Living your healthiest life with diabetes

November is Diabetes Awareness Month.

The number of Americans with diabetes grows each year. There are various types of diabetes or diabetes-related conditions, including Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes.

Diabetes prevents your body from properly utilizing sugars from foods. The pancreas is the organ that produces insulin, in response to the foot you eat, that raises the sugar in your blood stream. Insulin is necessary to move this sugar into body cells to give you the energy for the body to work well. When you have diabetes, your pancreas isn’t functioning well.

With Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas isn’t working at all. With Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas works sluggishly, which can cause shifts in sugar levels. About 1 in 3 Americans are at risk for pre-diabetes, which often has no symptoms and, if not addressed, can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

Symptoms of diabetes include excessive thirst, frequent urination, irritability or fatigue throughout the day.

You could be at risk for diabetes or prediabetes if you:

• Have a family history of diabetes.

• Are overweight or have a BMI over 25.

• Have high blood pressure.

•Have high cholesterol.

People who are at higher risk for diabetes and pre-diabetes should avoid alcohol and smoking.

A simple finger-prick can determine if you have diabetes. For information on diabetes testing, talk to your primary-care physician, or call Beebe’s Population Health to learn about free screenings, at (302) 645-3337.

Living with diabetes

If you have diabetes, there are ways to help control it. Here are some tips for living your best life with diabetes.

(1) Eat right. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to follow a healthy nutrition plan. If you need help planning your meals, talk to your physician about scheduling you to see a dietitian. It is important to pack your plate with greens, yellows, and reds. Consider adding spinach, squash, or peppers to your plate on a regular basis.

Tip: Smartphone apps are easy to use and can help you track calories, fitness, vegetable consumption, and more! Try MyFitnessPal or a similar app to really make sure you are on the right track. Talk to your physician for a referral to a dietitian with Beebe Medical Nutrition Therapy.

(2) Get out. Make time for exercise in your day. Walking, biking or jogging can do a lot to improve your health, and help keep your weight and blood sugar under control. Take a brisk walk daily. Tip: Use a pedometer to track your steps and compete against yourself to see how far you can go. Studies show those using pedometers or fitness apps on a smartphone are more likely to get their steps in each day. Set a goal and make it happen.

(3) Find inner peace. We can all be brought to temptation if we feel stress or anxiety in our daily lives. Prevent making bad choices by meditating to reduce stress and improve your blood-sugar levels. A daily quiet meditation can last from five to 15 minutes and can keep you centered and on the right track.

(4) Plan ahead. One of the easiest ways to slip up on your health journey is during vacations or trips. Before you pack up, plan ahead. Make sure you have had a recent check-up, are stocked up on necessary medications, and plan your doses around time-zone changes.

In addition, if you are traveling to a new place, do some searching in advance for healthy places to eat. If you are concerned you will be hungry and not have a healthy option, pack some healthy snacks, such as carrots, celery, nuts or low-sugar protein bars. Stay away from overly processed high-calorie snacks and trade up to for healthy fats in nuts and fresh fruit.

(5) Lose it so you can use it. By dropping 10 percent of your body weight, you will feel better and your blood sugar levels will be easier to control. Diet and exercise are the best ways to make weight loss a reality, but it is also about sticking with your plan through weight plateaus and bad days. A commitment to weight loss is a long-term decision, so don’t let life’s potholes stand in your way. When you lose weight, you often have more energy and will feel more able to live your best life.

(6) Visualize your future. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to vision loss and even blindness. Keep an eye on your blood sugar levels and if you feel they are out of control, talk to your doctor or diabetes specialist about ways you can improve your numbers. An annual eye exam is recommended for those with diabetes to make sure your sight is not deteriorating.

(7) Put your best foot forward. Diabetes can lead to foot injuries, and in many cases, those with diabetes may experience a foot injury that doesn’t heal. Check your feet regularly, and if you have a blister, cut or sore that isn’t healing, talk to your doctor about a referral to Beebe Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine.

(8) Find your tribe. When you are living with diabetes or are newly diagnosed, support is key. Join a diabetes support group like the one hosted through Beebe.

When you are living with diabetes, it is important to know your numbers, exercise and eat right. To help you, Beebe recently launched a Diabetes & You email series. Sign up online at www.beebehealthcare.org/diabetes-and-you.

If you have diabetes and want some help managing it, Beebe offers free Healthy Living with Diabetes classes through our Population Health team. To learn about upcoming classes call (302)  645-3337. To speak with one of our certified diabetes educators or medical nutrition therapists, call (302) 645-3121 for Beebe Diabetes Management.

By Tina Trout, CNS, CDE
Beebe Diabetes Management