Being diagnosed with diabetes can be a big shock and lead to feeling overwhelmed about how to manage this chronic disease.
The different type of diabetes has different causes but it is a disease that affects your body's ability to produce or use insulin and is characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose.
Some of the risk factors for getting diabetes include having a family history, being overweight or obese, high blood pressure, having low HDL cholesterol and living a sedentary lifestyle.
Managing diabetes through lifestyle changes
A diabetes diagnosis can lead to feelings of denial where you refuse to believe this is happening to you. This could lead to minimizing the seriousness of the disease, which according to Margot McCumisky, the National Manager of Diabetes South Africa, can be a dangerous way of looking at diabetes.
After a diabetes diagnosis your doctor will almost always recommend lifestyle changes to improve your health. This includes losing weight, exercising more and make changes to your diet. Exercise increases insulin sensitivity and after exercising your blood sugar levels drop.
“Tackle one thing at a time and when you feel you can manage, start working on other things. You can start by cutting fat out of your diet, losing 2 to 5 kg or start walking two or three times a week.”
Set small manageable goals and as you start making small changes you will feel motivated and believe that you can do more.
Family support and long-term goals
When a family member is diagnosed with diabetes it can lead to anxiety amongst family members about how the disease complications would affect and change their lives. Diabetes may run in the family and by changing to a healthier lifestyle it ensures that the person with diabetes manages their condition but also that diabetes prevention becomes a family affair.
“Everybody in the family can benefit from a healthier lifestyle but immediate drastic changes may not work. You can start by making subtle changes such as changing to wholewheat pasta. Family favourite recipes can still be made by substituting certain items with healthier alternatives. If everybody still eats the same food it won’t result in the person with diabetes feeling different or left out.”
Living with diabetes does not mean that you can’t enjoy food anymore, it just means that you have to be a bit more selective about what you eat. “By using your imagination and a bit of creativity you can still enjoy fantastic food. Even though it seems like a big thing, It can become a way of life by setting goals and taking small steps.”
Medical aid and support
Diabetes is one of the 26 chronic conditions for which Medihelp covers the cost for diagnosis, treatment and care. Prescribed minimum benefits (PMB) for this condition can be accessed by registering the illness.
Medihelp also offers an Early Detection programme aimed at identifying individuals with undiagnosed high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, to support them in managing their conditions.
According to McCumisky it is important to have minimum benefits for someone with a chronic condition such as diabetes as treatments need to be ongoing. < /p>
“People living with diabetes also need support. Members of Diabetes South Africa get an array of benefits such as info booklets, recipes, medi-socks, a free eye scan, a free blood glucose meter and a membership card. We also have a network of support groups for people with diabetes to give them the opportunity to share their experiences and benefit from interaction with other people in the same situation.”Sources: