WARNING! By reading this you might know how to improve your blood sugar levels!

(This is a three-part series with insights to live free with diabetes)

Part – I

Shockingly Simple Ways to Control Your Blood Sugar Levels

Diabetes control in a nut shell:

1. Eat more whole grains, legumes, and low-fat dairy.
2. Eat fiber-rich foods.
3. Eat avocados, almonds, walnuts, and olives.
4. Eat foods rich in chromium and magnesium.
5. Drink apple cider vinegar.
6. Use cinnamon in cooking.
7. Restrict sodium intake to 1500 mg per day.
8. Reduce Weight.
9. Quit Smoking.
10. Maintain Blood Pressure at 130/80.
11. Never miss out on medications.
12. Get more than 150 minutes of walking per week.
13. Maintain your cholesterol levels at the target levels.
14. Get periodical medical checkups.
15. Wear diabetic footwear.

*Extra: See below for 20 foods that help you with diabetes control!

For a person newly diagnosed with diabetes, life revolves around three diagnostic tests – fasting blood sugar test, postprandial blood sugar test, and HbA1c. But more than anything else, the disbelief of being diagnosed with diabetes is all consuming. It jolts a person and might take some time to accept the fact.

You never know how strong you are!

It is at this time that you really need the support of your family and friends. Grief, sadness, fear of death, confusion, stress, frustration, and questions like “Why me?” tend to overwhelm most people. You are not alone.

Though it is easier said than done, ruminating, getting depressed, or browsing the internet and getting alarmed does not help!

Talk to your doctor, talk to your family and take some time to digest the fact. Diabetes can be managed with diet, exercise, and medication. Of course, it does need a good bit of mental strength!

Diabetes Management Guidelines

Diabetes caregivers including endocrinologists, diabetes educators, and clinical nutritionists provide diabetes care that emphasizes on the following principles:

• Education of the disease condition, its symptoms, its complications and treatment.
• Periodical medical evaluation including complication screening.This includes evaluating and avoiding risk of cardiovascular diseases, kidney diseases, retinopathy, neuropathy, and foot damage.
• Lifestyle management including cessation of smoking, weight control, dietary control, exercise, adherence to treatment plan, and self-monitoring of blood glucose levels.
• Reaching target glycemic levels (fasting blood sugar level, postprandial level, & HbA1c level).
• Coping up with emergencies like hypoglycemia, illnesses, stress, and surgeries.

What you need to do

After having understood the fact that you have diabetes, the first step is to consult a competent diabetologist, and get a robust treatment plan. But in the case of diabetes, this treatment would work only with your active participation. You need to do certain things for optimum diabetes control and to lead an active life.

• Frequent self-monitoring of blood glucose levels (as per doctor’s advice). It is important for type 1 diabetes patients to check their blood sugar levels at 3: 00 AM.
• Maintain your diabetes diet chart. Ensure that your meal consists of complex carbohydrates (55- 65%), vegetables, and protein (not more than 15%). The diet should also contain a balance of mono and polysaturated fats.
• Restrict your sodium (salt)intake to 1500 milligrams per day.
• Exercise for at least 30 minutes per day. Physical activity is very important to maintain diabetes control. Get more than 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic activity. Get cardiac assessment before physical activity.
• Stick to your medications. Never miss out even on a single dose of medication.
• Quit smoking. Smoking has devastating consequences along with diabetes.
• Manage your cholesterol levels.
• Keep your blood pressure under control.
• Target fasting blood sugar level: 80 to 130 mg/dL (the exact target shall be determined by your diabetes doctor).
• Target postprandial blood sugar level: Less than 180 mg/dL (the exact target shall be determined by your diabetes doctor).
• Target HbA1c level: Less than 7% (the exact target shall be determined by your diabetes doctor).

Understanding and Managing Hypoglycemia:

Hypoglycemia is a condition when the blood sugar levels are low. Hypoglycemia can be mild and severe. It occurs due to a miscalculation of an insulin dosage, reduced food intake, skipping a meal, increased physical activity, alcohol consumption, or by adopting a low carbohydrate diet.

Mild low blood sugar symptoms

• Sudden hunger.
• Trembling.
• Rapid heartbeat.
• Pale skin.
• Poor coordination.
• Numbness in mouth or lips.
• Confusion or irritability.
• Blurred vision.

Hypoglycemia requires immediate and prompt treatment. The rule of “15” is a good bet to treat low blood sugar levels. If your sugar levels are below 70 mg/dL, consume 15 grams of carbohydrates and wait for 15 minutes. Measure your blood glucose levels again. If they are still below 70 mg/dL, consume 15 grams of carbohydrates again and wait for 15 minutes. Measure blood glucose levels again.

If your blood glucose levels are still lower than 70 mg/dL, repeat the steps and this time measure after one hour. If the symptoms do not subside, consult your nearest doctor.

Severe low blood sugar symptoms

• Confusion.
• Becoming argumentative.
• Extreme tiredness.
• Seizures or convulsions.
• Unconsciousness.

In cases of severe hypoglycemia, if the person is conscious, the person should be given 20 grams of glucose tablets or 4 teaspoons of sugar (honey or syrup). In case the patient is unconscious, he/she should be given 1 mg of glucagon and should be transported to a hospital for emergency medical care.

20 Foods that help you with diabetes control

1. Garlic.
2. Spinach.
3. Chia Seeds.
4. Almonds and nuts.
5. Bitter Melon.
6. Bitter gourd.
7. Green Beans.
8. Carrots.
9. Snake gourd.
10. Sweet potato.
11. Dark leafy green vegetables.
12. Fish.
13. Kala Jamun (black plum).
14. Onions.
15. Guava
16. Pomegranate.
17. Papaya.
18. Apples.
19. Flaxseed.
20. Oats.

Now, just because these foods are good for people with diabetes it does not mean that you can consume them at will. The magic formula for diabetes control is control over portion sizes. Always eat foods in moderation!

Stay tuned for Part II: Sugar Hangover and Two Major Mistakes People with Diabetes Make