Adopting Effective Behaviours for Diabetes - Sugar.Fit
Self-Care & Motivation

Behaviours That Will Help With Diabetes

Prediabetes is when your blood sugar is high but not high enough to be clinically diagnosed as diabetes. Diabetes is when you have constant high blood sugar. In both cases, if these conditions are diagnosed in time and treated, they can be controlled and even reversed. Have you ever wondered why fasting and postprandial blood glucose tests never help you to control it? That is because you don’t take the tests frequently, and it is difficult to get the tests every time you change your routine or diet.

Continuous Glucose Monitoring, or CGM, focuses on this area. You can check your blood sugar level anytime you want and improve your routine to keep diabetes in control. CGM can be an effective tool to make behavior modifications such that you can keep track of the difference in your blood sugar even with the smallest of a change that you make to your lifestyle.

What is a CGM?

An individual can’t take the finger prick tests too frequently. Since the tests are not frequent, we fail to watch our lifestyle and diet most times. In this case, a real-time continuous glucose monitor can be of help. A continuous glucose monitor is a wearable device for diabetic patients. As the name suggests, it helps you to monitor your blood sugar levels all the time - day and night.

The sensor of the CGM device is inserted inside your skin, and it is connected to a wireless monitor, which displays the readings of the sensor. The sensor detects your blood glucose values from the interstitial fluid in your cells and transmits these values to the monitor. The CGM device checks your blood glucose levels every few minutes and displays them.

Why CGM?

With a CGM, you can keep a tab on your blood glucose levels all the time. It is not just useful to check your sugar levels, but you can also understand your body better. You can check what effect every meal and even workout has on your blood sugars. This ability to see the constant changes in blood glucose levels has the potential for immediate feedback. This can help you to further make changes in your eating habits and to your lifestyle.

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Behavioural Aspects & Actions impacting Diabetes Management & Reversal

  1. Motivation - Everybody needs some motivation to make long-term changes to their lifestyle and diet habits. Find your motivation and make sure you are reminded of it every now and then.
  2. Accountability - You need someone to push you to get over the inner inertia in order to achieve your goals. Make yourself accountable for your own or your family’s (parents, partner, children) happiness and wellbeing. You make sure you are making efforts for lifestyle changes when you are accountable to someone.
  3. Track your activities and blood sugar levels - Whenever you make any changes to your diet or to your lifestyle, keep track of resulting blood sugar levels. This record can help you to decide what kind of lifestyle and diet pattern works best for you.
  4. Set SMART Goals - The goals you set for yourself must be SMART, i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Divide your goals into two sections - short term and long term. Make sure that the short-term goals are small and achievable. When you can achieve them, it will motivate you to achieve the long-term ones as well.

Behavioural changes to improve your Blood Glucose Levels

Here are some behavioral actions to adopt that contribute to improving your blood glucose levels and help in reversing Prediabetes or Diabetes as well.

  1. Pedometer - Always start small. One step at a time. To make workouts a part of your routine, make sure you start with something simple and make that a habit first. A pedometer can be a motivation for the number of steps you walk each day.
  2. Food Journal - In order to bring your blood sugar levels down to normal, you need to know how your body reacts to every meal you consume. Maintain a food journal to keep track of the changes you make to your diet.
  3. Record your Blood Sugar Levels - Along with the food journal, make sure you keep track of your blood sugar levels. This will help you understand your body better, and you can make changes to your diet suitably.
  4. Eat Mindfully - Mindful eating is knowing what you eat, in a nutshell. There are quite some restrictions for people suffering from type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes which makes people scared of eating. Instead, understand what you eat and have a healthy relationship with food.

What are some behavioral risk factors?

Diabetes, both type 1 and type 2 are now increasingly common among people of all ages. The prevalence of this condition is high all over the globe and this is why it is concerning as many younger kids are also facing hospitalization owing to this condition. However, type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. This is because the nature of the condition is primarily auto-immune or genetic. These factors are not under human control and no behaviors can stop the onset of the condition. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented if certain behavioral aspects are kept in mind and controlled.

  1. Physical exercise – exercise needs to be a very important part of the daily life of a person with diabetes. This is because exercise can help improve insulin sensitivity and burn the extra fat in the body. The reduction in weight and lower resistance to insulin can prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes and can also help to effectively manage the symptoms of T1D and T2D. 
  2. Daily routine – A set routine can set the body clock in a certain way. For example, if the body and the brain are used to particular tasks at a set time, you can be better prepared to execute those tasks and be more efficient. This also works for sleeping and eating. Taking insulin at a particular time and eating an almost similar number of carbs each day can habituate the body and make it accustomed to the routine.
  3. Eating – Unhealthy eating and diet is the biggest risk factor for the onset of type 2 diabetes. Since this type is primarily caused due to lifestyle factors, excessive consumption of junk food can lead to lower immunity, an increase in cholesterol and blood pressure, and also can result in poor sensitivity to insulin thus causing diabetes. 
  4. Habits and addictions – Increased smoking and consumption of alcohol have also been linked to the early onset of diabetes. In both, males and females, frequent indulgence in smoking and alcoholic beverages results in a compromised function in several body parts like the liver and lungs. An increase in bad cholesterol levels is also observed in people who smoke excessively.
  5. Stress management – Habits that do not alleviate stress and lack of coping skills can increase the level of cortisol (stress hormone) in the brain. Higher stress hormones can lead to mental energy being drained. Poor coping mechanisms like the inability to get out of bed, eating junk food, smoking, etc, can give rise to chronic conditions.
  6. Self-care – Engage in self-care activities and habits that you find fulfilling and enjoyable.

Bottom Line

Diabetes is one of the most common disorders today. The prevalence of diabetes in India is 8.9% which means almost 77 million Indians suffer from diabetes, according to the Indian Diabetes Federation. Most people take regular medications to regulate their blood sugar levels, but we have turned a blind eye to the fact that Diabetes is a lifestyle disorder. A holistic approach that focuses on a lifestyle and diet change can help you control and reverse the condition in some cases.

Read more about reversal of diabetes

FAQs

Can diabetes cause mood swings and anger? 

It is commonly known that extremely high or low blood sugars can cause certain changes in the brain and can lead to mood swings. High blood sugars are most likely to be accompanied by irritability or even sadness and dejection. Lows, on the other hand, are linked to anxiety, shaking, nervousness, etc. Mood disturbances are common during sugar fluctuations. In case you are unable to understand why you are feeling angry or anxious, checking your blood sugars may help you understand if they are the cause. 

Can diabetes affect your mind? 

Poorly controlled diabetes can have several negative effects. There can be severe damage to the eyes, feet, and hands, and can also damage the nerves and blood vessels. Often, uncontrolled diabetes and sugar levels can lead to problems with memory, cognition, moods, hormonal changes, etc. Very rarely, extreme highs can also lead to delirium. In case the brain is completely deprived of sugar during a hypoglycemic episode, one can also slip into a comatose state. Anxiety and depression are also commonly associated with diabetes. Controlling blood sugar levels is key to managing all of these adverse effects that can play havoc in the life of a person with diabetes.

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