Five lifestyle tips for managing diabetes
Diabetes management involves day-to-day treatment as well as bigger-picture lifestyle choices. Commit to a healthier life with these lifestyle tips to help you manage your diabetes.
Diabetes is a group of diseases that result when the pancreas has difficulty producing or using insulin, a hormone which extracts glucose (sugar) from the foods you eat and turns it into energy.
There are two main types of diabetes:
Type 1 Diabetes: Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce insulin. It is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks itself, by destroying insulin-producing cells released by the pancreas. Those with type 1 must take insulin daily, since their bodies do not produce insulin on their own. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in childhood.Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes is the most common, and occurs when the body does not produce or use insulin effectively, called insulin resistance. Most with Type 2 must take insulin or pills to control their diabetes. The onset of type 2 and recognition of symptoms is usually a gradual process.
Gestational diabetes is another type of diabetes that some women develop during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes typically disappears before the baby is born, although diabetes may appear again later in life.
No matter what type of diabetes you have, it is not the same for everyone. Symptoms will vary; disease progression will be different. The first step is to learn what to expect so that you can be on the lookout for important indicators and take action accordingly.
You can also take classes to learn about diabetes and diabetes management. Fauquier Health offers a Diabetes Self-Management Class, which can help you learn the basics of diabetes management. The Diabetes Self-Management Class also covers everything from diabetic eye and foot care to diabetes medications.
You can learn about diabetes – and how to cope with its challenges -- through diabetes support groups. Whether you are a newly diagnosed diabetic or have been dealing with diabetes for years, support groups can help you get your questions answered and teach you diabetes management skills. Fauquier Health offers a free Diabetes Support Group for anyone with any type of diabetes.
Diabetes takes a toll on your body, but often the symptoms that you feel when you have diabetes do not happen until much of the damage is already done. Even though you may feel fine, when your doctor says you have diabetes or prediabetes, the time to take action is immediately. With the right lifestyle changes and monitoring you can eliminate many of the side effects of diabetes, but only if you act promptly.
Because living with diabetes means you have to pay attention to your body, your food, medications, sleep and stress levels, some people can feel overwhelmed at first. It is a lot to take in, and requires many lifestyle changes. However, those who commit to change soon begin to feel healthier, younger and more energetic. It is not uncommon for someone with diabetes so say, “I wish I had been diagnosed sooner so I could have felt this good years ago.” It gets easier with time.
Avoid long-term problems with diabetes by:
- Creating a routine involving glucose monitoring, blood pressure monitoring, body checks for oral and foot health, etc.
- Setting and maintaining exercise goals in order to stay active
- Staying at a healthy weight by managing your diet and eating well
- Checking-in with your health care providers
The diabetes educators at the Wellness Center can be a huge help with getting you on your way back to wellness.
Diabetes often requires a team of medical professionals to ensure you’re maintaining overall health. From your primary care physician to your dentist to your dietician, make sure you feel comfortable with and cared for by your medical team. In addition, fill close family and friends in on the struggles and challenges you may face in living with diabetes. Consider joining a diabetes support group, where you can connect with others who may have diabetes. While diabetes has its ups and downs, a strong support circle can help you maintain a positive outlook in diabetes management.
Learning how to cope with and lower stress is critical. Stress can raise blood sugar levels and contribute to insulin resistance. In addition, it can affect your sleeping habits and decision-making. It’s important to keep your stress levels in check for proper diabetes management.
Identify stressors in your life and either remove the cause if possible, or minimize them. Schedule regular positive or fun outings to keep your outlook bright. Try walking, deep breathing or mediation, yoga, listening to music, or engaging in a hobby you find relaxing and enjoyable. Make sure you’re getting an adequate amount of sleep each night.
If you’re interested in learning more about Fauquier Health’s diabetes treatment options, visit our Diabetes Services page or call us at (540) 316-5000.