Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when your body is unable to perform its task of converting digested food into energy properly. The hormone (Insulin) is produced by the pancreas to do this job. However, either because there is insulin resistance or insufficient insulin produced or both, the job cannot be adequately carried out. Diabetes is associated with long-term complications and can affect the body in almost any part or organ. The complications can either be a stroke, nerve damage, kidney failure, blood vessel disease, as well as amputation and blindness. There are two types of this condition, namely type 1 or insulin-dependent and type 2 or non-insulin dependent.
According to the Worldwide Health Organization (WHO), 347 million people worldwide have diabetes; plus, in 2004, an estimated 3.3 million people died from consequences of high fasting blood sugar. These numbers are just too dangerous to ignore. After all, type 2 diabetes is a modern-day lifestyle disorder that primarily comes about from making the wrong food choices combined with a lack of exercise. For some, regularly drinking alcohol and smoking can be a negative lifestyle factor that can trigger the disease.
Self-management of Type 2 diabetes can seem like a very daunting task, and If not adequately treated, the high blood sugar levels can bring some complications and diseases. Proper management of diabetes is essential to the reduction of chances for diabetes complications. So, if a person’s food and lifestyle choices are the leading cause behind triggering type 2 diabetes, it seems logical this should be where we look to apply treatment first.
How do I go about starting to self-manage my Type 2 diabetes?
If you’ve just had a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. But there are lots of resources that can help you learn how to manage your condition. Your first steps in self-management will be ensuring an appropriate strict meal plan, being active physically (exercise), and routinely checking the blood glucose, adhering to advice on hygiene including keeping doctor’s appointment. Besides these, some people living with diabetes need to use medications like diabetes pills or insulin injections.
Diet and Exercise
Meal planning, exercise, and weight loss are the first steps to managing Type 2 diabetes. Meal planning is an integral part of controlling or even reversing Type 2 diabetes and not end up needing oral medications or insulin.
There are a few systems you can use for meal planning:
-Glycemic Index, and
-The Plate Method.
The meal plan you choose should be in a manageable portion and allow you to work around your schedule and eating habits. Eating small portions will assist the body in breaking down the food quickly. Diabetic patients are permitted to eat up to 4-5 times a day. A vegetable-rich diet is essential and should be a part of two or more meals per day. Non-starchy fruits that are great for persons living with diabetes include garden eggs, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes. Each of these methods will help you decide what to eat and how much to eat. Avoid fatty meals and soft drinks.
These methods will also help you:
-Eat correct portion sizes
-Spread out the carbohydrates you eat throughout the day
-Decrease the number of simple sugars you take in
Exercising helps control diabetes by lowering blood sugar. When you exercise, sugar is moved from your blood to your cells to give you the energy to move. Exercise also helps make your body more sensitive to insulin. Also, if you need to lose weight, exercise helps by burning extra calories.
Your doctor may prescribe oral medications to help you manage your blood sugar. Drugs prescribed by doctors must be used according to instructions to get the best result for you. Patients are advised not to indulge in self-medication as some medicines can interfere with diabetes medication and may worsen the glucose level. If there is a need to use some other drugs due to other ailments, your doctor will help decide whether you need medications and what type will work best.
There are several different types of oral medications that work in different ways:
Some decrease the amount of glucose produced in the liver.
Some make the kidneys excrete more than average glucose.
Some force the cells in your pancreas to release more insulin.
Measuring Blood Glucose
The presence or absence of diabetes is determined by the level of glucose in the blood. Blood glucose measurements should not be left until the doctor’s visit; everyone living with diabetes should have a glucometer for self-blood glucose monitoring. The glucometer is easy to use. The blood glucose level readings should be taken at least three times a week, preferably before breakfast. Dates and readings should be recorded in a notebook and taken along during visits to the hospital.
By making simple lifestyle changes combined with medical treatments, serious diabetes complications can be reduced to have blood glucose levels under control and in the normal range. Successful management of diabetes can allow patients to live a healthy and productive life.