It’s been one month since you were diagnosed as Diabetic.
Your side effects from new medication should be steadily subsiding, and your food journal should be ready for your review.
By now you realise that being a Diabetic doesn’t mean total doom and gloom. Your side effects from your new medication should be steadily subsiding, and your food journal should be ready for your review. If you’re not convinced that your body has adjusted to your medication, it’s time to visit your doctor, nurse or clinic sister. Your medication can be changed if necessary, and you may want to share your food journal for further advice.
Read your food journal, and adjust your lifestyle as a Diabetic
If you tried to keep the food journal, you might notice that the way you think about food has changed. Through recording every snack and meal, you have forced yourself to think twice about what you consumed. Poor eating decisions are often made spontaneously, before your rational side kicks in.
By repeating the thought process, and fully describing your food/beverage choice, impulse decisions become tougher to commit to. You create a second opportunity to think logically, therefore improving the odds of making a more constructive decision. The food journal technique is deemed so effective that it was also introduced into the South African education system. Grades 10-12 students are expected to engage in this activity to raise awareness of the importance of thinking twice and acting once.
Understanding your own habits
Your food choices are influenced by many things, as we discussed at the one week milestone. Your budget, the nature of your job, your family responsibilities such as the school run, looking after your parents or children at home, and also your subconscious tendencies. Your food journal creates a window through which you can better understand where, when and why you make these food choices.
You might argue that it’s just about the taste of good food, but your choices are driven by far more complex factors. The first thing to look for is whether you personally avoided your usual cravings, because of having to record everything. If that’s the case, then you know that taking a moment to stop and record things will help you make better choices.
Notice the times of day you eat, and the correspondence to what you choose. Are these foods high in saturated fats, deep fried or sweet in taste? How often are you eating refined or bleached foods like white bread? Look at your morning or evening decisions, and search for any patterns of convenience-seeking, like stopping to get a pie on your way home after work.
Finding a pattern in your behaviour arms you in preparing for future situations. For example, if you do stop to get a pie on your way home, make an extra portion of your dinner the night before. This lets you ‘heat and eat’ as soon as you arrive from work. It’s a wholesome meal, more likely to include fresh ingredients and be healthier than the pie. You’ll also notice that this method can build up a financial saving for you over time.
How do you decide what to change first?
Discuss your food journal with your doctor, nurse or clinic sister. He/She can guide your first steps to changing your eating habits for the better. Making a big change is sometimes stressful and it’s hard to keep up over a long period of time. If you can find small ways to change, and constantly reflect on those small wins, the overall success may surprise you.
Challenge yourself to prepare your dinners in advance. Remove the need to stop for a pie by keeping an extra fruit in your lunch bag so you can eat that instead. For every day that you avoid buying a pie, add up the amount of money you save. Watch that number climb as you move forward into your next month of living as a Diabetic. You’ll feel proud of yourself for your accomplishments.
Once you’re fully adjusted to the first small change, look towards making the next one, by looking at your habits then.
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What should you do next?
If you are still experiencing side effects from your medication, speak to your doctor, nurse or clinic sister. Share your food journal in case any of your symptoms are related to what you’ve been eating or drinking. Ask all the questions on your mind, and request advice on what the first change should be.
If it’s overwhelming to completely cut out something from your diet, try to at least reduce your consumption. Keep your food journal, but now document the changes you’d like to make.
Let’s revisit the example of cutting out the late afternoon pies. You’d write in for each day you successfully substituted fruit in for the pie, or that you prepared a meal the day before.
When we reach the second month milestone, we’ll talk more about this. Until then, you are most welcome to browse our Diabetes website for more information and answers to other questions you might have.
Akter, S, Rahman, MM, Abe, SK and Sultana, P. 2018. Prevalence of diabetes and prediabetes and their risk factors among Bangladeshi adults: a nationwide survey. World Health Organisation. Vol.92:pp204-213. Available online at: https://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/92/3/13-128371/en/ [Accessed 15 October 2019].
Healthline. 2019. Diabetes: facts, statistics, and you. Article online. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/facts-statistics-infographic#1 [Accessed 15 October 2019].
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