5 Ways to Talk Gentler to Yourself with Diabetes

Living with diabetes is hard. The 24/7/365 management, constant conscientiousness, precise measurements and tracking, and near perfection that the condition requires can be exhausting, and sometimes we’re our own worst critic.

We can become siloed in the “shoulds” and “should nots”, working ourselves into a corner of unrealistic expectations, not letting ourselves be fully human.

If you find that your language around diabetes is especially harsh, try flipping these 5 phrases to change your entire perspective on things, improve your mood, and live a fuller, free life with diabetes.

Instead of, “I can’t have that”, try “I choose not to have that”

The truth is, people with diabetes can eat anything they want. Sometimes, we may choose lower carbohydrate meals, or opt for seltzer water instead of an alcoholic mixed drink due to high blood sugar, rough diabetes day, or just because we want to take a little less insulin on that occasion.

But saying that you “can’t” have a food item puts you in a position of weakness. It shows that the food has power over you, putting on it a pedestal, and then you’ll begin to crave that food more and perhaps overeat it at a later date. It limits your thinking and creates a limiting mentality.

Instead, saying that you simply choose not to eat something puts you in a position of power, lets everyone else around you know that you’re in control of what you want and do not want to eat, and educates people that you really can have something if you choose to do so. You’ll also feel better about your food choices as a result.

Instead of, “My A1c is so bad”, try “I’m working to improve my A1c”

There are no “good” or “bad” blood sugars. Your blood sugar level is just a piece of data informing you what to do next. Low? You’ll need to eat something. High? You’ll need to dose some insulin. It helps educate you to learn how you respond to food, stress, exercise, new medications, or lack of sleep, and since the A1c test is just a cumulation of 3 months’ of blood sugars, the test result should just inform you on how you need to proceed to feel the best that you possibly can.

The great thing about an A1c test is that once you get your results, you can start working on your goals for the next one, and each quarter that you get the test is a clean slate. Maybe you tried a raw vegan (high carbohydrate) diet for a few months and your A1c came back a little higher. Getting a higher result might steer you in a lower carbohydrate direction for the next time. Perhaps you picked up strength training, and your A1c dropped 1% point. This might inspire you to continue the habit or even increase it. An A1c test is a tool in your toolbelt to help you along on your diabetes journey, but it should never be something that you use to negatively judge yourself.

Instead of, “I have to work out”, try “I get to work out”

Exercise is a cornerstone of any good diabetes management routine, but sometimes keeping that exercise routine is extremely hard. We’ve all had those moments where it’s early, we’re cold, the sky is still dark, and we really do not want to go to the gym, but we say we “have to work out” for better blood sugars.

Instead of feeling like you “have to”, why not flip it and express how thankful you are that you “get” to work out? That you have a body that can move, that your heart and lungs can pump, that you have a bicycle to ride, good running shoes for a jog, or a welcoming gym to go to?

Being thankful for having the time, mental bandwidth, energy, and money for exercise can help motivate you to get it done when it can sometimes be easier to complain.

Instead of, “I always have to go to the doctor”, try “I get to regularly check-in on my overall health”

If diabetes does one thing well, it makes people more cognizant of their overall health and wellbeing more than they ever would be without the disease. It makes you run a fine-tooth comb through your eating and exercise habits, how you manage stress and relationships, even how well you hydrate and sleep. And while going to the doctor often for checkups can sometimes seem like a drag, try and think of it as a great thing that professionals are frequently drawing blood, checking for vitamin and mineral deficiencies, checking in on your mental health, and making sure you’re healthy all around.

A lot of people do not see a doctor regularly, only seeking help when something is really wrong, and unfortunately, sometimes that help comes too late. The positive aspect of seeing a physician frequently is that you can check in on little things that may be bothering you before they turn into big problems.

This can be helpful not only for diabetes-related issues but for your vision, cardiovascular health, foot health, diet, mental health, and more. It’s a great thing and will ultimately make you healthier in the long run.

Instead of, “Diabetes always holds me back”, try “Diabetes lets me slow down and assess what I really need”

There will be times when diabetes slows you down. Perhaps you go low during a game of soccer or basketball and need to sit on the sidelines until your blood sugar comes up. Perhaps your insulin pump malfunctioned and your blood sugar has been high all day, and you’re dealing with a bad headache.

It can be easy to get down on yourself and start believing that diabetes is really holding you back, but in my experience, diabetes has only really had me slow down and tune myself into what was really going on. For instance, if I’m on a hike and keep going low, it’s usually because I didn’t have an adequate enough breakfast and I actually need to eat something with a little more protein, fat, and carbohydrates. If I have a terrible headache, and my blood sugar is stubbornly high, I can zero in that I haven’t had enough water or fresh air that day.

Blood sugars are usually an indicator that something else is going on; the instant feedback that they give people with diabetes is something that other people don’t get. We know if some food has tons of sugar because our levels will skyrocket; we can then portion things appropriately, while others may overeat and feel crumby the next day. We know that regular exercise makes our blood sugars more stable; someone without diabetes may forget or not have enough motivation to exercise because they don’t feel the instant results, and thus won’t feel as energized or refreshed regularly.

Taking the time to really assess what your blood sugars are telling you, and appreciating the time to slow down and address the issue is the key not only to better health but to better diabetes management as well.

What are ways that you’ve learned to talk kinder to yourself with diabetes? Share this post and comment on your ideas below; we love hearing from our readers!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Hypoglycemia Preparedness: How to Know Before You Go Low

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Lorena Bergstrom

A new awareness campaign helps people with diabetes recognize and plan for low blood sugar with emergency toolkits, discussion prompts, journaling, and a support network  

Low blood sugar can be a scary thing – it often sneaks up when people least expect it, quickly shifting from a minor annoyance to a potentially dangerous situation. In fact, a Canadian study found that people with diabetes (type 1 and type 2) experience severe hypoglycemia an average of 2.5 times each year. While type 2 diabetes typically presents a lower hypoglycemic risk than type 1, insulin and oral medications can still cause low blood sugar. However, you can take many steps to protect yourself.

