Take Charge of Your Health with Diabetes Prevention

posted by Darlene DeWitt and Holly Berends on Thursday, November 2, 2023

Diabetes Awareness Month happens every November. This year’s theme is “Take Charge of Tomorrow: Preventing Diabetes Health Problems.” Many patients with diabetes worry about complications. Often, this is because they have had a family member or friend with diabetes who did have problems and that’s what they remember. When it’s not managed, diabetes can damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart. But the good news is—there are a lot of things you can do to control diabetes and reduce your risk of complications.

  • Manage Your A1C, blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels - Having regular checkups with your provider as well as annual labs will help you see where your numbers are. Then you will notice any change in those numbers that may signal a need to adjust medications or make lifestyle changes to keep you in good health.
  • Take your medicines on time, even if you feel healthy - Everyone with diabetes should know what medicines they are taking, what they are for and have a copy of their medication list in their wallet.  Taking these medications every day is part of what keeps blood sugars in good range.  Medications can be individualized based on other health conditions you are managing. If you have any concerns about your medication, discuss them with your provider or pharmacist.
  • Make lifestyle changes to slowly build healthy habits - Physical activity and healthy eating are definitely important parts of managing diabetes. Physical activity is one of the most effective ways to lower your blood sugar. Being active on a regular basis is important to help keep your blood sugar in range. Regular exercise also provides additional benefits for heart health such as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Physical activity can include walking, biking, swimming, strength training, balance exercises, yoga, and even housework.

    Oftentimes, patients feel like they need to avoid carbohydrate foods and are confused about how to eat in general. Eating well to manage diabetes includes eating regular meals, including nutrient-dense carbohydrate foods (like fruit, beans, whole grain breads, brown rice and low-fat yogurt or milk) and limiting added sugars. Focus on portions of food on your plate, and increasing vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

Plate of Food

  • Take care of your mental health - Patients with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from depression.  You may also feel “burnt out” or overwhelmed from managing diabetes every day. Feeling stressed or upset can be a normal part of life at times, but if you feel like you can’t get yourself out of it, it is time to talk to someone about it.

    Sleep can be underrated, but an important part of managing your health and your diabetes. If you have diabetes and snore, the conditions can be related and it would be important to address concerns for poor quality of sleep with your provider.

  • Work closely with your primary care provider - Your provider is your partner and one of your support team members to help manage diabetes.  Spencer Hospital Diabetes Education program is also part of your support team.  Our educators have decades of experience in diabetes management.  Even if you have had education in the past, we encourage our patients to come in annually for education.

Join us for a special Diabetes Support Group meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 7 at 3 PM in the Oak Conference Room at Spencer Hospital. This group is for anyone who has diabetes, pre-diabetes or a loved one with the disease. Come to this session to learn more about healthy food choices during the holidays and exercises you can do during the winter months. To register, click here: Diabetes Support Group Registration

To schedule an appointment to meet with the diabetes education team, call your provider to get a referral for Diabetes Education.

If you are concerned about your possible risk for developing diabetes, you can take an online risk test at www.Diabetes.org/diabetes-risk-test.

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About The Author

Darlene DeWitt and Holly Berends

Spencer Hospital registered dietitian Darlene DeWitt and diabetes nurse educator Holly Berends team up to share important information and tips on diabetes awareness and prevention.