Living with Diabetes

Although diabetes is known as a chronic, lifelong disease, you don’t have to let it control your life. It can be very serious if it is left untreated, but once you’ve been diagnosed your doctor and medical team will give you all of the tools you need in order to control your diabetes.

First Days

The diagnosis of diabetes can be a tough one for anyone to deal with. Because it’s a condition that is with you for your entire life, many people feel that their lives will not be as fulfilling or as fun and that they will have to let their diabetes control their lives. That’s not true – you should control your diabetes, not let your diabetes control you. It’s a well-worn cliché, but it’s a good one!

Control

Depending on the type of your diabetes, you’ll probably be told to lose some weight and change your diet. Diet is a major part of controlling your glucose levels and most doctors recommend a diet that is rich in carbohydrate and protein but that is low in fat. Excess fat and salt are terrible for diabetics and they should be avoided where possible – so use low sodium salt and try to cook food from scratch where possible.

You’ll need to monitor your blood glucose levels daily and depending on the severity of your diabetes you’ll have to check them once in the morning and once at night. Most monitoring systems involve a small pin-prick device that you push onto your thumb to cause blood to come to the surface. You then dip a test strip in the blood and put the test strip into the monitor. Your blood glucose values will then determine the amount of insulin you need to take in.

Your insulin control will again depend on how severe your diabetes is and whether you have type I or type II diabetes. Insulin is used for a number of complicated reasons, but regular insulin injections and regular meals work together to keep your blood sugar steady and stable.

You may be given medication instead of insulin depending on your individual needs. There are a variety of medications that are used to control diabetes and they control diabetes in a number of ways – some medications will change the way your body responds to carbohydrates whilst others work to prohibit insulin production from the liver. The medication you have will depend on your personal needs.

Healthy Living with Diabetes

Having diabetes puts you at risk of a number of other medical problems, including heart disease, strokes, foot ulcers, nerve damage, blindness and kidney damage, so it’s important that you keep it under control. To do this, you should follow the healthy living tips below:

  • Maintain a steady weight. Increasing your weight and decreasing your weight numerous times can really put a strain on your body that is entirely unnecessary. Instead, stay at one weight that is ideal for you – speak to your doctor for more information on your ideal weight.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Make sure that your diet is low in fat, salt and sugar. That does not mean that you cannot eat cakes or cookies ever again, but you need to learn to eat in moderation.
  • Get active for at least half an hour a day. This helps to maintain your general health but it also helps your body to break down glucose more effectively.
  • Check your feet every day. Nerve damage associated with diabetes usually affects the feet before it affects anywhere else.

Coping

If you find that having diabetes is particularly difficult or you feel that you’re not coping with the diagnosis particularly well, speak to your doctor. They could refer you onto a support group or a counselor that could help you to come to terms with your diabetes.