By: Guest Author
Published: November 14, 2022
Written by Sarah Kaminski-Guest Contributor
According to the CDC, more than 130 million adults live with diabetes (or prediabetes) in the US alone. So, whether you’ve been recently diagnosed or have been dealing with this illness for a while, it’s safe to say you’re not alone.
But here’s the thing: living with diabetes can be challenging — even for those who have been dealing with it for years. In addition to having to learn about complex medical concepts, successfully managing diabetes also requires significant lifestyle changes.
Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean you can’t develop a routine that will allow you to maintain a high quality of life. It just means you’ll have to work harder at it than others.
So, if you’re looking for ways to feel good in your skin while living with diabetes, these are the main areas of your well-being you need to focus on.
Understand Your Diagnosis
An essential part of living with diabetes is understanding the illness.
According to Healthline, the condition is a “metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar.” When left untreated, diabetes can cause nerve, eye, or kidney damage. Its symptoms include increased hunger, thirst, weight loss, extreme fatigue, blurry vision, and recurring infections.
Statistical data shows that most people (between 90% and 95%) have Type 2 diabetes, which is generally caused by lifestyle and genetic factors. Unfortunately, the disease cannot be cured or reversed. However, it can be successfully managed by following the steps below.
Reframe Your Relationship with Food
The most impactful thing you can do if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes is to start eating well.
Now, for most people, this sounds either tedious or impossible. Especially if you have a sweet tooth, follow a predominantly Western diet, or (like so many others) don’t have the time to make home-cooked meals all the time. But the truth is, eating well to manage your diabetes doesn’t have to mean a complete overhaul of your eating habits. Instead, it just means educating yourself about the types of choices you should be making and creating systems that make those choices easy, attractive, and satisfying.
For example, one of the best hacks you can employ is to get a set of digital scales or measuring cups and measure your food intake. This won’t just make it easier to calculate your macronutrients. But it will also aid with portion control, ensuring that you’re getting all the energy you need.
Or, if your main obstacle to eating better is that you crave sweets, learn about the types of snacks you can eat when dealing with diabetes. Great options include granola, berries, or a PB & banana sandwich. Always having these on hand, you can make reaching for the healthy option become second nature and not an exercise in willpower at the local 7-Eleven.
Turn Exercise into a Core Part of Your Routine
As you work towards developing a routine for living with diabetes, start incorporating more exercise into your life.
The reason working out is so essential for managing diabetes is the fact that physical activity causes your muscles to use glucose. This helps your body manage insulin, lower blood sugar levels, and improve overall health.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should go from couch to 5k overnight. Instead, it means looking at the recommended activity levels for your age and trying to get more movement in throughout the day.
And remember, although most people’s idea of working out includes going for a jog or to the gym, this doesn’t have to be your way of being active. Instead, choose to participate in activities that spark joy — whether that’s yoga, dance, hiking, or simply some gardening.
Make Your Medications Easy to Remember
If you’ve been recently diagnosed with diabetes, you’ve likely been put on insulin or other medication to lower your blood sugar. Now, the best way to ensure you’re getting the benefits of these medicines is to take them regularly and correctly.
The easiest way to ensure this is to use readily-available tools as reminders. For instance, you can set up a phone or digital watch alarm to go off every time you need to take your medicines. And, if you’re managing more than one type of medication (for example, high cholesterol, blood pressure medication, or blood thinners), you can use software features like Apple’s medication reminders to ensure you’re taking the required dose at the right time.
Another thing you should remember about taking medicine to manage your diabetes is that insulin needs special care when stored. As it’s sensitive to extreme temperature shifts (and won’t be effective past its expiration date), consult your doctor or pharmacist regarding the best ways to store it.
Finally, as you explore strategies that will allow you to make living with diabetes less of a burden, don’t forget that having a support system is half the work.
Whether that support system includes medical professionals, a community of people in the same situation as you, or your friends and family isn’t as important. What matters is that you have someone to turn to for support, advice, and guidance, and someone who will have your back when the going gets tough.
While it may affect a large number of people, diabetes can still be a daunting diagnosis to receive. Because its treatment requires significant lifestyle changes, it’s completely natural that all that change seems overwhelming.
However, as with any other goal, improving your overall health and living with diabetes can be as simple as ensuring that you make small steps in the right direction. Is it possible that you’ll make mistakes along the way? Absolutely. But know that every improvement to your overall well-being will make a tremendous impact, so don’t become discouraged. Instead, look at it as a motivator to live a healthy and happy life, despite the obstacles life throws your way.
Sarah is a life enjoyer, positivity seeker, and a curiosity enthusiast. She is passionate about an eco-friendly lifestyle and adores her cats. She is an avid reader who loves to travel when time allows.
The views expressed herein this article, written by a guest contributor, do not necessarily represent those of the Red Hot Mamas organization. The content is for informational purposes and should not substitute the advice of your doctor.