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November is Diabetes Month!

November marks National Diabetes Month.
Diabetes is a tough diagnosis. Whether someone learns of their disease as a child or whether symptoms begin later in life it is a diagnosis that will require rapid changes in the patient and often the entire extended family. And it is an everyday all day with no holidays process to learn to live with the diagnosis. Everyone knows that it is difficult to be disciplined all the time.

The risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes:

  • Are 45 or older
  • Are Black, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander
  • Have a parent, brother or sister with diabetes
  • Are overweight
  • Are physically inactive
  • Have high blood pressure or take medicine for high blood pressure
  • Have low HDL cholesterol and/or high triglycerides
  • Had diabetes during pregnancy
  • Have been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 is generally associated with children, but health providers now know that the onset of Type 1 Diabetes can begin at any point in a lifetime. Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of the disease diagnosed in adults over the age of 45.
In the beginning of treatment Type 1 Diabetes is often mistaken for Type 2. Since the treatment is different for each Type, patients will not improve with treatment. When treatment fails, patients are often sent for additional testing with an Endocrinologist who will order some additional testing to determine whether the patient actually has Type 1.
While there is nothing that can stop the onset of Type 1 Diabetes, there are many things that can help reduce your risks for Type 2. And the very things that help you reduce your risks are the same things that can help you manage the disease should you have it.
The first step is to manage what and how much you are eating. There is strong consensus in the research the most important steps are to eat fresh or frozen foods. Limit or eliminate your consumption of foods that are processed. Processed foods are the ones that you pop in a microwave and have an instantly prepared meal. Unfortunately, while these foods are convenient, they are full of chemicals, fats, salts and yes, sugars that are specifically combined to make you want to eat more and more of them. Dump the sodas (even the diet ones) and rediscover water! Eat veggies that are fresh or frozen and low in starch. (Peas, corn, limas and potatoes are examples of starchy veggies to avoid). Dump the frying pan and dig out the steamer and the broiler.
Once you have a pantry of foods to work with, it is time to reteach portions. Here are some general guidelines. A 3 oz portion of meat is the size of a deck of cards. That is a normal serving. 11/2 oz of cheese are the size of three dice. 1 cup of cooked veggies is the size of a baseball. 1 serving of hummus is 2 tablespoons or the size of a golf ball. Dinner plates have grown from the standard 9 inch plate of the 70s to today’s 13 inch plate. To make you feel more satisfied, use your salad plates as your normal meal plate. Load it with a baseball sized serving of salad, fresh steamed veggies and a deck of cards size protein to start reteaching yourself what a meal is supposed to look like.
The second part of reducing your risk or managing your diagnosis is movement. Start small with something you enjoy. A walk around your house – inside or outside – is a great start. Add a few more steps each day until you are walking at a brisk pace for at least 20 minutes. Park your car at the far end of the parking lot at the store or at work so that you add those steps daily. Use the stairs instead of elevators. Walking has the side benefit of reducing stress levels. Enjoy the “me” time every day while you walk. If it helps to take a book on tape with you, you can walk through a chapter or two each day. But with Diabetes, movement every day is as important as the fuel you put in your body.
And most importantly, you should take advantage of the preventive health care benefits that are covered by your health insurance. To understand those benefits, we can help!