“Oh no, not diabetes!”, most people think silently to themselves when the doctors break the news to them.
Diabetes in its many varying forms is an often dreaded condition. This is caused by the worry of experiencing further damage to the body, and also having to say goodbye to our favourite indulgences. But it is severely misunderstood, and the potential for its holistic management continues to be untapped.
As soon as a diagnosis is made, people tend to go on binge diets in anticipation of the medicines and stringent diets headed their way. But this binge and starve cycle is vicious. Instead, taking the diagnosis as a cue to improve your lifestyle, can fare better in the long term.
Keep reading to know 8 steps you can take to manage your diabetes better.
1. Look out for the early warning signs
Even before being diagnosed with diabetes, it is important for everyone to be aware of its related symptoms. With 72.96 million cases in India, being aware of the early signs is an easy way to get early help. Some of the warning signs for diabetes (of any type) are frequent urination, increased thirst, constant hunger, increased fatigue, and patches of darkened skin around the neck, armpits, or groin.
However, it’s simply not enough to notice these symptoms. You should also take active charge of your health by consulting with an expert doctor based on them.
2. Accept your diabetes diagnosis
Once you’ve been diagnosed, there are no benefits in blaming oneself or being depressed over it. Acceptance is the first step to recovery and in this case, effective disease management. Try to understand your blood sugar levels, the type of diabetes that you have, and even about the medication that your doctor is considering for you. Being an active participant in your disease management is half the battle won.
3. Time to set new goals
If you’ve never had health-related goals, make your diagnosis the cue to do so. Being diabetic warrants attention to all aspects of your lifestyle such as diet, exercise and stress management. Work with your doctor to find out healthcare goals that can help you manage your condition better. It could range from eating a more fibrous diet to losing a few kilos. But a goal that reduces your symptoms is a win any day!
4. Don’t blame yourself
Diabetes is often caused by a number of complexities such as lifestyle, genetics, and other physiological factors. Being diagnosed with it should not be treated as a personal failing, and rather as something that can be controlled with the help of the right management tactics. Instead, focus your energy on learning more, and changing your lifestyle for the better.
5. Prioritize disease management
Most common variants of diabetes are characterized by resistance to the insulin made by our own body, and lower levels of insulin production to meet the needs of the body. These factors can lead to further complications like heart disease, stroke, vision problems and neuropathy. But with the right disease management tactics – diet, lifestyle, and medication, the condition can be controlled and the progress of the disease can be regulated.
Ignoring the symptoms is a very common approach, which may not pose any immediate danger. But over a period of time, this can lead to the above-mentioned complications and more.
6. Reassess your diet
It’s time to rewrite the thought of diabetes severity being directly related to your sugar intake. Your insulin levels are not just regulated by your sugar intake, but rather anything that can impact your insulin production. This is especially true in the case of carbohydrates.
A diabetes-friendly diet would ideally include a lot of fresh produce, healthy fats, lean proteins and good vitamins. It will always fare better to reduce the amount of carbohydrate intake or to have low glycemic index variants of it. You should also make sure that you don’t drink your calories through drinks that falsely claim to be healthy.
Practising portion control is the most important practice that you can begin, as it will help you better regulate your blood sugar levels, your satiety and your weight in the long run.
7. Make a commitment to exercise
Working out is much more important than you could ever imagine. Putting your body through the motions for at least 30 minutes a day can help lower your blood glucose and help it process insulin better. But if you find any activities you truly love, or you find ways to sneak in physical exercise through the day, it can help you feel more energized and will keep your body working at its best form.
8. Get into the habit of routine self-monitoring
Accountability goes a long way in ensuring the management of any condition. With the availability of devices like glucometers, it has become easier for everyone to actively monitor their vitals and see the impact of their efforts on their health. Getting into the habit of routine self-monitoring could be the single most important step to take after being diagnosed.
By testing before and after meals, exercises, or other scenarios, you can also figure out how your blood glucose levels vary and respond to certain triggers. Rather than wanting to lose weight, or cut down on medication, keeping ideal readings in mind is a good approach to managing diabetes.
Like most battles, the one against diabetes is also half in the mind and having the right attitude can go a long way in effectively managing it. Think of diabetes as a hurdle, and not the end of the line. With the right mindset and information, you can overcome the challenge and travel even further in life.
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