I want to live a healthy lifestyle, don’t you? I’m always on the lookout to read and adopt tips that will help keep me well. However, in November it’s important to focus awareness on a very serious topic, diabetes.
My daughter’s best friend is a hilarious girl with high energy, a little drama and a big heart. She has type 1 diabetes. It’s a scary disease that I didn’t know enough about until she was diagnosed at age 11. Our whole family learned what to do if her blood sugars went too high, and what to do if they went too low. We learned what we should feed her and situations that would exacerbate her condition, like the extreme heat of a hot tub.
Maintaining an even level of blood sugar through diet and daily exercise is important to her health. I mean, really important. Too high or too low blood sugar levels can lead to coma and death if not promptly treated. Other really scary consequences of chronically high sugars are sight loss, stroke, or amputation.
There are three types of diabetes:
Gestational Diabetes: This develops during pregnancy. During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones to support the pregnancy. However, these hormones can make your cells more resistant to insulin and the pancreas may not be able to keep up with the demand to produce more insulin. This results in too little glucose moving into the cells, so too much stays in the blood, resulting in gestational diabetes. Managing the blood sugar level through diet, exercise, and perhaps medication is important to the health of both mom and baby. Importantly, gestational diabetes does not necessarily mean that the mother will have diabetes after giving birth, though the risk is greater.
Type 1: There are 1.25 million Americans with type 1 diabetes and 40,000 more people will be diagnosed this year. Type 1 diabetes occurs at every age, in people of every race, and of every shape and size. Unfortunately, type 1 diabetes is not yet curable, but can be managed well with insulin, proper nutrition and exercise.
Type 2: This is the most common form of diabetes. According to the CDC, nearly 10% of the U.S. population has diabetes. Another 30% have pre-diabetes, a condition that, if not treated, often leads to type 2 diabetes within five years. However, weight loss and diet management (exclude sugary drinks!) can reverse pre-diabetes and, in some cases, reverse or lessen the need for medication for type 2 diabetes.
Pre-diabetes is an opportunity to turn your health back in the right direction before it’s a real problem. Here’s an eye-opener: Of those with pre-diabetes, 90% don’t know they have it. Yikes! With pre-diabetes, there are no clear symptoms—so you may have blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not know it. Take this quiz to see if you are at risk for developing diabetes. And, if you have any of the following symptoms, discuss them with your doctor.
- Excessive thirst and hunger
- Frequent urination
- Unexplained rapid weight loss or gain
- Blurred vision
- Slow-healing wounds
- Skin infections
- Darkening of skin in areas of body creases
- Breath odor that is fruity, sweet, or an acetone odor
- Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
Maintaining blood sugars at an even level is key to avoiding long-term complications. That’s why using tools like DinnerTime to help maintain healthy habits can be so helpful. By choosing a low carb dietary style in your DinnerTime Profile, everyone at your table can enjoy and benefit from lower carb and less processed foods. Each dish and each meal has the nutritional information displayed so the diabetic can know the carb count and administer medication if necessary.
Even if you don’t have diabetes or pre-diabetes, support those that do. Get your own exercise and join a walk-a-thon or bike-a-thon to raise money towards diabetes research and support. And, make sure you always serve healthy low carb options when entertaining your friends and family.