A diabetes diagnosis often breeds fear and anxiety. It’s true that having diabetes makes you more likely to develop other chronic diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, and sleep apnea. However, when you partner with a health care provider and embrace a healthy lifestyle, you can effectively manage diabetes and lead a long, productive life.
Through his MDVIP-affiliated practice, top-quality family physician Pompeyo C. Chavez, MD offers individualized care tailored to your unique health needs. Dr. Chavez sees fewer patients, which means more time is dedicated to your care for a true, collaborative health care experience.
Learning about lifestyle changes that best manage diabetes is one of the first steps to thriving after a diabetes diagnosis.
Type 2 Diabetes 101
Type 2 diabetes is not only common, but also on the rise. In 2018 more than 32 million Americans had diabetes, and another 88 million had prediabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Prediabetes is higher than normal blood sugar, but not high enough to meet the criteria for type 2 diabetes. Having higher than normal blood sugar makes you more likely to develop type 2 diabetes in the future.
In people with type 2 diabetes, your cells don’t respond well to the blood sugar-regulating hormone insulin. Instead of entering cells, glucose remains in the bloodstream, causing the pancreas to release more insulin, which sets off a vicious cycle. As a result, blood sugar remains elevated above normal. Over time, an overworked pancreas can lose its ability to produce enough insulin altogether.
Why lifestyle changes matter
Excess glucose that remains in the blood is damaging to the body in various ways and is especially damaging to the blood vessels throughout your body. It can damage the delicate blood vessels in your eyes and kidneys.
In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure. Without making the proper lifestyle changes, you risk serious health problems like blindness, kidney failure, and leg or foot amputation.
The good news is, the right lifestyle changes can have a profoundly positive impact on blood sugar control.
Lifestyle habits to live well with diabetes
You should feel empowered to take control of your diabetes. Things like weight loss, improved fitness, and adopting a diabetes-friendly diet can improve your health and well-being exponentially.
Here are a few things we recommend:
Do a diet overhaul
Close to 90% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese and shedding excess pounds rapidly aids in managing blood sugar. Even modest weight loss of 10 to 20 pounds can have a major impact.
Overhauling your diet is one of the most beneficial lifestyle changes you can make toward living well with diabetes. Everything you eat affects your blood sugar levels and impacts your weight. It’s crucial to be aware of what and how much you’re putting on your plate.
Try to get a good mixture of vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats on every plate. It’s also best to limit your carbohydrate intake to keep your blood sugar levels even. A focus on high-quality protein, fresh or frozen vegetables, and a target amount of complex carbohydrates will get you off to a good start. If you want some guidance on how to eat better, Dr. Chavez can help you create a diet plan that works for you.
Get your body moving
You don’t have to turn into a die-hard gym enthusiast to manage your diabetes, but physical fitness is another important component to effectively managing this condition. Exercise not only gets your heart and muscles pumping, but doing so improves insulin sensitivity and boosts how effectively your body uses glucose.
Engaging in physical activity is also important for weight management and helps to ward off chronic diseases.
Think about activities that you enjoy that are physical in nature, like playing tennis, bike riding, or swimming. If you don’t know where to start, walking is highly beneficial. We can help you come up with a few exercises that fit into your interests and ability levels.
Develop a partnership with a health care provider
You aren’t in this alone. Your physician has an interest in helping you stay well. We encourage you to schedule and keep regular appointments with us. Checkups give Dr. Chavez the opportunity to monitor your health, manage risk factors, and track treatment progress. This involves having markers such as your cholesterol, blood pressure, and A1c checked regularly.
Dr. Chavez may refer you to a podiatrist to have your feet checked regularly and an eye doctor to keep track of your eye health.
Stay on top of stress
Stress is bad news for both your psychological and physical health, and when it comes to diabetes, stress interferes with how well your body manages blood sugar. Stress hormones like cortisol raise blood sugar and make it harder for your body to keep blood glucose in check.
People who thrive with diabetes make it a priority to engage in stress-busting activities like yoga, reading, walking in nature, medication, and listening to relaxing music.
We can help you find ways to keep calm and collected, so you can focus on staying healthy.
Regardless of your current health status, if you smoke, it’s crucial to stop, and it’s even more important to quit if you have diabetes. Like elevated blood sugar, smoking damages blood vessels and is a recipe for diabetes-related complications like nerve damage, eye disease, and stroke. If you need help abstaining from smoking, Dr. Chavez can discuss medication and resources to help you quit.
We understand that making permanent changes is difficult, and we’re here to support you every step of the way. For more information on how to best manage your diabetes, reach out to our Bastrop, Texas, office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Chavez today.