Lifestyle tips for living with type 2 diabetes
One of the biggest responsibilities of those living with type 2 diabetes is to manage their lifestyle and look after their health. This makes it easier to handle the diabetes to prevent, if not arrest the complications of diabetes.
Starting with conscious self-care, which I have developed into a habit, I have learned to be responsible for my own health with my family’s and friends’ support. After all, encouragement motivates, and when we’re motivated there is joy in doing things.
So what does my self-care regimen include? Put simply, everything I do to keep myself fit, ensure that I am healthy physically and mentally so I can keep illness at bay. It also means being alert to and dealing with any health issues or chronic conditions effectively. By doing this, I experience less pain, fatigue and live a good quality life that is active and happy.
Since type 2 diabetes is a long term condition, it is important to stay in touch with your doctor so you can talk about anything that concerns you. I have a notebook where I note down important things along with the date so I can report it. I noticed that when I am proactive, my doctors’ visits are more satisfactory. She performs a thorough check – including my eyes, feet shoulders, neck, face, temples – and all those things that will tell her how well I am doing.
The following are on my priority list
Once a year, I’ve been advised to get an HbA1c test so we know how well I am managing my blood sugar levels. This is a simple test where blood is drawn. No fasting required, so one can walk in any time to get it done. This test checks the average blood glucose levels for the past three months.
When I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I got all worked up about going on a stringent diet. And did. I went on a no-rice, no wheat diet and only ate sprouts, salads, vegetables and fruits. I did it for two months. It wasn’t hard. But my doc, during my third visit, advised me not to have a high protein diet and avoid starch and carbs as it may trigger long term problems. She specifically advised me to eat a healthy diet that is high in fiber, fruit and veg and low in fat, salt and sugar. Something any normal person should do to stay healthy. Being a South Indian vegetarian is an advantage for me as our menus are very supportive! Of course, it matters what we eat especially if on medication. A dietician can help.
Regular physical activity
This is perhaps the foundation of diabetic health as it helps in many ways. There is no compromise with regular exercise to keep that blood sugar level in check. I walk briskly for one hour every day, besides making sure I am active throughout the day. I take the stairs and walk everywhere.
I don’t smoke but those with diabetes are better off kicking the butt, as smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, a heart attack or stroke are high if they smoke. Then there is lung health – how can life go on when you cannot breathe, eh? So if you smoke, consider getting support to give it up. You’ll be glad you did.
Go easy on the alcohol
Cutting down on alcohol intake makes sense. Based on how much you drink, alcohol is known to raise or lower blood glucose levels, resulting in a high – hyperglycaemia or a real low – hypoglycaemia. Neither is good. For those on insulin treatment, it is harder to monitor blood glucose. So, for those that cannot avoid alcohol, check with the doctor about acceptable limits. Never ever drink on an empty stomach.
Foot problems are a common side-effect of diabetes. It is important to be alert to infections, cuts and bruises and treat them immediately. Diabetes is known to interfere with the blood circulation to your feet, and since nerve damage is also likely, being conscious about foot care is critical. This means nail care, hygiene, wearing shoes that fit well and checking the feet for anything unusual.
For those with type 2 diabetes, an annual eye check for retinopathy is part of the self-care regimen. Retinopathy is caused by prolonged high blood sugar levels and if ignored, can lead to blindness.
After I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, one of the things that kept me going was talking to others and comparing notes. Those going through similar situations can be a good source of information and when you don’t feel alone, everything looks much brighter.
Make sure you keep your doctors’ appointments and do not miss follow up visits. And for women with diabetes who are planning a baby, do discuss your care with your doctor so you can take steps to keep your blood sugar under control.
Diabetes need not be depressing. I am taking care of myself and intend to show diabetes who’s boss.
Day 12 of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.
Apologies for posting late. Life intervened!
L for Lifestyle tips for Living with type 2 diabetes.