In almost 2 years of having diabetes i've learned there are 5 essential things needed for good diabetes control each of the “5 Pillars” I call them are designed to help you work towards successful glucose management. When you learn how to properly incorporate each pillar into you daily routine in a way that works for you, you’ll have all the right tips for good self-management.
1. Proper Nutrition Education. Doing a 60 day Juice Diet or the Latest Diet Crazy just won’t work when you need to take care of your diabetes. You need to work with a Registered Health Professional to properly educate yourself on the right things you should and shouldn’t be eating. Learn what foods help you control your diabetes and what foods poorly affect your glucose numbers. Find out what’s actually in the foods you’re eating and understand that healthy diabetic eating isn’t just about CARBS and SUGAR grams buts a whole list of things including Fiber Intake, Calories, Serving size, Protein and Fat Grams. Believe it or not, each number listed on the Nutrition Label has a different effect in your diabetes control. Don’t forget understanding what you’re really putting on your plate and how it’s affecting every aspect of your diabetes from Glucose Control to Risks for CAD and High Blood Pressure can make all the difference.
2. Exercise… It’s one of the best things for diabetes Management. It’s no secret how much diabetes experts are saying that regular exercise (Cardio, Resistance/Strength and Stretching) have major positive effects on diabetes control. Your Glucose numbers and overall health will thank you. Don’t feel like you half to run marathons to feel like you’re doing it right, start small and gradually increase over time. Find a fitness activity that you enjoy doing. Try a short walk. Walking a dog, with family or friends can make it more enjoyable. Try taking a dance class or going swimming. Even just parking the car farther away from the store and taking the stairs instead of Elevators. Every little bit helps. Just Be Active!
3. Stress Management! This one is big for me. Stress has huge correlations to diabetes Control especially your Blood Sugar numbers. I’ve noticed that when my stress is minimal my numbers are more likely to be in good range because most likely everything else is going well. When the stress takes over my numbers go up and up usually due to another pillar in the mix not being on track (mostly FOOD for me). Find healthy ways to deal with your stress instead of resorting to unhealthy food choices, Liquor or dangerous addictions. Learn what things triggers your stress and find coping mechanisms you can use to deal with these triggers. At the end of the day, we may not like doing this, but… TALKING HELPS! Find an online support group or even just letting your loved ones know what’s going on makes all the difference and can allow them to help you help yourself.
4. Self – Management! This is the most important thing in the equation. In diabetes you are the most important health provider in your care. You need to know what to do. How do you care for your feet? How do you monitor blood sugars and track carb intake? What medications and insulin are you on and when? How much do you need? What would you do if you got sick? How do you treat a Sugar Low or High? Proper Self-Management is about learning all the tools you need to care for your diabetes. Try taking a self-management program at a hospital or public health facility or have a mentor in your life that you can contact with questions or for support. Finally… Self-management also means knowing when to ask for help from a Health Care Professional. Have a support system of Health Care Experts in your network including your Family Doctor, CDE’s, RN’s, Dietitians, Endocrinologists, Podiatrists and Eye Specialists. Keep them in the know when your treatment plan changes or if you need assistance.
5. Finally Understand YOUR Body! A lot of us know when we feel a cold coming on. We just feel it, right! Well, the same can be said about a low or really high Blood Sugar. Find out how you get there; learn which symptoms you experience and how to treat it. What triggers headaches, colds/flu, symptoms of Neuropathy what works to treat it. Just because a Diabetes Organization says it doesn’t mean it’s going to work for everyone. We are all diabetics yes… but each of us is different. Our Treatments are different our meal planning is different our health is at different stages. So what works best for me and my care won’t necessarily work for yours. That’s why you need to find out what works for you. Oh and word of Advice. Make sure you know the difference between General Exhaustion/tiredness from daily activities vs. An Actual Low Blood Sugar episode. It can save your life, LITERALLY!
I hope that gives you a better understanding of my 5 Pillars to good Diabetes Control! All the best in your diabetes Care.