Diabetes is a much-feared condition, chronic and seemingly difficult to manage. People who find that they have diabetes are counselled to make a complete overhaul of their lifestyles, that includes constant monitoring and taking medication. While doctors and caregivers help and support but ultimately it is the person living with diabetes who can live better by staying on course.
I know this well because my parents have diabetes. Their determination in managing their condition, leading completely active lives that are free of complications is exemplary.
Diabetes Statistics and Trends
A study by WHO1 found “About 422 million people worldwide have diabetes. The majority living in low-and middle-income countries, and 1.6 million deaths are directly attributed to diabetes each year. Both the number of cases and the prevalence of diabetes have been steadily increasing over the past few decades.”
We see similar trends in India. According to the 2019 National Diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy Survey report released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the prevalence was found to be 11.8% in people over the age of 50. Diabetes can lead to risk of complications due to infection, kidney failure, leg amputation, vision loss, nerve damage and increased risk of heart attacks.
Self and Lifestyle Management is the Key
In the absence of any specific cure for diabetes, its treatment often requires daily decisions and behaviours related to diet, exercise, testing and medication. Hence, self and lifestyle management become key. Lifestyle management is a fundamental aspect in diabetes care and includes self-management education, self-management support and lifestyle modification2
A patient has to particularly focus on getting adequate physical activity, eating a healthy nutritious diet, checking glucose levels and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol. The contribution of the patient to managing this condition is greater because only the patient knows what he feels, what they willing and able to do in terms of their food habits and fitness.
It goes without saying that daily self-management behaviours are inconvenient and feel burdensome. But, it is important for people living with diabetes to remind themselves about the long terms value and benefits of controlling sugar levels. It’s good to think about a time when the sugar level was high and how it led to an unpleasant experience. Avoiding a recurrence of that could spur adherence to a stricter regime. Incentivizing oneself with a small reward for controlling blood sugar levels can also help motivate those with diabetes to stay the course.
My parents are acutely aware of the ill-effects of this condition and take care to be disciplined. They exercise regularly. They motivate each other to eat healthy and are partners in that aspect of life as well.
It is important to seek professional help and guidance, but people living with diabetes are ultimately responsible for their health.
A Few Things to Remember
Here are simple checks to have in place for everyone living with diabetes –
- Formulate and follow a healthy eating and activity plan
- Monitor and record blood sugar regularly
- Take regular and timely medication
- Manage stress
- Choose diabetes care team members who can provide the level of support you want
- If you need insulin injections, buy a trusted brand
The Emotional Aspect of Diabetes
It’s important to stay active and control the emotional aspect of diabetes to cope and not give in to temptation. During festival or holiday time it gets even harder. Whereas fasting may lead to dehydration but feasting may cause increase in blood sugar levels. A simple way is to switch to food rich in nuts and fruits and get rid of sugar rich and deep fried foods.
Research3 supports the fact that patients who are self-motivated can see marked improvements through increased awareness, selection of healthy eating options and a willingness to incorporate vigorous exercise into their lifestyle. The key to leading a healthy life with diabetes is change, control and care – all of which have to come from within the people living with diabetes.
Diet, exercise, regular monitoring and adherence to medication are important factors in diabetes management. Empower yourself to live better with diabetes and take the pledge today to be #MoreThanMyDiabetes.
The views expressed in the blog content are independent and unbiased views of solely the blogger. This is a part of the public awareness initiative supported by Sanofi India. Sanofi India bears no responsibility for the content of the blog. One should consult their healthcare provider for any health-related information.