We spoke with endocrinologist Dr. Gregory Dodell (with Mount Sinai in New York) and singer Crystal Bowersox about Lilly’s new Know Before the Low campaign, an important initiative to raise awareness about hypoglycemia. Bowersox and Dr. Dodell hope this program will empower people with diabetes to recognize signs of low blood sugar, start conversations with their peers, and prepare for emergencies before they happen.

Dodell

Image source: diaTribe

Know Before the Low offers information about managing hypoglycemia; it includes a chart of physical and cognitive symptoms, a tip list for emergency planning, and a guide for building a support network. Dr. Dodell said that unfortunately most diabetes literature focuses on controlling high blood sugar – even though low blood sugar can be more dangerous. He said that the campaign aims to address this information gap by “helping people and healthcare professionals talk about low blood sugar and prevent future episodes.”

To start, every person with diabetes should build an emergency toolkit, including:

  • Glucose tablets or sugary snacks
  • Glucagon – read about emergency nasal glucagon (Baqsimi) and ready-to-use autoinjector pens (Gvoke)
  • Glucose monitor (continuous glucose monitor or fingerstick blood glucose meter)
  • Emergency contact information

Bowersox makes her emergency pouch easily accessible to her friends and family: “My family, including my 11-year-old son, knows what to do if I have a hypoglycemic episode or emergency. I think it’s important for an individual’s entire support network to be aware of this.” Of course, it may seem inconvenient to carry around an entire toolkit when going out, but many of the new glucagons (like Gvoke and Baqsimi) are much more portable and easier to use than the glucagon previously available.

Keep in mind that for many people with diabetes, nighttime is both the most dangerous and the most common time to experience hypoglycemia. Dr. Dodell shared some useful advice: “If you see a downward trend before bed, you should eat a snack. It’s better to wake up high and correct during the day than have a low blood sugar episode overnight, which could cause many more complications and inconveniences. It’s also important for people with diabetes to know the triggers that can cause lows at night.” In short: check blood glucose before bed, play it safe, and know your risk factors. Additionally, daily routines have changed during COVID-19; you may be eating different foods, exercising more or less, and experiencing higher stress. All these factors may affect your blood sugar, especially at night.

Everyone’s body is different, but common risk factors for hypoglycemia include:

  • Exercise
  • Too much insulin
  • Fasting or low carbohydrate intake
  • Alcohol
  • Medications
  • Stress
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Illness

For a full list, check out Adam Brown and diaTribe’s 42 factors that affect blood glucose from his book Bright Spots & Landmines.

Hypoglycemia is different for everyone, so it is essential to be aware of your own body. Try to observe the symptoms you experience, and make note of potential triggers. Bowersox recommended keeping track of patterns: “Keeping a log or journal of things such as physical or emotional activity and comparing it to your blood sugar data could be a good way to see if there are trends that are causing you to go low. Ultimately, it’s important to share that information with your support network.” Know yourself – there are many factors that can lead to hypoglycemia, so it’s important to learn your own patterns of low blood sugar so that you can avoid these experiences.

KBTL

Image source: diaTribe

Perhaps the most critical part of Know Before the Low is its emphasis on connecting with your support network – family, friends, coworkers, teachers, and others. Bowersox said that she once had to ask her audience for candy to raise her blood sugar; fans were supportive and thanked her for raising awareness about diabetes. However, it can sometimes be difficult or uncomfortable to start conversations about diabetes and hypoglycemia with the people around us. Dr. Dodell explained that keeping the dialogue casual yet informative can be an opportunity to teach people something new: “You’re not putting a burden on them, but just explaining how diabetes affects your life. By broaching the topic casually, you can treat the conversation as more of a heads up than bestowing a responsibility. Just make sure to explain that you are carefully managing your diabetes, but there is a chance of an emergency. Not everyone has met someone with diabetes, but just explaining it and educating them can be a great preventive step.”

By sharing information about hypoglycemia signs, symptoms, and treatments, you can empower your peers to step in during an emergency. As Bowersox said, “Knowledge is power! When your network has information, they are empowered to help you, especially with low blood sugar. When I travel, my quality of life is improved by just educating and speaking up. Practice with your mirror, practice with your pet, but make sure your support network is there for you.”

As this project raises awareness of hypoglycemia, we hope it encourages people with diabetes, their healthcare professionals, and their support networks to engage in valuable discussions. As Dr. Dodell so perfectly concluded, “This campaign is one of the first to address the dangers of hypoglycemia. It is groundbreaking, and allows people to get needed resources. Diabetes experts and endocrinologists know that high blood sugar can sometimes be better than low blood sugar.”

For more information, read diaTribe’s article on hypoglycemia unawareness.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Type 2 Diabetes Remission: What Is It and How Can It Be Done?

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.By Emma Ryan and Jimmy McDermott Learn about three ways that may put type 2 diabetes into remission: low-carbohydrate diets, low-calorie diets, and bariatric surgery Type 2 diabetes is traditionally described as a progressive disease – without major lifestyle changes, A1C levels will gradually increase over time, […]
Source: diabetesdaily.com

Driving with Diabetes is a Privelege

This content originally appeared on TCOYD: Taking Control of Your Diabetes. Republished with permission.By Steve Edelman I‘ve done quite a bit of medical legal consulting/testifying in cases involving people with diabetes, and several cases that I reviewed recently prompted me to write this note to all of you folks on a pretty serious topic. The […]
Source: diabetesdaily.com

Search

+