1. Early diagnosing of diabetes is essential. The sooner that elevated blood sugar levels are detected and returned back to normal through diet and medication, the better! I have seen far too many individuals either ignore the signs, are unaware of signs or simply did not take their diagnosis seriously, who are now experiencing complications from prolonged elevated blood sugars. If you are experiencing sudden weight loss, hunger, blurred visions, fatigue, excessive thirst or frequent urination, please consult with your physician as soon as possible to get tested! A simple blood test can go a long way in preventing complications and getting you back to feeling normal again.
2. Diabetes is a condition that must not be underestimated. There is no such thing as “good diabetes” or “a touch of diabetes” or “mild diabetes”. Research shows that when you are diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, you already have lost 50% of your beta cell mass. Beta Cells are the cells in your pancreas that produce insulin, insulin is the hormone that moves sugar from your blood to your cells. Without insulin, the sugar cannot move to where it needs to go and we end up with high blood sugar. Developing a healthy lifestyle, adjusting medications and monitoring your blood sugar are key elements in managing your diabetes and keeping your cells healthy. Work with your primary care provider, dietitian or diabetes educator to find a balance that works best for you. Remember you’re in the driver’s seat of your diabetes, and you get to choose how to manage it.
3. We all like a little bit of sugar in our lives, some more than others. Know that sugar did not cause your diabetes. All those candies and cola’s growing up did not predispose you to develop your diabetes, so stop yelling at your mom. The development of Type 2 Diabetes is a combination of modifiable and unmodifiable risk factors. Things you can’t change that increase your risk for developing diabetes are your age, your genetics, and your ethnicity. Things you can change that increase your risk of developing diabetes is being sedentary, eating an unhealthy diet and being overweight. You can modify your lifestyle to help reduce your risk of developing diabetes, but unfortunately, we can’t turn back time or change your genetics!
4. Developing a realistic goal to start moving is non-negotiable when it comes to the management of your diabetes. This doesn’t mean you have to join the gym or run a marathon, but simply moving more and spending less time sitting is key. It is recommended adults get at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week, with 2 days of strength training (body weight, resistance band or weights). It is also recommended to go no longer than 2 days in a row without being active! Choose a cost-effective activity that suits your lifestyle and that ultimately, you will enjoy and keep doing.
5. I follow a philosophy of all foods fit. This means that when you come see me you don’t have to talk to the food police and get told that you’re not allowed to eat x, y, and z. Honestly, you can eat anything, but just not everything. I work with clients to find the best and more healthful balance for them. This means those favourite foods of yours get to stay in your food space, they just may be paired with something or in a smaller portion size. It’s true that people living with diabetes are allowed to eat sugar! So many people focus on every gram of sugar, but we want to pay attention to the carbohydrate in the food as well and ensure that we are not putting too much carbohydrate in our body at once as this makes it difficult for the body to produce enough insulin to bring that blood sugar to a safe level. Remember, sugar is a carbohydrate and carbohydrate break down into sugar during digestion which raises the blood sugar. The only thing I strongly recommend clients eliminate from their diet or reduce to the absolute smallest amount possible is sugar-sweetened beverages, especially your beloved morning orange juice.
No one diet, one exercise plan or one medication fits all! Work with your primary care provider, dietitian or diabetes educator to find a plan that fits best with your lifestyle. In the end, there are four equally important areas – exercise, nutrition, medication, and blood glucose monitoring – that you need to master in order to manage your diabetes to better health, and I’m here to help with those.