November 12, 2015

Tips to Managing Type 2 Diabetes

Be Healthy

A vast majority of all diabetics – approximately 90-95 percent of the estimated 29 million people in America with the disease – have what is known as type 2 diabetes. 

Type 2 diabetes is more common in adults. Yet, more and more cases of type 2 diabetes are being diagnosed in children, which experts say mirrors trends in the increasing obesity epidemic. 

Unlike those with type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes are able to produce an adequate amount of insulin via the beta cells of the pancreas. However, cells in their fat tissue, liver and muscles don’t utilize this insulin properly. Because of this, the pancreas responds by trying to make even more insulin. Eventually, the pancreas can no longer keep up with the body’s demands, resulting in what is known as type 2 diabetes. 

“Once a child or adult is informed they have diabetes, lifestyle changes will have to be made and maintained to upkeep a certain quality of life,” says Sally Belles, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with Straub Medical Center. 

“Without proper management of this lifelong condition, an individual is at increased risk for diabetes-related complications, making health care more difficult and ultimately decreasing one’s quality of life,” Belles adds. 

Here, Belles shares some tips on how to best manage type 2 diabetes: 

  • Be conscious of your eating habits. Following the “Create Your Plate” method will not only help you eat smaller portions, it also can be a guide in eating the right amount of the right types of foods. The method suggests that you fill:
    o    1/2 your plate with non-starchy vegetables – Dark-green, red, orange or purple veggies.
    o    1/4 your plate with a starch – Whole-grain rice and cereal, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread.
    o    1/4 your plate with a lean protein – Fish, lentils, beans, eggs, beef, pork, turkey, chicken.

    The plan also allows for one serving of fruits or dairy as a side and a low-calorie drink like coffee, tea or water.
    “Remember to eat a variety of vegetables, whole grains, fruits, healthy fats, non-fat dairy and lean meats or meat substitutes,” Belles says. “Consuming too much of the same food won’t give your body the proper nutrients it needs to perform everyday tasks. Limiting saturated fat, sugar and salt consumption will also assist greatly in improving your eating habits.” 
  • Stay active. There are many benefits to fitting fitness back into your daily routine. Being more active throughout the day can help maintain or lower blood-sugar levels, and you will have more energy, less stress and a better attitude. Strength training, aerobic activities and flexibility training also can lower your risk for a heart attack or stroke. 
  • Down the pounds. Not all people who have diabetes have to lose weight; however, being overweight can make it more difficult to manage diabetes. Losing 7-10 percent of body weight for someone who is overweight can help improve blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure levels. 
  • Managing with medication. Medicine in the form of pills, insulin or a combination of the two may be prescribed to keep glucose levels within a specific target range.
    “Make it a point to be fully educated on your medication before you start taking it,” Belles says. “Speak with your pharmacist or doctor immediately if you feel that you are beginning to have side effects from the medication, but don’t stop taking it unless your doctor says so. Medication will be most successful if paired with a healthy lifestyle and a good diet.” 
  • Measure with a meter. Blood glucose meters are often found in drug stores and are covered by insurance. This device is used to measure blood glucose levels, which are affected by changes in diet, activity level and medication. Blood glucose levels are often checked before a meal and two hours after a meal. 
  • Seek out the support you need. People handle different situations differently. Some people turn to others for help during tough times, while others would prefer to be by themselves. There is no right or wrong preference. However, those who like company during tough times should consider asking family and friends for a little extra guidance and support

“It’s important to accept that getting diabetes under control may take some time,” Belles says. “Most lifestyle changes don’t just happen overnight, so remember to take it one step at a time, be patient and keep a positive outlook while adjusting to and maintaining these suggested new ways of life.”