Adapting to a life with diabetes takes a lot of energy. It is quite overwhelming to balance your control of blood sugar levels with other physical, psychological, and social priorities. The word "control" smacks of full-time effort. However, you can always adapt to diabetes without completely disrupting your life.
Life With Diabetes
It is quite normal for you to go through emotional ups and downs after being diagnosed. Negative emotions such as grief, disbelief, guilt, fear, and anger are common experiences. People dealing with such emotions start avoiding appointments with doctors because they can’t cope with the diagnosis. They even tend to avoid checking glucose levels due to anxiety. They often get irritated and start blaming the situation leading to adverse effects on your health. However, things can go well if you talk to your health professional and share how you feel, both physically and emotionally.
Living with diabetes is a challenging task, a task that the person might have no choice but to get on board. One of the biggest obstacles that a person might have to face would be the daily lifestyle changes as a result of this condition. Everything from eating habits to sleeping patterns and even the amount of exercise one is allowed to do, all of these would need some time to figure out.
Here are a few pointers for better lifestyle management for living with diabetes:
1. Understanding blood sugar
- High blood sugars – Anything above 170-180 mg/dL would be considered high blood sugar or hyperglycemia. The right insulin dose would need to be administered to lower this level
- Low blood sugar – Often deemed more dangerous than hyperglycemia, low sugar levels are below 70mg/dL in children and adults. Since the body is deprived of adequate sugar levels, the organs might get compromised.
- Monitoring blood sugar – The criteria to monitor these levels would be – pre-breakfast, post-breakfast, pre-lunch, post-lunch, pre-dinner, post-dinner, and 3 am. Random levels at different times of the day can also be tested. Use CGM devices once in 6 months to have a 14-day graphical representation of your sugar levels.
2. Diet and exercise for Diabetes management
- Carbs and Fiber – Watching your diet is an important aspect of the effective management of diabetes. Reduce the intake of carbs as they instantly spike up the sugar levels. More fibers and protein in the diet will help keep the sugar levels at bay as they are low GIycemic index.
- Understanding food and GI – Glycemic indices of certain foods will give you an idea of how much and how fast your blood sugar levels would spike after the consumption of the food. Stay away from maida, sweetened drinks, baked goods, starchy food, etc.
- Alcohol and diabetes – Certain types of alcohol might cause an increase in the blood sugars – beers, mixed drinks, mimosas, fruit juices, etc would result in unwanted and high spikes. However, since alcohol has an effect on the liver, drinking would lead to the liver not producing any glucose which often results in hypoglycemia after a couple of hours. Check your blood sugars before and after drinking.
3. Better Living
- Pregnancy – Pregnancy in diabetes can be a challenging task. Make sure that you are on top of all your appointments and are taking in the right amount of nutrition. Maintain your blood sugars in the normal range
- Sick days – Sick day management protocols can be decided upon by the doctors. On days when you are sick, your sugars might run on the higher side. Take care of that by administering a correction dose as and when needed.
- Skin care – At times, skincare and management of skin can get tough. Diabetes can cause hormonal changes that can lead to acne or other skin and hair issues. Proper nutrition, diet, sleep, and minimal stress would help. Visit your dermatologist as and when needed.
- Foot care – Another very important aspect of diabetes care would be to take care of your feet. A higher prevalence of corns, blisters, cracks, and injuries on the feet is common during diabetes. Prevent any long-term complications by taking regular care.
4. Preventing Complications
- Effect on the body – This condition can take a massive toll on the different organs of the body like the heart, kidneys, lungs, liver, feet, etc. It is vital to educate yourself about the effects of diabetes and how you can prevent these complications.
- Avoid complications – Do this by regularly visiting your endocrinologist and keeping the HbA1c levels in the normal range. Also, get your eyes and feet checked once every year. Get your regular blood tests done too.
What you can do?
The first thing you need to do is take care of your emotional well-being. At the same time, you can't overlook the ongoing process of adaptation So, here's a list of what you can do to adapt to a life with diabetes.
- Keep yourself Informed : The first and most necessary step to managing lifestyle is understanding the basics of diabetes. So, if you have been diagnosed with diabetes, reach out to your doctor or health coach for information, advice and support.
- Do Not Hesitate to Ask Questions : Receiving all new information and learning skills to live diabetes can be pretty overwhelming. Therefore, it's better to make a list of all concerns and questions to understand diabetes better. Also, it's okay if you miss out on the information that the doctor has already shared with you. Do not hesitate to ask that again. Just make sure you don't make any move that could affect your health adversely.
- Talk to your Peers : Health experts are not the only people who can learn from. You can also talk to people who have or still are undergoing the same experience as you are now. They could provide you with practical knowledge. Moreover, knowing that others are facing the same challenges as you could provide you with mental support. You can also join an online community to get peer support.
- Involve your Friends and Family : You might feel alone but, you don't have to suffer it all alone. Talk to your pals and family about how you feel. They can also gather information for your well-being to help you out. They can be considerate in other ways too. They can assist you in getting more physically active and making healthy food choices. They can also keep a regular check on your glucose levels and take necessary action.
- Make a Plan : Creating a plan for your physical and emotional health is one of the most vital parts of adjusting to a diabetic lifestyle.
Here are a few Tips to get started
- Create a calendar of regular appointments with your doctor to talk about your health.
- Gather information on healthy lifestyle, medicines, insulin, supportive communities, and motivational/informational events.
- Join Diabetes related communities and connect with individuals going through similar situations as yourself.
- Ask your health coach for a healthy yet enjoyable diet plan
- Plan your regular exercises.
Remember, you are not alone. It takes time to adapt and adjust to to a life with Diabetes and all its related emotions and feelings. Reach out to your diabetes health team of your doctor, personal health coach/nutritionist and mental wellness expert for information, advice and support to guide you through your journey to reverse Diabetes.
Can you live a normal life with diabetes?
While diabetes can cause complications, there is no reason to not be able to live a normal life with diabetes. You may have to make a few changes to your routine like incorporating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, changing your sleeping habits to make them healthier, if needed, etc. Apart from these, checking blood sugars twice a day needs to be added to the routine. Lead a normal life and thrive, even with diabetes.