If you or a family member have been diagnosed with diabetes, you know the challenges it adds to your life. You’ll have to make changes to your day-to-day routine and educate yourself on how to stay on top of your health. With the right information and lifestyle choices, you can maintain control over diabetes.
The Johnston Health diabetes education program is a leader in its field and has been recognized by the American Diabetes Association for offering high-quality services. You can count on us to regularly provide information on the disease, treatments, recipes for tasty dishes, and answers for all of your questions.
So what is diabetes, and how can you cope with it?
There are two types of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes occurs when your body’s pancreas doesn’t produce any insulin.
- Type 2 diabetes, which is more common, occurs when the pancreas either doesn’t produce enough insulin or your body’s cells ignore the insulin.
As you digest food, your body changes most of the food you eat into glucose and insulin allows this glucose to enter all the cells of your body to be used as energy. When you have diabetes, the glucose builds up in your blood instead of moving into the cells.
The goal of diabetes treatment is to keep your blood sugar level as close to normal as possible — not too high (hyperglycemia) and not too low (hypoglycemia). This involves certain lifestyle changes including eating a healthy diet, exercising and watching your weight, as well as regularly checking your blood sugar.
Regular blood sugar checks are important to show how food, exercise, and insulin or medicine affect your level so that you and your doctor can develop a treatment plan and adjust as needed. You can also keep track of what you’ve eaten and how active you’ve been during the day to help you see how food and exercise affect blood sugar levels. You’ll quickly learn which foods affect your blood sugar level based on how you feel and your overall health.
Here are some general tips for developing healthy habits:
- Try to eat at about the same time each day to keep your insulin and sugar levels steady.
- Have a snack at bedtime if you’re taking medicine or insulin but otherwise, avoid snacking unless you’re exercising or treating hypoglycemia.
- If you’re overweight, lose weight. Any amount of weight loss can help lower your blood sugar levels.
- Fiber — green leafy vegetables, whole grains and fruits — is a healthy choice. It helps you feel full and aids with digestion.
- Avoid foods high in sugar and fat, and limit alcohol consumption based on your doctor’s recommendations.
- Exercise regularly. It helps your body consume more oxygen, causing your muscles to use more glucose which helps your blood sugar level drops.
- Stop smoking.
Taking care of yourself is key to dealing with your disease — check back often for tips and recipes for living with diabetes.