Is managing diabetes possible? The attitude towards diabetes may range from indifference to extreme fear and agitation. Therefore, a clear understanding of the disease will help promote a proactive attitude towards its management. Simply put, diabetes is a condition in which the amount of glucose in the blood is too high because the body cannot handle it properly. This condition results from the inability of the pancreas to produce sufficient amounts of insulin. Insulin is the hormone that enables the body to properly use glucose and directing it to the cells where it is used for fuel. Glucose comes from carbohydrate digestion. In order to successfully manage diabetes, a means must be found to assist the body in properly digesting and metabolizing glucose.
There are several ways to manage diabetes. However, every program of diabetes management will require a change of diet, mindset and lifestyle.
- The first step in managing diabetes is to commit yourself to the care of a health professional. The healthcare professional / Doctor / Diabetologist will determine the severity of the patient’s diabetes and decide if insulin injections are required. In some less severe cases, pills may be given to aid in the body’s use of glucose. One of the aims of the health professional is to instruct the patient about controlling blood glucose levels. Insulin injections or pills taken at prescribed times achieve this goal.
- Beyond medical intervention, the most important method of managing diabetes is a change in lifestyle. This change will include careful attention to diet, which should be done under the guidance of an expert dietitian / dietician, and increased physical activity. Since diabetes is a condition where the blood glucose levels are too high, dietary plans to manage diabetes will include maintaining consistent levels of blood glucose throughout the day. A certified dietician can help determine what levels are optimal for each individual. These levels will be determined by many physical factors, including sex, age, occupation, and other health conditions. It is important to note (and take heart) that modifying diet to manage diabetes does not mean that any one food must be eliminated from your diet.
- The key to proper diet is balance and the healthy diabetic diet is simply a healthy diet, one that all individuals should adopt. Proper dietary management of diabetes includes eating regular meals based on wholegrain varieties of breads, cereals and pasta. At least five portions of fruits and vegetables should be eaten on a daily basis. Fruit intake should be spread out during the day to maintain optimal blood glucose levels. A good diet planned by an expert dietitian / dietician will also have lower salt and fat intake. Sugary foods should be cut to a minimum. If rich desserts are eaten, intake of other fats and carbohydrates need to be drastically reduced.
- Another factor in diabetic management is maintaining a safe weight. Most individuals with type 2 diabetes, the type of diabetes that occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or the insulin produced does not work properly, are overweight. Losing weight, with the help of a dietician / dietitian, will not only help control diabetes but lower the risk of other health problems such as cardiovascular diseases.
Successful diabetic management will require increased physical activity. Walking is a natural exercise that most people can do. Whenever possible, walk instead of ride, and take stairs instead of elevators and escalators. Increased physical activity goes beyond regulating blood sugar levels, it also benefits the heart, lungs, and joints and gives a sense of well being.
No one needs to succumb to the long-term negative side effects of diabetes. One needs to submit to the regular care of a health professional and take prescribed medication. Adopting a new lifestyle and mindset is a vital key to success. Eating wisely, watching your weight and increasing physical activity bring diabetes management into the realm of the possibility. These lifestyle changes make for all around good health.
The mental aspect of managing diabetes is often overlooked in published information. Diabetes can be emotionally difficult and may lead to depression. It is important to remember that you are not alone. Family support to the patients recently diagonosed with diabetes is of utmost importance. Hence proper counseling by a doctor and dietitian / dietician also would help boost the morale of the patients.