May 9, 2012

Diabetes Has Its Bad Habits to Avoid

No, diabetes is not a cakewalk. It has its own set of problems and they can sneak in when least expected. They can wreck havoc with blood glucose levels and destroy will power when you need it most. Some use the following terms - traps, pitfalls, weaknesses, and lack of discipline. I don't care what you use for your favorite term, but these bad habits can really make of mess of good blood glucose management.

In good blood glucose management some things should become habits or for those that do not like habits at least daily tasks. These should become part of your routine just like brushing your teeth. Why is it then that people have such problems with this list (sorry, the link is broken now)? There may be others, but I have seen this list several times in the last few years, so there must be something to it. I can only find the one now on the internet and my second source is a clipping my daughter sent me about seven years ago – sorry no source information came with the clipping. It lists two additional items beyond the link above.

The items listed in lists of bad habits are:
1. Not testing blood glucose.
2. Not taking diabetic medications at the right time.
3. Skipping meals.
4. Emotional eating.
5. Binge eating.
6. Drinking too much sugar.
7. Skipping veggies.
8. Avoiding fish in favor of red meat.
9. Not losing at least 10 percent of body weight (if needed).
10. Skipping exercise – stop being a couch potato
11. Getting too little sleep

For many of us, number nine above could be an excellent idea, but some people do not need to lose weight so I leave this in only for those of us that need this reminder.
Since the link has a video and explanation with of the eleven bad habits, I will let you read them there.

The two additional items from the clipping are avoiding most alcohol and not seeing your doctor when scheduled. Alcohol does strange things to blood glucose and may mask BG readings. Many people continue to have more alcohol than they should, but small quantities occasionally may still be okay for some individuals. Others should stop consuming all forms of alcohol with diabetes.

Not keeping a doctors appointment when scheduled seems to be more common than I would have thought. Unfortunately, there are more reasonable and practical excuses, but still excuses for missing an appointment. Meet the doctor that uses fear to make patients follow instructions and I will show you patients that will consistently miss appointments. Also, doctors that ignore your questions and talk at instead of with you and you will find patients missing appointments. Not every patient misses appointments, but there are too many patients missing appointments.

There are other bad habits that I occasionally see listed and they are health centered and need to be added to any list.

Not paying attention to your nutrition. This is becoming more difficult because of the on going actions of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) and their takeover of the activities of nutritionists. We may now have to learn nutrition on our own to circumvent the dogmas and mantras of whole grains and low fat. Obtaining unbiased and balanced nutritional information may become a thing of the past.

Not inspecting your feet daily. As a person with diabetes, I know the importance of doing this daily. Daily inspection of your feet becomes important because of peripheral neuropathy. One statement I will make is something a cardiologist made to me in the day following my diagnosis. He said always wear shoes or thick sole slippers around the house. This has stayed with me and has proven very good advice, as I know that more than once it has saved me from inflicting myself by stepping on broken glass shards. Yes, accidents do happen and dishes and containers happen to slip out of our hands and break on the floor. You may think you have cleaned all of it up, but you can always miss something. I know because I have found pieces in the bottom of my shoes and slippers on more than one occasion.

Have not stopped smoking. Even I did not stop smoking for some time after my diagnosis. It took several doctors asking me appointment after appointment to get me to stop finally. Add to this my wife politely asking and then begging me. I will admit I enjoyed smoking and had not wanted to quit, but when confronted with this again and again, I finally gave it up. After the fact, yes, I wish I had stopped sooner.

Stop yo-yo dieting. Since I do not believe in dieting, I have no problems with this. Yes, I need to lose some more weight; however, with the changes I have made now, I am starting to shed some of it. I have seen many people that go from diet to diet, find that they lose some weight, and as soon as they stop, gain it all back. This is actually harder on your health than maintaining weight and then slowly changing what you consume healthfully to reduce your weight.

Stop Self-Diagnosing and let your doctor(s) do their job. This does not mean that you should stop keeping daily records such as blood glucose readings, a food log, and records of your lab test results. For the right doctor, this may give him/her the answers as to why things are heading in the direction they are. Always keep a written sheet of questions to ask your doctor. Your doctor does not live with you 24/7/365 and you must learn how to manage your diabetes in the interim, but self-diagnosing is taking matters into your own hands and often conflicts with your doctor's efforts to keep you well. If you believe your doctor isn't up to par, or if his diabetes treatment methods aren't working for you, find another diabetes specialist.

Lack of self-discipline. This is often the one that gets more people in trouble with their diabetes. Call it lack of will power, or a bad habit of self-indulgence, but this spells real trouble for people with diabetes. This also contributes to higher A1c's and earlier onset of diabetes complications. A positive attitude of “I can do this” can help this in many ways.

The last item I want to discuss is one I hear from type 2 people more often that I care to – My doctor did not say anything about this. This is the excuse they use for not wanting to do something that they should. I know that some doctors do not cover everything, but the problem is often with the patient when they do not listen to their doctor when he is talking. My term for this is “selective hearing.” Many patients do this when they hear certain words from their doctor. This often happens and is as bad as the doctors that go on “autopilot” and ramble on.

If you feel something else needs to be added, please leave a comment.

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