Invest in your health - that is my motto for all my patients. This especially hit home today when a young woman walked into my office with a broken spirit. After the birth of her last child and years of fad dieting she is heavier than ever before. With a strong family history of diabetes and heart disease, sustainable weight loss is critical for preventing or delaying diabetes.
We talked for a long time about her motivation and her diet shortcomings. I discovered that what prevented her from achieving her goals was her lack of confidence in herself and her inability to make herself a priority. In the past she relied on pills or quick fixes for weight loss and then threw in the towel when her weight plateaued. She came to me because she needed hope - reason to try again.
I told her to think of her body as an elite care, let's say - a Mercedes. If you spent a great deal of money on a car, wouldn't you want to give it the best fuel possible so that it could last long and run well? Now, I know our body is far from a car, but the analogy makes sense. We only get one body - and it's important to give it the best fuel we can so that we can try our best to prevent disease, increase our energy, and longevity. We all work hard to get the things in life that we want. I have never met one person who doesn't want to be healthy - they just don't know how or where to start. It's never to late to change behaviors, get motivated and adapt a healthy lifestyle.
My patient today left with her head held high - confident that she would start small and continue to work on dietary and exercise changes. She needs a cheerleader - someone to motivate her. I can be that for her when she comes to visit me.
So to all my readers out there - think of this as reassurance - you can change your life. You can start tomorrow. Start small. Get motivated - get a cheerleader.
Yesterday, I asked one of my patients to test her blood sugar during our session. She doesn't test her blood sugar regularly and was eating a diet rich in carbohydrates. To her dismay the glucometer read: 350mg/dL. She had been walking around with high blood sugars for so long that she didn't even realize her sugars were elevated. We came up with a plan together: she would test her blood sugars regularly - morning and two hours after a meal for one week. If her blood sugars were above target range she would cut back on her carbohydrates and schedule an appointment with her physician to assess her medications. One of the best way to pattern manage and prevent hyperglycemia is to test your blood sugar.
One of my favorite things about being a clinician is that I get to experience and share in the successes of my patients. I feel fortunate that I am able to learn from them each day and that I can share my knowledge and their wisdom with all of the people who deal with Type 2 diabetes on a daily basis. Let's be honest - diabetes is not an easy thing to live with. One of the major struggles posed on those with diabetes is weight loss. I was reminded yesterday that even the most simple changes can yield big results that motivate us to make life altering changes.
My patient was a 73-year-old man who had been struggling with Type 2 diabetes for over twenty years. He had denied his diabetes for too long and suffered some serious complications including, renal disease, toe amputations, etc. But, he didn't let it get the best of them. One day he decided he would control his diabetes and not let it control him. His first order of business was to lose weight. After years of fad dieting and quick fixes, he embraced that hard truth that sustainable weight loss would take work and time. But, in the end it would be worth every second as he was going to invest in himself. He started off by eliminating sweetened beverages, cutting back on his portions of carbohydrates, and swimming 10 minutes a day.
In just six months this man was able to reduce his HgbA1c significantly, lose twenty pounds and reduce his insulin needs. His blood sugars are now in the target range for his age and he feels great. His determination for a better quality of life was truly inspiring. He continues to lose weight, exercise, eat healthfully and increase his energy levels.
His story inspired me to educated people on how small, simple changes can help you to lose weight and improve your diabetes control. It's never too late to take charge. I hope you feel inspired too.
Although I am a dietitian, I still get dizzy with all the products at the grocery store touting food claims. If you are grocery shopping with hopes to find some good snack foods - you may need some help. The most simple advice I can give is to walk the perimeter - avoid the center aisles filled with packaged, snack foods that will leave you feeling hungry and unsatisfied. Grocery shop with a purpose - pick whole food snacks that are rich in fiber and protein and lower in carbohydrate. For example: 1 small apple (size of tennis ball) with 1 tablespoon of nut butter - savory and naturally sweet, rich in nutrients, fiber and protein. If you have diabetes you need to know what snacks work best for your blood sugars and when is the best time to snack.
When it comes to diabetes we are always looking for answers to questions like: What are the best foods to eat? Should I only eat sugar free? Can I drink alcohol? What are the best snacks? It's helpful to have someone guide you to make the best decisions possible.
Elevated blood pressure is a health condition you do not want to ignore. Often referred to as the "silent killer", people often don't even realize that they have hypertension (high blood pressure). Although we can't control all risk factors, we can control our diet. The American Heart Association suggests that for 1 in 3 people who have high blood pressure, a high sodium diet is to blame. We can all benefit from reducing our sodium intake.
Diabetes Self Management Group Classes are a great way to hash out problems and develop strategies to tackling obstacles with people who have the same issues as you do. The Diabetes Conversation Map Class, a patient centered approach to diabetes management, is an informal, yet educational method to learning about diabetes. I know many educators who have had great success using this style of teaching.
If you've just been told you have prediabetes you are certainly not alone. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 57 million people in the United States are considered to have prediabetes. While the diagnosis can be scary and overwhelming, it may actually alter your life for the better. I had a follow-up session with a lovely woman this week - we have been working together for the past four months - this week we learned that she reduced her HgbA1c and cholesterol considerably. Based on her recent blood work, she no longer falls into the prediabetes category and is feeling great and energized. What did she do? She has lost 20 pounds by making simple, sustainable changes - she exercised more, ate less carbohydrates and increased her vegetable intake. Her most pivotal motivating factor - to prevent Type 2 Diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with Type 2 diabetes have a dilated comprehensive eye exam shortly after diagnosis. And if there is no history of retinopathy than exams every two years can be considered, otherwise they should follow-up yearly. The reason is because people with diabetes are at increased risk of developing eye disease and early detection is critical for preventing complications. Glaucoma is one of the many eye conditions that people with diabetes are at increased risk for. I recently learned that January is National Glaucoma awareness month so I decided to educate myself on the topic and share my knowledge with all of you. The good news is that just because you have diabetes doesn't mean you will develop eye problems - you can prevent glaucoma and other eye problems.
Get ready for February and American Heart Awareness Month by being kind to your heart and decide to quit smoking. I know it easier said than done; because smoking is an addictive habit it takes great motivation and willpower to quit without relapsing. You may need to be prepared to work harder than you ever have before, but the good news is today we are fortunate to have many resources to help keep you on track - support groups, hot-lines and forums, to name a few. And aside from the health benefits, smoking cessation is favorable to your pocket and your senses.