Want to Beat Diabetes?
Follow these tips to manage your diabetes and live healthy
Last fall, one of Charlotte Atkinson’s friends invited her to go to a Diabetes Prevention Program meeting at a Florida Blue Center near where they live. Charlotte said yes, hoping she could lose a little weight. Her husband, Pat, who has diabetes, came along, too.
During the class, the Atkinsons learned to watch their salt intake and how to spot hidden sugars as they hunted for words like dextrose, agave nectar and corn syrup on food labels. They tracked what they ate and exercised more, too. By the end of the program, both Charlotte and her husband had lost weight, and, even more amazing, Pat’s doctor said the 79-year-old’s blood sugar was low enough that he no longer needed to take medication for his diabetes.
“He’d been on metformin for about seven years,” Charlotte said. “His doctor said he doesn’t have to be on it at all anymore.”
Experts say making healthy lifestyle changes like this not only helps people prevent Type 2 diabetes but also can help manage it in those who have the condition already. More than 11 million adults over age 65 have diabetes, and even more are at risk.
No matter whether you are at risk for diabetes or have the condition already, it’s important to follow all your doctor’s guidance. If left unmanaged, diabetes can put you at risk for stroke, blindness and other health problems. You may need to take medication, or you may be able to manage the condition by leading a healthy lifestyle. Your doctor will help you decide what’s best for you.
If you’re living with diabetes or just want to prevent it, it’s important to learn how food affects your blood sugar and what you can do to keep your blood sugar levels low, according to the American Diabetes Association. You can still eat foods you like, but moderation is key. You can also try things like making cauliflower mash instead of traditional mashed potatoes or choosing whole-grain bread over white bread. The most important thing is to make a plan and stick with it.
Since taking their class, Charlotte says she and her husband have been able to stick to their new healthy habits.
“It made a big difference,” she said. “I am really grateful we went.”
Looking for help?
In addition to the Diabetes Prevention Program, Florida Blue offers care programs that can help you manage diabetes and other health conditions. Call 1-888-476-2227 to see if you qualify. For resources on fitness, class offerings or to meet with a registered nurse for screenings, visit a Florida Blue Center. Visit floridablue.com/find-a-location or call 1-877-352-5830 for locations and hours.
Know Your ABCDs
These tests help your doctor monitor your diabetes:
A: The A1C test measures your average blood glucose level.
B: Blood pressure checks are important because high blood pressure can worsen diabetes.
C: Your doctor needs to check your cholesterol to help keep your arteries from becoming clogged and lower your risk for heart attack and stroke.
D: Diabetes can cause blindness, so be sure to have a diabetic retinal eye exam every year.
Living Healthy With Diabetes
- Make a meal plan: Eat healthy and nutritious foods. Check your food labels for hidden sugars like agave nectar, cane sugar, coconut sugar, corn syrup, dehydrated cane juice, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, molasses, palm sugar, raw sugar, sorghum and turbinado.
- Exercise: Try short walks or gardening. Exercise increases your body’s sensitivity to insulin and helps your cells turn glucose (sugar) into energy.
- Manage stress. Stress can take an extra toll on your body, so it’s important to keep it in check.
- See your doctor at least twice a year. Your doctor will help you make sure you are getting the care you need to manage your condition.
Watch Out for These Symptoms
If you experience symptoms such as increased thirst, weight loss, fatigue or blurred version, get checked out by your doctor as soon as you can.
Filed under: Medicare