People who discover they have diabetes are often afraid even before fully understanding the realities of diabetes. This is part of the human condition—the fear of the unknown. But a better understanding of the self, the disease’s scope, and how it may or may not limit the body can help a person become more empowered and feel less like a victim. Knowledge is what makes the patient work with or around diabetes, instead of citing it as a limitation that prevents him from living a full life.
What a new diabetic needs to know
Newly-diagnosed diabetics should be aware of the causes and effects of their blood sugar rising to above-normal levels. This excessive sugar slowly damages a person’s organs, such as the heart, eyes, kidneys and nerves. An important goal of treatment is to lower blood sugar to near-normal levels through correct diet, proper exercise and medicines.
It’s extremely important to look for a doctor you can trust and easily talk to. Diabetes is a complex disease, and it’s important that you have a doctor who can answer any and all questions you need to ask.
A new diabetic’s diet
Diet is the cornerstone of controlling blood sugar, because blood sugar comes from the carbohydrates we eat. This includes not just sweet foods, such as candies, desserts and soda, but also rice, pasta and bread. But since your body also needs a regular supply of carbohydrates—abnormally low blood sugar is also dangerous—the keyword is moderation.
Small, frequent meals are necessary for diabetics, consisting of either a snack or a meal that has at most half a cup of rice or pasta, or a roll or two slices of bread, with a matchbox-sized piece of meat. Five to seven small meals distributed all throughout the day are necessary. Avoid fatty or fried foods, since these can screw up the way your body metabolizes sugar, and accelerate the damage caused by diabetes.
To avoid feeling deprived, load up with water and fiber, which can trigger satiety but not increase your blood sugar. Salads, oatmeal and fruits are good sources of fiber, but with the latter two, it’s important to watch your servings.
Exercise for new diabetics
Exercising regularly helps the body burn extra sugar. This includes brisk walking, aerobic dancing, jogging, biking or swimming. Do these aerobic exercises 20 to 40 minutes a day, for at least four days a week.
Diabetics must take special precautions when exercising: