What PWD Do to Manage Their Type 2 Diabetes
It’s not surprising that community members tell us that Type 2 diabetes (T2D) can be exceptionally challenging to live with. It can require near-constant attention to detail, meticulous meal planning, and regular monitoring of insulin levels. It doesn’t help that it can be impacted by a variety of factors, like stress, diet, and sleep patterns. Any combination of these can impact blood glucose levels in mild to moderate ways. It can feel like there’s no escape!
That may not be what newly diagnosed people want to hear, but, believe it or not, managing our lifestyles can actually make a huge difference. It sounds trite and like an over-simplistic solution. But with close enough attention to detail (taxing in its own right), careful eating, and a few other tricks here and there, there’s a pretty chance to keep our T2D under control.
Based on feedback we’ve gotten from the community, there are five focal points for managing T2D:
1.Test. Test. And Test again. The first step in managing T2D is testing and monitoring our blood glucose levels. Depending on several factors, we may need to test anywhere from a few times a day, to one every other day, and anywhere in between. Learning how your body works and responds is critical to finding out what might work for you. Testing is the frontline data that can put you in control.
2. Food. Food. And more Food. Planning regular meals helps regulate and maintain good blood glucose levels, and a meal plan – either made on our own or with a nutritionist or a dietician – is an asset when it comes to making food choices in restaurants or preparing meals at home.
There are tons of great apps available to PWDs that can help track everything from calories to nutritional values. People say these are incredibly helpful tools because it’s just one less thing to have to store in our brains.
3. To sweat or not to sweat. Increased activity levels help to make a difference in terms of how your body processes carbs and sugars. This doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the gym. Many people tell us they won’t go to a gym, having spent years suffering from stigma and shaming because their bodies don’t fit that culture. Instead, some do a 30-60 minute walk three times a week. That alone can help lower blood sugar, increase heart health, help insulin do its job, and lower blood pressure. Some go dancing – salsa, ballroom, hip hop, ballet – or go to Virtual Reality arcades to play action games or skill tests like hockey goalie and fencing. Since muscle processes insulin more efficiently, building muscle mass might help the body. If weight training isn’t your thing, try taking the stairs instead of the elevator, go kayaking, or shovel snow (always a fan favourite).
Increased physical activity creates more energy during the day, decreases stress and fatigue, improves sleep patterns, and lowers risk of other complications associated with diabetes, like heart disease.
4. Catch some z’s. Sleep apnea and stress can be a major problems for PWDs. These issues can weaken our immune systems and compromise how our body processes food, impacting your blood sugar levels.
See your doctor about sleep apnea as they can provide you with all the options available for treatment which include surgery or devices like a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) system, which you wear while asleep. If you sleep with a partner, be sure they’re aware of your condition. It’s well known that they can suffer as well, impacting the quality of their sleep. This can lead to emotional and relationship issues which are the last thing you want to add to your plate.
5. Diabetes is stressful. Full stop. Stress management is difficult for everyone. It’s important to try and find things that relax us. It may sound cheesy, but yoga, meditation, and deep breathing are excellent options at managing stress, and they happen to be inexpensive if you’re doing them at home. Look online for tutorials and videos on both. Ultimately, we have to find whatever works for us. One of our members told us he reads Shakespearean plays while listening to Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”.
How do you manage your T2D? What works or doesn’t work for you? Please share with us on our Facebook page.