The Top Seven Things You Should Do To Control Your Blood Sugars
Roberto C. Mirasol, MD, FPCp, FPSEM
There are several ways to control diabetes. It is believed that knowledge alone is insufficient. The knowledge should be translated to behavior change to be able to achieve metabolic control. These seven behavior changes were developed by the American Association of Diabetes Educators called AADE7*. They will serve as guideposts to you and your healthcare professional in the control of your diabetes.
1. Healthy eating. You should start making healthy food choices. Learn to eat low fat meals. Avoid sources of hidden fats. Sugars and sources of sugars should be limited. Eat vegetables. Understand portion sizes. You should control the amount of food you are eating. It is the amount eventually which will spell out the difference between being in control or not. You should eat small frequent feedings. Avoid binge and buffet eating. If you are overweight or obese, control your weight. Learn how to read labels to know and be aware of the food you are eating.
2. Be active. You should have regular activity. Do this most days of the week, 30 minutes of moderate intensity. Exercise alone however is not sufficient.
You should diet as well. Walk, walk, walk more. Use stairs not elevators or escalators. Dance and be active. Exercise with a partner. Clean your room. Wash your car. Walk the dog. Do gardening.
3. Monitor your blood sugars. Daily self-monitoring of your blood glucose will provide you with feedback as to the effect of food, physical activity and medications on blood glucose levels. Learn how to use a blood glucose meter. Ask your doctor or nurse educator about frequency, target values and interpretation of results. If you get very high readings all the time then your diabetes is out of control and your doctor will institute Changes to your regimen. If you have hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, take something sweet. Aside from blood sugar, you should also monitor your blood pressure, lipids and weight.
4. Take your medicines. There is no cure for diabetes and it is a progressive disease, hence the need for lifelong treatment. You should take your medications on time as prescribed by your doctor. Understand how your medicines work including action, side effects, efficacy, toxicity, prescribed dosage, appropriate timing and frequency of administration, effect of missed and delayed doses and instructions for storage, travel and safety. Effective drug therapy in combination with healthy lifestyle choices, can lower blood glucose levels and reduce the risk for diabetes complications.
5. Problem solving. You should develop good problem solving skills. High or low blood sugar should be addressed immediately. Know what to do when eating outside. When you get sick, you should be able to make decisions regarding food, activity and medications. Know what to do when travelling. These problem solving skills are continuously put to use because the disease is progressive and chronic complications emerge, life situations change and you are aging.
6. Reducing your risk. Effective risk reduction behaviors such as regular eye, foot and dental examinations reduce diabetes complications and maximize health and quality of life. Foot inspection and care should be done almost every day. Eye exam every 6 months or every year. You should see your dentist on a regular basis. Smoking should stop. If you can’t on your own, seek professional help. Ask your doctor about the use of aspirin to reduce risk of heart disease and stroke.
7. Healthy coping. Your health care professional can help you cope with the many challenges your diabetes and its complications present to you. You should be motivated enough to change your behavior and sustain it. When you feel anxious, threatened or down, your health care professional is always there to help you out. You should set achievable goals and your health care professional will guide you through the attainment of these goals. Don’t despair you can do it even if the odds are great. WE ARE HERE TO HELP.
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Brought to you by the Philippine College of Endocrinology Diabetes and Metabolism (PCEDM)