November is American Diabetes Awareness Month, a chance to bring attention to an issue that affects many older adults. 12.4% of adults in North Carolina and 13.2% of adults in South Carolina have been diagnosed with diabetes. Let’s talk about a few dos and don’ts to manage type 2 diabetes as you live life boldly!
Do: Eat a healthy diet
A healthy diet is an important part of living boldly with type 2 diabetes. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), eating at regular intervals helps maintain steady glucose levels. The American Diabetes Association recommends eating more vegetables, whole grains, fruits, healthy fats and lean meats. As the CDC explains, you should also make sure you’re getting plenty of fiber. Since fiber doesn’t cause the spikes in blood sugar that simple carbohydrates do, it can help you keep a steady glucose level.
To make it easier to reach for the right foods, a diet like the Mediterranean Diet can help you cook healthy foods and manage your weight. According to the Mayo Clinic, this diet emphasizes plant-based foods and healthy fats. Talk to your doctor before starting a new diet.
Do: Get regular exercise
Regular exercise is important to staying healthy with type 2 diabetes. The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity (exercise that raises your heart rate) every week. Try low-impact aerobics like biking, swimming, walking, elliptical training, progressive strength training, Pilates, gentle yoga and water aerobics. For advice on incorporating more aerobic activity into your daily life, check with your primary care provider (PCP).
Do: Set SMART goals to manage your weight
As we discussed in a previous blog, weight management can help improve your health while living with type 2 diabetes. According to the CDC, shedding just 5% of your weight can help reverse prediabetes. Set a weight loss goal for 5-7% of your starting weight and track your progress. When trying to lose weight, it’s a good idea to set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused and timely (SMART). Talk to your healthcare provider for more detailed information about how to set proper goals to reach your target weight.
Don’t: Eat too many carbs or processed foods
When managing type 2 diabetes, it’s important to regulate certain foods. You can still eat carbs if you have type 2 diabetes, but be aware that sugar-sweetened foods, salty snacks, packaged sweets or processed meats can cause spikes in sugar. While you don’t have to avoid these foods entirely, monitoring your intake is a good idea.
Don’t: Neglect regular doctor appointments
With chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, it’s even more important to make sure you are going for regular doctor’s appointments and checkups. Closer supervision from your healthcare team can help ensure your lifestyle changes and medicine effectively manage your blood sugar.
One way to get the care you need is by finding a PCP who can serve as your go-to provider for medical treatment and coordinated care. Check out our previous blog for answers to common questions about choosing a PCP, or try our online search tool to look for providers.
Don’t: Ignore signs from your body
Diabetes can cause some physical symptoms in your body. According to the CDC, The American Academy of Dermatology Association and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, symptoms like tingling or loss of feeling in your feet, blood vessels or itchy skin and frequently changing vision with dark areas may be signs of diabetes. If you notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor.
You should also monitor your body for symptoms of stress. Stress can increase your blood sugar, according to the CDC. Try journaling, meditating or connecting with a loved one to manage stress. In a previous blog, we talked more about the signs of stress and the positive lifestyle changes you can make to help you manage it.
Diabetes affects many of us but doesn’t have to prevent us from living life boldly! We hope that these steps can help you get started taking control. If you have any questions about treatment, talk with your doctor. Apex members can contact their ApexAssistants to learn more about the diabetes programs we have available.
ApexHealth is a Medicare Advantage plan that has your back. Give us a call at (844) 279-0508 (TTY: 711) to speak with an ApexAssistant. Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Apr. 1 through Sept. 30 and seven days a week 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Oct. 1 through Mar. 31.