How to Live with Diabetes.

If you have diabetes, you’ll be looking into improving and maintaining your health for the long run. You control your diabetes successfully, by eating well, exercising and keeping informed about developments for better treatment. Your quality of life is also about finding ways to be happy, share with others and have fun in your life. While you’ve got a condition which will affect you medically, it is possible to start each day afresh and take control of your health rather than let it dictate your routine.

Make an appointment to discuss your overall health with your trusted health team. This is important, both so that you understand what will help you and you don’t feel alone dealing with this disease. In particular:

  • Always seek medical advice for any questions or concerns you may have.
  • Do not let small things go unnoticed––even little changes can mean something significant and the sooner you bring it to the attention of your doctor, the better.
  • If you have not been following your recommended diet, or taking your medications as directed, you need to see your doctor.

Follow your recommended diet with care. Your doctor or dietitian should have given you a diet to follow; diet is key to maintaining wellness when you have diabetes. Every diabetic individual has differing needs, so it’s likely that your doctor has tailored the diet suggestion to your specific needs.

  • If you haven’t been given a recommended diet, ask for one.
  • Ask questions about what special needs you have and where you can source healthful options from if they’re hard to obtain in your area.
  • Remember to drink carefully too––many commercial and homemade drinks contain sugar and other additions that may spoil a carefully followed diet if not accounted for.
  • A food diary can be helpful if you’re struggling to stay on track. This will let you see where you have food triggers (such as emotional eating when upset or eating sugary foods when tired, etc.) and allows you to plan ahead and prevent bad eating habits.
  • Learn to read labels. Everyone should read nutrition labels on food but for diabetics, this is even more important.

Know what is healthy to eat as a diabetic. The American Diabetes Association recommends food that is healthy for all persons, whether diabetic or not, so it’s nice to know that you are eating for health generally, not just to control the diabetes. The Association’s recommended foods include:

  • Whole grains, beans, noodles, and starchy vegetables (including unrefined potatoes): 6 or more total servings per day. (Breads and cereals should be limited and low in sodium, avoiding white flour.)
  • Fruit: 2-4 servings per day
  • Vegetables: 3-5 servings per day
  • Meat, fish, and cheese: 2-3 servings per day
  • Milk and yogurt: 2-3 servings per day
  • Fats, sweets, and alcohol: Small amounts (subject to your doctor’s recommendations)
  • Condiments should be low in sodium and free of sugar. Check the labels of foods that have been cured, pickled, corned, marinated, smoked and canned.
  • Keep abreast of changes in advice about food intake, as revisions do occur from time to time. Get updates in email format, talk to your doctor regularly and stay alert about nutritional discoveries for diabetics.

Drink at least 6 to 8 cups of fluid daily. While tap water is your absolute best first choice, you can also consume tea, coffee, unflavored soda/mineral waters, diet drinks, artificially sweetened drink powders, low calorie drinks, etc., unless otherwise advised by your doctor. You may need to limit the intake of milk due to its natural milk sugars––ask your doctor for advice.

Include “treats” in your diet. Be sure to ask your health advisers about the role of treats in your diet and what sort of treats are permissible. While sugary confectionery and sugary baked items are now out, this doesn’t mean the end of enjoying sweet treats. There are plenty of good diabetic cookbooks both in stores and online that you can use to recreate sugar-free treats that still taste fantastic. Many health food stores stock diabetic-suitable sweets and treats too, so start hunting around for substitutes that will still “hit the spot” and keep your sweet tooth satisfied.

Exercise regularly. Ask your doctor for the recommended amount of exercise in your case. Usually 20-30 minutes most days of the week is enough. Go for a walk with your friends, or maybe you like going to the gym. Different exercise works for different people, so experiment to find the exercise that you like most, after taking advice from your doctor.

Take your medications as directed. If you have been skipping doses of your medications, then you’re skipping life saving help and risk complications developing. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking your medications on time and in the correct dosage.

Keep your records updated. Your doctor gave you a record sheet to record your blood glucose levels. While it may seem like a chore, it is important to keep those records accurately and to show them to your doctor regularly.

Watch for diabetic complications. Knowledge is power over fear and if you’re aware of what can go wrong, you have a better chance of noticing the signs early enough to do something about them. Some of the complications that can arise when diabetic include:

  • Heart Disease and Stroke: People with diabetes have extra reasons to be mindful of heart and blood vessel disease. Diabetes carries an increased risk for heart attack, stroke, and complications related to poor circulation.
  • Kidney Disease: Diabetes can damage the kidneys, which not only can cause them to fail, but can also make them lose their ability to filter out waste products.
  • Eye Complications: Diabetes can cause eye problems and may lead to blindness. People with diabetes do have a higher risk of blindness than people without diabetes. Early detection and treatment of eye problems can save your sight.
  • Oral Health and Hygiene: Diabetes gives you a greater risk for gum disease. It’s a good idea to see your dentist regularly.
  • Diabetic Neuropathy and Nerve Damage: One of the most common complications of diabetes is diabetic neuropathy. Neuropathy means damage to the nerves that run throughout the body, connecting the spinal cord to muscles, skin, blood vessels, and other organs.
  • Foot Complications: People with diabetes can develop many different foot problems. Foot problems most often happen when there is nerve damage in the feet or when blood flow is poor.
  • Skin Complications: As many as one-third of people with diabetes will have a skin disorder caused or affected by diabetes at some time in their lives. In fact, such problems are sometimes the first sign that a person has diabetes. Luckily, most skin conditions can be prevented or easily treated if caught early.
  • Gastroparesis and Diabetes: Gastroparesis is a disorder that affects people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
  • Depression: Feeling down once in a while is normal. But some people feel a sadness that just won’t go away. Life seems hopeless. Feeling this way most of the day for two weeks or more is a sign of serious depression.

Seek support from people who care about you and from people who know what you’re going through. Explain your disease and how it impacts you to your loved ones and friends. They will be supportive when they understand how it affects your life. In some cases, you’ll probably find that family and friends are willing to help you with exercise, food choices and doctor’s visits. Beyond your close circle of friends, you can also reach out to people who have diabetes just like you, by joining a local diabetes support group and attending meet-ups. You may even make new friends but most importantly, you will get a sense of support and discover what others do to cope and lead a healthy life with diabetes.

Ask your doctor about lowering your blood sugar and the need for insulin or snacks for your sleep (night or day): not eating other than light protein snack near bedtime, especially stopping non-essential nutrients 2 or 3 hours before your sleep-time, drinking only water (not alcohol, no caffeine or other stimulants) at such times, telling yourself: “That food will be here tomorrow!”

  • Realize, those late-night snacks should be a no-no for people who have diabetes,per Mayo Clinic article.

  • Hungry after dinner — these “free” foods have few, if any, carbohydrates and calories, so “one” of them won’t cause weight gain or increased blood sugar. Choose a “free” food, such as:

    • A can of diet soda,
    • A serving of sugar-free gelatin,
    • Five baby carrots,
    • Two saltine crackers,
    • One vanilla wafer,
    • Four almonds (or similar nuts),
    • One piece of gum or small hard candy…
  • Give your nerves, liver and the digestive system time to finish work, and to rest and for general recovery, from the sugar produced by [continuing] digestion when asleep;

    Stop blood sugar being unnecessarily elevated during sleep.

    Stop fats or sugars being processed all night in the liver (and allow in-digestion to clear, as well).

Sleep (on an almost empty stomach!) — get 6, preferably 7 or more hours of sleep for recovery time for the nerves and all other systems to settle and rest. This will lower your diabetes problems, i.e.: blood sugar levels [and improve your blood pressure].

Follow these steps and don’t give up. Your life is not over it just needs a little tweak.

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