November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. Over 30 million people in America have diabetes and more than 84 million have pre-diabetes–many of which are undiagnosed. There are some steps you can take to make sure that you manage your diabetes well. Ali Spencer, RD, LDS Hospital Registered Dietitian, specializing in outpatient nutritional counseling for health, wellness, and weight loss explains what those steps are.
1. Awareness: Know your numbers! There are numbers, like your hemoglobin A1c, that describe what your blood sugars over a long period of time and there are daily blood sugars that describe how your body reacts to food, medication, and other factors. Your healthcare provider has likely recommended that you test your blood sugars on a regular basis. Additionally, know the signs of a high blood sugar: extreme thirst, dry, itchy skin, frequent urination, blurry vision, extreme hunger, and fatigue. If you are experiencing these symptoms test your blood sugar!
2. Nutrition: Eat regularly throughout the day and follow a balanced diet. Foods with carbohydrates will increase your blood sugars, but this doesn’t mean you should avoid them. Carbohydrates are an essential part of the diet and give us energy. If you have diabetes, you’ll want to balance your carbohydrates with protein and non-starchy vegetables. Watch your portion sizes of these foods and reduce simple sugars in your diet.
3. Physical Activity: Physical activity is an important part of diabetes management. Physical activity helps to lower blood sugars. Aim for 30 minutes, 5 or more days a week as a minimum. If you’re not there yet, whatever you can do now is still good. Walking, swimming, biking, and dancing are good places to start. Make exercise part of your routine, find someone to go with, take your dog, or listen to music to make it more enjoyable.
4. Medication: many people with diabetes will have medication prescribed by their doctor. There are oral medications (pills) and medications you inject (i.e. insulin). Make sure you remember to take it every day and as prescribed. Let your healthcare professional know if you have difficulty remembering to take your medication or don’t know how you should be taking it.
For more information visit www.LDSHospital.org/healthyliving
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