According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the global prevalence of diabetes among adults over 18 years of age rose from 4.7 percent in 1980 to 8.5 percent in 2014. A 2016 Harris Poll conducted for the Calorie Control Council revealed 20 percent of U.S. consumers reported having been diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes by a medical professional.
With November being National Diabetes Month, Karima Kendall, Ph.D., RDN, LDN of the Calorie Control Council (CCC), has outlined five tips for managing this disease impacting an increasing number of people.
1. Manage stress
Too much stress is unhealthy for anyone, especially for those living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. In addition to stress causing people to forget or not have time to check blood sugar levels or plan healthy meals, stress hormones can directly alter blood sugar levels. Making an effort to reduce stress by implementing tactics such as fitness classes, breathing exercises, and other relaxing hobbies will only help in diabetes management.
2. Get up and move at least 30 minutes a day
Exercise helps increase insulin sensitivity. This means the cells in your muscles are better able to use any available insulin to take up glucose during and after physical activity. In addition to helping lower blood glucose in the short term, exercise on a consistent, regular basis can lower your A1C. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a day. Be mindful, however, that low blood sugars can occur during and up to 24 hours after physical activity, and are more likely to occur if you take insulin, skip meals, or exercise intensely or for a long period of time.
3. Take advantage of low- and no-calorie sweeteners
Dealing with diabetes on a daily basis is hard enough without having to give up the sweet treats you enjoy. There are several low- and no-calorie sweeteners available that are safe to consume and provide the same sweetness as sugar, but without impacting blood glucose levels. In addition to being found in packaged foods and beverages, many of these sweeteners can be purchased at the grocery store and serve as stand-alone sweeteners for use in your own recipes. Given the holiday treats enjoyed this time of year at seasonal gatherings, these sweeteners can help you have your sweet frozen hot chocolate – and drink it too! For more information on low- and no-calorie sweeteners and diabetes, including carb-smart recipes, visit here.
4. Ward off sickness
Physical stress, such as illness or injury, causes higher blood glucose levels in people living with diabetes. With cold and flu season upon us, make sure to get your flu shot, eat well, and wash your hands frequently. In addition, talk to your doctor about adjustments you may need to make to your personal diabetes management routine and insulin dosing (if appropriate) in the event you get sick.
5. Remember, don’t let ‘perfect’ be the enemy of ‘good’
Although there are differences in the management of type 1 versus type 2 diabetes, maintaining a perfect blood sugar 100 percent of the time is simply not possible, no matter how closely you monitor and manage your diabetes. Even those without diabetes experience moderate spikes and lows in their blood sugar levels. Instead, focus on living a balanced lifestyle full of things that motivate you, instead of letting occasional bad blood sugar levels discourage you. You control your diabetes – not the other way around!
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Calorie Control Council from November 16-18, 2016 among 2,074 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Stan Samples at the Calorie Control Council, firstname.lastname@example.org and 678-303-2996.