a home or portable unit, and check mornings and at bedtime. Keep a log, and show that to your doctor. You will find practical tips to reduce high blood pressure by clicking on the hypertension tab in our blog.
If you Smoke: Stop!
If you don’t smoke – DON’T start! Get help if you can’t do it alone. Community-based programs, church-based programs, medical programs, and lifestyle centers might be worth checking into.
Know your Numbers
A1C, cholesterol, triglycerides and urine microalbumin. Hemoglobin A1C measures the sugar-coating of your red blood cells (a reflection of the level of blood sugar over the previous 3-4 months. That number should be less than 6 (equivalent to an average blood sugar of 126mg/dl (mmol/L). There are home measuring kits available at pharmacies without prescription.
Diabetes causes cardiovascular disease; cholesterol and triglyceride levels are markers for heart disease risk. Get your cholesterol down to 150 mg/dl if possible, and your triglycerides to the 100-120 mg/dl range. Have your doctor check the protein in your urine at least every 6 months to evaluate the health of your kidneys. If caught early, kidney damage can be avoided by keeping A1C, blood sugar, and blood pressure under control. Eating plant-based proteins, engaging in moderate exercise each day, and avoiding sugary drinks will all help to protect your kidneys.
Don’t be “De-feeted”
Check your feet, and have the nerves in your lower extremities checked by your doctor at every visit. Inspect your feet before and after use! This is, in the morning before you go out and at bedtime as part of your evening routine. Place a hand mirror on the floor to see the bottom of your feet easily.
Brush and floss the teeth you wish to keep. Dental and gum disease are worsened by diabetes so good oral hygiene and dental checkups are essential. Brushing after each meal and flossing at least once per day are good habits to adopt.
Keep your EYES on the Prize
Get regular dilated eye exams to check for, prevent, and control diabetes-related eye disease. People with diabetes and high blood pressure also have increased risk of glaucoma. So get your eye-pressure checked at least annually.
Take Medication Wisely
If you have to take medications, use them as directed; and keep your doctor informed of any side-effects you experience or concerns that you have.
Make an Attitude Adjustment
People with diabetes are more prone to depression, anxiety, insomnia, and even dementia, but none of these need be yours. Don’t deny the reality of the illness. Deal with the reality of it, and get educated, get help, and fight back. If you feel you can’t cope, remember you are not alone. There are many competent, knowledgeable, and compassionate doctors, nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, dietitians, nutritionists, health educators, and counselors who are ready, willing, and able to be part of your team. Choose wisely and don’t forget to plug in to the divine Power Source for strength, courage, and wisdom to adjust, advance, and thrive despite diabetes. And when you are helped, help someone else. This will multiply the benefits.