5 Simple ways to manage your diabetes.
A beginners guide to help you control and manage your diabetes through a healthy lifestyle.
Diabetes is a chronic condition you can control.
When you’ve just heard that you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you may feel confused, upset, frightened and even overwhelmed. Or, you may be one of the people who are on the other side, who feel as unaffected by this diagnosis. No two people will react exactly the same way. However, one thing is for certain, you will be encouraged to make lifestyle changes, such as choosing healthier foods and becoming more active to help manage your blood sugar levels by regularly checking your glucose levels. Diabetes is something you can control. Take a deep breath and plan how you will approach making changes a step at a time. Here are recommended tips to help you discover your path to a healthy lifestyle while you manage your diabetes care.
Once you’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes, you will need to go for some tests and other checks, for example, your blood pressure, cholesterol to help better manage your diabetes. You may need to get a care provider to help tailor your diabetes care plan so that it best suits you and your changing lifestyle. Your plan should include weight-loss goals (if you’ve been advised to lose weight), your activities, your diet plan and all the tests and checks you need to go to. Schedule your meal times, activities and checks and tests in advance, so they are always in the back of your mind.
Regularly check your glucose levels
You will be encouraged to regularly inspect your blood sugar by checking your glucose levels through tests and doing certain things like flossing your teeth more often. The higher your blood sugar level, the higher your risk of getting cavities (tooth decay). The mouth naturally has many bacteria and when starchy and sugary foods and beverages come into contact with the bacteria in your mouth, they form a sticky film known as plaque on your teeth. The acids found in plaque will attack the surface of your teeth, slowly softening the surface of your teeth, wearing away at your teeth. This can lead to tooth decay. The higher the blood sugar level, the bigger the supply of starchy and sugary foods and beverages becomes – leading to more acid removing the surface of tooth enamel. Dental care is vital in controlling your blood sugar levels.
Focus on just one food and activity goal at a time
Making one diet change at a time is more realistic than making a complete diet change. Decide on what food goal you will focus on, it may be replacing a small packet of sweets a day with 2 fruits. Do the same with your exercise plan. If you’re not an active person, then start slowly. It’s easier to start walking around the block daily for a week than to join a boot camp class immediately after being diagnosed. Taking one small step at a time is more realistic and you are more likely to stick to that one goal, and by making it specific, it will motivate you to carry on and ultimately form healthier habits.
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Monitor Long Term Control with HbA1C Levels
The molecule Haemoglobin A1c, or HbA1C, is the percentage of the haemoglobin in the red blood cells that have glucose bound to it, providing an average measurement of the blood glucose levels during the last 2-3 months. The higher the glucose in your blood, the higher the presence of HbA1c. In order to provide a good summary of how good your diabetic control has been during that time, HbA1C has to be monitored at regular intervals – every 3 to 6 months in all people living with diabetes. Elevated HbA1C levels can provide early warning of future complications. So, if HbA1C levels elevate, your doctor will recommend appropriate treatment measures for better diabetes management. Remember that HbA1C is not the same as your glucose level.
Ask for support
Your lifestyle changes may largely impact those around you. So speak to them about your diagnosis and your next steps so they too can understand.
You need to realize that you can be a healthy person leading a normal life with diabetes, the only thing that will change is your lifestyle. In time, you can successfully achieve a healthy and active lifestyle destined for you while managing diabetes.
We all have questions.
Below are some of the answers to the most common questions that you need to know.
Which is worse – Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes?
“Worse” is a harsh comparison. The difference between these two types of Diabetes is that Type 1 requires insulin, and it never goes away. Type 2 requires consistent effort and can be managed over your lifetime.
What is the normal HbA1C level?
It is generally accepted that you should maintain HbA1C below 8%. The following guidelines are suggested by the South African Diabetes Association:
- 4 – 6% Non-Diabetic range.
- < 7% Well-controlled Diabetic 7% – 8% Acceptable Diabetic control > 8%
- Poor Diabetic control needs attention.
What is the main cause of Diabetes?
Diabetes (Type 1) is usually a predisposed or genetically inherited condition. Diabetes (Type 2) is caused by lifestyle choices. Gestational Diabetes can be caused by either genetics or lifestyle choices.
What are the first signs of Diabetes?
- Excessive thirst over a prolonged period.
- Increased frequency in the need to urinate.
- Significant weight loss or gain.
- You find yourself fatigued, tired, and irritable, on a regular basis.
- Open or ruptured wounds take a long time to heal.
- Blurred vision.
- Tingling sensations in your hands and feet.
Can you get life insurance if you have Diabetes?
Yes. AllLife can help you get up to R10million life insurance, as either a Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetic.
Can I test myself for Diabetes?
Although you can easily test your own blood glucose levels at any time, only your doctor, nurse, or clinic team can confirm a Diabetes diagnosis. This is because a series of specific tests are required for diagnosis.
Getting tested for, monitoring and managing Diabetes
Diabetes presents itself in different ways, but once you’re diagnosed, it’s critical to regularly monitor your blood sugar levels.
Your first day of living with Diabetes
Whether you expected it or the news came out of nowhere, your diabetes diagnosis changed your life.
Life after your Diabetes diagnosis: the one week milestone
Well done! You’ve made it through your first week since being faced with your life-changing Diabetes diagnosis.