Living well with diabetes

Do you, a loved one or a friend have diabetes? No matter who in your circle has diabetes, your relationships can be affected by worry, frustration and sometimes even jealousy around this condition.

Your health care provider is there to assist with medical decisions, but deciding when and what to eat, remembering to test blood glucose levels and taking medicines effectively is a 24/7 job. Society’s tendency to place blame on those with diabetes as well as preconceptions about how one should live can make a person with diabetes feel guilt-ridden and depressed.

DiabetesSo, how does one “live well” with diabetes? Here are a few tips from Deborah Hoffman, registered nurse and Diabetes Self-Management Education Coordinator with Via Christi Clinic, to consider:

  • Get rid of the label. You are no more a “diabetic” than someone else is a “heart attackic” or “canceric.” You are a person. You just happen to have diabetes.
  • There is no such thing as good or bad diabetes. Your glucose levels are either in target range most of the time or not. When they are not, you work with your diabetes team to bring levels into target range.
  • Let the “food police” in your social circle know that you can and should eat carbohydrates or starchy foods – and that can include foods with sugar. Complex carbohydrates are a healthy and necessary part of a meal plan that provides the body with the most efficient form of energy. The key is to eat them in moderation, a great recommendation for everyone.
  • Get back on track by talking with a therapist when diabetes, family relationships or life in general gets you down.
  • Don’t beat yourself up when you haven’t met your own expectations. Although you can and will do better, remember that you did the best you could at that moment in time within the situation you were placed.
  • Meter glucose results are just data, not a reflection of who you are. Use the data as information to decide what works, what doesn’t and when it is time to call your health care provider for possible regimen changes.

You also can be an informed consumer and self-advocate by doing the following:

  • Let friends and family know how they can be of help to you with positive ideas. They will be less likely to offer negative advice.
  • Share your daily schedule and obstacles with your health care providers so that your health regimens can be tailored in a way that will work for you.
  • Notify your employer about your needs regarding meal timing, glucose testing, etc. They are required by federal law to make reasonable accommodations for you.
  • Let legislators know your views on various health-related laws and regulations (or lack thereof).

About Maria Loving

I am the coordinator of the Women's Connection's blog and have worked for Via Christi Health for 11 years. I'm also the mother of two boys, ages 11 & 13.
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