Diabetes is not a Devil
It’s common for people to undergo a whirlwind of emotions after being diagnosed with diabetes. The sheer disbelief of being diagnosed, and the ensuing state of confusion and depression is enough to make a devil out of diabetes. However, there is Hope. Type 1 or type 2, people can survive diabetes and lead fulfilling lives!
Even as numerous patients shudder at the fact that they are diabetic, Diabetes Educators at Apollo Sugar Clinics make it a point to create awareness regarding the psychological aspect of diabetes.
Yes. Though diabetes is a variable metabolic syndrome, there is a major psychological aspect to it that cannot be avoided. This is because people with diabetes can lead complete lives, but with some rigors. And, to follow these rigors, one needs constant psychological support.
Managing diabetes needs management of diet, exercise, and medications. A failure of any of these can lead to uncontrolled diabetes, which causes eye, kidney, and nerve diseases.
*See below for exercise tips for people with diabetes
Living with diabetes is challenging. And, the crux of it lies in controlling blood sugar levels. If you control blood sugar and cholesterol levels, you are more or less safe from numerous complications of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Here are 10 tips you need to follow in order to keep your blood sugar levels in control–
1. Self-monitoring of blood glucose levels –
Monitoring of blood glucose levels on a regular basis is the most important aspect of diabetes management. For this, you might have to use a glucometer. By monitoring your blood glucose levels on a regular basis, you would be able to avoid hypoglycaemia (low sugar levels) and hyperglycemia (high sugar levels). Maintaining a log of your sugar levels allows your doctors to assess fluctuations in blood sugar levels and thus alter the diabetes treatment plan.
2. Periodical checkups –
You need to get some diabetes tests done periodically apart from your blood sugar tests and HbA1c, which is done once in three months. Diabetes is known to cause complications like diabetic retinopathy, diabetic nephropathy, diabetic neuropathy (causing diabetic foot) and cardiovascular diseases. So, it is important to get certain diagnostic tests done in order to assess the efficacy of the treatment. This would enable your doctors to adjust medication and diet to compensate the damage done to the organs. Generally, the diagnostic tests include:
a. Dilated fundoscopy to evaluate the retina of the eye.
b. Urine microalbumin to assess the kidneys.
c. Sensory perception test of the feet.
d. Lipid profile test for cholesterol levels.
3. Diet –
Managing diet for a patient with diabetes is another important aspect. Consuming the right amount of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and dietary fibre is vital to maintain blood sugar levels and cholesterol. Eat more fruits, vegetables, nuts, flax seeds, olive oil, avocados, chicken, eggs, high-fibre cereals and whole grains. Avoid trans fats, fast foods, sweets, chips, white bread, white rice, desserts, processed meat, and red meat.
Dietary dos and don’ts for people with diabetes
|Dos (Eat)||Don’ts (Avoid)|
|Brown rice||White rice|
|Channa, oats, millets||Corn and cornflakes|
|Whole grain bread||White bread|
|Whole wheat pasta||Regular pasta|
|Sweet potatoes, cauliflower||White potatoes|
|Papaya, apple, guava, pear, orange||Fruit juice beverages|
|High-fibre cookies, Nuts, Seeds, Idli, Upma, Poha, Dhokla, non-sweetened yogurt||Deep fried snacks|
|Fish, skinless chicken, tofu.||Red meat, steak, hot dogs, sausages.|
|Bitter Gourd, Indian Blackberry, Garlic, Onion, Flax seed||Dried fruit, canned vegetables with added sodium, frozen vegetables, sweet sauces|
|Coffee – black or with low-fat milk||Flavoured coffee|
4. Diabetes bars and shakes as meal replacement –
Bars or shakes made specifically for people with diabetes can help you control blood sugar levels when you are on the go because when these diabetes bars and shakes are used as a meal replacement or snack, they can take the guesswork out of carbohydrate counting. Carry them in your purse, suitcase, or stock your desk drawer so you will always have a suitable choice when you are stuck in traffic or can’t take a proper break for lunch. But if you fall into the habit of eating them in addition to your usual meals or snacks, both your weight and your blood sugar levels may increase. You always have to replace them for other foods or your calorie and carb intake will likely be too high.
5. Cinnamon as a natural flavor booster –
Cinnamon contains a number of compounds that improve insulin sensitivity and insulin action. For people with type 2 diabetes, the consumption of cinnamon leads to lower fasting blood glucose, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as a beneficial increase in their HDL cholesterol levels. You can enjoy this fragrant spice to delight your taste buds without extra calories or sodium. Cinnamon brings out the natural sweetness of tomatoes in a sauce and adds an interesting complexity to beef and poultry. Sprinkle it on oatmeal, yogurt, and fruit to boost sweetness without adding sugar. However, cinnamon might not lower blood sugar.
6. Have a cup of green tea –
Replacing sugary beverages with green tea is a great way to cut calories, save carbs, and get a good dose of disease-fighting polyphenols. But don’t always bank on it to lower your blood sugar, though green tea may help prevent type 2 diabetes and improve insulin sensitivity. Green tea extracts in high doses have been associated with several cases of liver toxicity so not more than a cup of green tea is advisable for a diabetic, every day.
7. Stay hydrated & save calories –
It’s a good idea to drink plenty of calorie-free beverages, especially a lot of water every day when your blood sugar levels are elevated. Because high blood sugar can cause excessive urination, drinking plenty of water helps prevent dehydration and saves extra calories you may add up consuming other beverages.
8. A dash of vinegar –
A spoonful of vinegar with every meal helps the blood sugar go down. Consuming about 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar, diluted in a cup of water or consumed as part of a salad before a meal may help slow the post-meal surge in blood glucose by as much as 40%. Vinegar may inhibit starch digestion and hold food in the stomach a little longer which is good for a diabetic. Take advantage of vinegar’s benefits by splashing some on a salad and adding it to cooked vegetables, or make your own vinaigrette with two parts vinegar to one part olive oil. If you use insulin, use vinegar cautiously.
9. Get quality sleep –
Less sleep or poor sleep can disrupt your hormones leading to an increased appetite, higher blood sugar, and a thicker waistline, which you might want to avoid. Stick to a sleeping pattern that works for you. If you have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about your sleeping pattern to see if they warrant an assessment for sleep apnea, which is a potentially serious sleep disorder. Studies claim, that a small amount of weight loss can dramatically decrease sleep apnea.
10. Exercise to boost energy & improve sleep –
Inactivity can reduce the quality of sleep, and poor sleep leaves you too lethargic to exercise. Sneak in at least a few minutes of daily exercise by walking during your lunch break and taking the stairs instead of the lift. Always remember that, every single time you exercise, you are improving insulin sensitivity, and a good workout can help you rest well at night.
Exercise tips for people with Diabetes
• Do not start with very high goals.
• Look at the big picture. Maintaining a physically active life would help you manage your diabetes better.
• A brisk walk for 30 minutes a day is a great way to start your exercise regimen.
• For elderly diabetics, yoga or tai chi for about 30 minutes is a better option. This would help avoid nerve damage.
• If you have taken your diabetes medications, be sure that you consume some carbohydrates in order to avoid hypoglycaemia.
• If you are dependent on insulin, it is better to measure your sugar level before exercise. If your sugar level is/below 70 mg/dl, take carbohydrates.
• For high intensity exercises, it is better to consume extra carbohydrates, or carry an energy bar along with you.
• Weight training is highly beneficial and should be done with 10 to 15 repetitions in order to avoid muscle wastage. Muscle wastage leads to poor blood glucose control.
• During physical activity, it is important to wear proper diabetic footwear in order to avoid foot injuries.