August 9, 2014
Things to Help Manage Diabetes
You will have to excuse my rant, but when authors write about mistakes people with diabetes make, they seem to dance around the core issues and leave a lot to be desired. The author(s) always leave education off the table, self-monitoring of blood glucose seems taboo, and even self-education is not mentioned.
Managing diabetes could be more successful if these three topics were included in discussion like this WebMD article. The title of the article is 6 Diabetes Mistakes -- and How to Avoid Them. Granted the six mistakes are common and need to be put forward, but without the three topics above, they are not as meaningful.
The mistakes are:
Not Taking Control of Your Condition. It is true that you have to take control and manage your diabetes. It is your job to manage your diet, exercise, and take your medication on schedule as directed by your doctor. This does not mean that you cannot discuss your medication(s) with your doctor – this you should do to understand the purpose of the medication(s) and if you need to be aware of any adverse side effects.
Expecting Too Much Too Soon. Many of the newly diagnosed expect changes to happen immediately. You did not develop diabetes overnight, and managing diabetes does not happen overnight. You will need to use your blood glucose meter to test how foods affect your blood glucose and eat to your meter. This means reducing the quantity of some foods and removing some foods from your meal plans.
Expecting too much to change right away is a mistake – and so is doing too much before you are ready. When it comes to exercise, take small steps. If you do more than you can tolerate, you may quit, or do too much and hurt yourself. So start slowly and ease into the habit. Be sure to talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you aren’t already active. They can help you set realistic goals and plan a routine that’s safe and effective.
Going It Alone. One error that people make when it comes to exercise is that they try to do it without help from other people. Not only do spouses, partners, friends, and family members make great exercise buddies, but also they are also terrific cheerleaders. So don’t hesitate to ask a loved one to help you stick to your medication schedule or eat a healthy diet, or help you manage your diabetes, if needed.
Neglecting Other Problems. I wish this would not happen, but quite often does happen. Depression, stress, and often sleep apnea are totally ignored by the newly diagnosed. The lethargy common to depression can be so discouraging that you might give up your efforts to take care of your diabetes. Not only will that make your diabetes worse, it may also intensify your depression, creating a vicious cycle.
Depression and stress can also have a negative effect on blood sugar levels. Constant stress may increase hormones that hamper the ability of insulin to do its job.
Exercise helps relieve stress, and there’s evidence that meditation and massage will benefit blood sugar levels. If you are overweight, make sure you find out about sleep apnea and if your family complains about your snoring, don't put it off. Lack of good sleep makes diabetes management more difficult.
Misunderstanding and Misusing Medications. This happens all too often. Many patients perceive medications to be more powerful than their meal plan and exercise.
In many cases, type 2 diabetes can be controlled by a combination of a healthy meal plan and regular exercise without the need for medication. But for many people, medication can be helpful, too.
It’s surprising how many people miss doses of their medication. Getting off track with your medication(s) is a quick way to wreck your blood sugar level.
Making Poor Food Choices. The biggest hurdle in making good food choices is carbohydrates. You must control your carbohydrate intake to keep your blood glucose levels steady. We have been mislead for half a century to avoid fats and this is damaging our health as many advocate for high carbohydrate meal plans to go along with the low fat. For people with diabetes, this is health damaging. Extra test strips will cost you money that the insurance will not reimburse, but this may be necessary if your doctor will not request a three or four month exception to insurance policy. Until you have established a new meal, plan and have reduced the number of carbohydrates and know what to expect, eating to your meter is a wise plan.
This means keeping a meal plan diary to keep track of what you’re eating and drinking, and always reading nutrition labels so you know what’s in the food you’re choosing. It is also smart to avoid highly processed foods.