When it comes to diabetes management, blood sugar control is often the central theme. After all, keeping your blood sugar level within your target range can help you live a long and healthy life. Speaking of a long and healthy life, do you know what makes your blood sugar level rise and fall, especially when it comes to supporting a loved one? Below, I’ve listed a couple of examples that have always helped me during my 10 year journey with type 1. Hopefully you can use some to help you support your loved one.
Diabetes Diet & Eating:
Healthy eating is a cornerstone of any diabetes management plan. But it’s not just what you eat that affects your blood sugar level. How much you eat and when you eat matters, too.
What to do:
- Keep to a schedule. As most people with diabetes know, your blood sugar level is highest an hour or two after you eat, and then begins to fall. This predictable pattern can work to your advantage. You can help lessen the amount of change in your blood sugar levels if you eat at the same time every day, eat several small meals a day or eat healthy snacks at regular times between meals.
- Make every meal well-balanced. As much as possible, plan for every meal to have the right mix of healthy starches, fruits and vegetables, proteins, and fats. It’s especially important to eat about the same amount of carbohydrates at each meal and snack because they have a big effect on blood sugar levels. Talk to your doctor, nurse or dietitian about the best food choices and appropriate balance.
- Eat the right amount of foods. Learn what portion size is appropriate for each type of food. Simplify your meal planning by writing down portions for the foods you eat often. Use measuring cups or a scale to ensure proper portion size.
- Coordinate your meals and medication. Too little food in comparison to your diabetes medications — especially insulin — may result in dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Too much food may cause your blood sugar level to climb too high (hyperglycemia). Talk to your diabetes health care team about how to best coordinate meal and medication schedules. Typically I take my insulin about 15 minutes before sitting down to eat.
Exercising With Diabetes:
Regular exercise is an important part of long term management of diabetes. Since peripheral neuropathy often has serious effects on muscle mass and control in the arms and legs, muscle-building exercises can be an important way of managing some of the physical effects of diabetes. Developing an effective weight training routine you can do easily in your own home may be easier than going to a gym.
The onset of type 2 is strongly correlated with being overweight, but other factors can sometimes contribute. In some cases, if type 2 is diagnosed early enough, and it is a mild enough case, proper diet combined with regular exercise may lead to the disappearance of diabetic symptoms. While there is a very strong chance the diabetes will return later in life, adding a few more years of good health will certainly help minimize side effects later in life. While exercise can never ‘cure’ type 1 diabetes it is still important.
Diabetes management can be a complex process, but understanding the basics of your medication, healthy dietary choices and appropriate and regular exercise will provide a strong foundation for successful management of your diabetes throughout your life.
Diabetes And Insulin:
Our lifeline! Insulin lowers blood sugar by allowing it to leave the bloodstream and enter cells (Insulin is essentially the “key” that unlocks the door). Everyone with type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day.
Insulin is usually injected under the skin. In some cases, a pump delivers the insulin all the time. Insulin does not come in pill form.
Insulin types differ in how fast they start to work and how long they last. Your health care provider will choose the best type of insulin for you and will tell you at what time of day to use it. More than one type of insulin may be mixed together in an injection to get the best blood glucose control. You may need as little as one insulin shot a day to as many as four of five depending on your eating schedule, but as anyone living with diabetes knows, insulin is essential for the management of this disease.
Your health care provider or diabetes nurse educator will teach you how to give insulin injections. At first, a child’s injections may be given by a parent or other adult. By age 14, most children can give their own injections.
Type 1 Diabetics need to know how to adjust the amount of insulin they are taking:
- When they exercise
- When they are sick
- When they will be eating more or less food and calories
- When they are traveling
- Your doctor. You may see your regular doctor for diabetes care or someone who has special training in caring for people with diabetes. A doctor with special training in diabetes is called an endocrinologist. You’ll talk with your doctor about what kind of medicines you need and how much you should take. You’ll also agree on a target blood glucose range and blood pressure and cholesterol targets. Your doctor will do tests to be sure your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol are staying on track and you’re staying healthy. Ask your doctor if you should take aspirin every day to help prevent heart disease.
- Your diabetes educator. A diabetes educator may be a nurse, a dietitian, or another kind of health care worker, like The Organic Diabetic ;-). Diabetes educators teach you about meal planning, diabetes medicines, physical activity, how to check your blood glucose, and how to fit diabetes care into your everyday life. Be sure to ask questions if you don’t understand something!
- Your family and friends. Taking care of your diabetes is a daily job 24/7 365, it does not stop. You may need help or support from your family or friends. You may want to bring a family member or close friend with you when you visit your doctor or diabetes educator. Taking good care of your diabetes can be a family affair…my family is my biggest diabetes support group.
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