In Your Family

The more people you have who are aware of your diabetes, the better off you will be. For family1example, you are less likely to allow yourself to slide on the little things because you know that others will be watching. Nowhere is this more true than in the family, and you will want your spouse and children to be able to look up to you and rely on you to do what you say you will do. Especially, do not try to hide your diabetes. The fact is, managing your diabetes affects so many aspects of your life that you cannot go it alone. For example, you need to eat healthy foods, but you are not going to be able to do that without the cooperation of everybody who lives under your roof. And besides, the healthy lifestyle changes you need to make will benefit all of you. Try these tips:

  • Buy smaller amounts of less-healthy food. You may be tempted to ban junk food from your home altogether. Unless you are the one who does all of the household grocery shopping, though, you really don’t have much control over whether tempting foods come into your house. Besides, why should you punish other family members for your illness, or make them feel guilty? Much better is to seek the middle ground, such as buying tempting foods in smaller sizes, like a quart of ice cream instead of a gallon. That way, if you feel tempted to eat a bag of potato chips, you have some portion control.family2.jpg
  • Make your own run to the grocery store. Try going with your spouse, and make sure that the cart contains items you like that are also healthful and fit into your diabetes eating plan. That way, home-cooked meals are more likely to appeal to you. In turn, this will help you reach your goals for blood sugar and weight loss. It may also have the added bonus of encouraging the rest of the family to eat healthily.
  • Make sure family members recognize the symptoms of low blood sugar. This won’t be easy because you may not recognize them yourself. Blurred vision, mental confusion and sweating are common for hypoglycemia. Make sure they know how to take the necessary emergency measures. bear in mind that most people fail to recognize their own symptoms. In my case, I may claim to feel fine, but I lose concentration and become irritable. But a drink of orange juice or a glucose tablet will have me feeling right as rain in a matter of minutes.
  • Eat your evening meal as a family. There are huge benefits to eating meals as a family on a regular basis. I think you’ll be surprised at some of those listed if you follow the link. Bottom line, though, people tend to eat in a more nutritious way and the behavior of children is better overall. This, in turn, leads to less stress in the home and, best of all, fewer problems with your blood sugar control which can be affected by stress.
  • Work with your spouse to establish health goals. He or she has a vested interest in keeping you happy and healthy. If you plan together there is likely to be less tension between you – at least as regards your diabetes care.

On the Road

Vacations are a time when it is far too easy to slip, and allow yourself to eat less-healthy roadtrip1foods, regardless of how good you usually are. This is especially true of the trip from home to the vacation and the trip back as well. If you have diabetes, it is not a matter of simply packing some clothes and jumping in the car. The road trip itself has a host of possible pitfalls. Such hazards, of course, are not unique to diabetics – boredom, for example – but the side-effects of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) certainly need to be guarded against. Try these tips:

  • Instead of store-bought cookies or protein bars, make some of your own. For example, some chocolate chip protein bars, or some honey nut bars. Wrap the finished product in parchment and place in a sandwich bag to take along with you.
  • Bring some ready-prepared sandwiches with you. Regular sandwiches are in roadtrip2danger of coming apart as you eat, especially if you are doing the driving and are eating one-handed. As an alternative, make a wrap sandwich by placing a thin layer of ingredients (does chicken breast, spinach leaves, red onion and mayonnaise sound good?) on a tortilla and then rolling it up. As another alternative, place similar ingredients into a pita bread pocket. When you need to eat, even if it is one-handed, the result will not be a mess in your lap.
  • For longer trips, take a large cooler with you. When traveling by car on a long trip, it is very tempting to give in to your cravings and to buy junk food, especially as it’s an easy way to keep fractious children quiet. But if you have a large cooler with you, fill it with bottled water, precut carrots and celery, slices of red and green pepper, ready-prepared sandwiches, low-fat dip and so forth, you should be able to save a lot of calories, fat grams and money. Oh, and don’t forget a layer of ice.
  • Use the car’s cup holders to place easily accessible snacks before you start. Consider filling a plastic cup (or a paper cup if you feel that they are more environmentally-friendly) with carrots, snap peas, celery, or other vegetables, and place in the cupholder before you leave your driveway.
  • Be aware of your symptoms, especially for hypoglycemia. We are all different, of course, but you do need to be aware of how traveling affects your diabetes. For myself, the two biggest problems I have with low blood sugar are a reduced attention-span and irritability with those around me. I often fail to recognize this until somebody points it out to me. Neither situation is likely to help me drive better.

In the Kitchen

It’s probably true to say that success in beating diabetes starts in the kitchen. Let’s face it; Kitchen1no matter how well you may be doing in fighting diabetes in other areas of your life, if you are not eating healthy you will always be running behind. And regardless of  how gorgeous your kitchen may be, if you don’t make healthy food, and stock the kitchen with items that will help fight the disease, you are only ever going to be able to hope that the medications you have will be enough. Your goal in this area needs to be setting up a kitchen that lets you make healthy foods in a hurry, and where diabetes-friendly snacks and drinks are the rule rather than the exception. Try these tips:

  • Keep the kitchen clean. Make it a general rule that dirty dishes are never to be left in the sink.. Equally important, the counters and tables are to be kept clean. You may wonder why. After all, diabetes is not caused by dirt or by germs. But the fact is that you will have a better mental attitude, and be more motivated to cook healthy foods if you don’t have to clean the kitchen first.
  • Keep the spice rack well stocked. Not only will spices Kitchen2help you to flavor meals, but by and large they contain next to no calories. There are a few spices that contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These include fresh garlic, onion, oregano, basil, ginger, and rosemary. Cinnamon may even be helpful in treating diabetes (not just helping to reduce calorie intake) by lowering fasting blood glucose levels by up to 30%. It may also help in reducing LDL cholesterol, often referred to as bad cholesterol. Follow this link for an explanation of 13 health benefits of cinnamon.
  • Make the decision to use olive oil rather than corn oil. Olive oil has many health benefits. Extra virgin olive oil is the only type that contains all the antioxidants and bioactive compounds. Briefly, though, they include monounsaturated fats (which do not increase your insulin resistance) and protection from heart disease. Both light and heat can turn olive oil rancid over time, so keeping a supply in the refrigerator is a good idea. But, because olive oil will turn cloudy there, keep a small bottle of olive oil in your pantry as well.
  • Keep fruit out on display. If you always have fruit out on the counter, especially if it is in an attractive display, you are much more likely to choose fruit as a healthy snack.
  • Avoid margarine that contains trans fats. These are made in a manufacturing process  by adding hydrogen to vegetable oils. This turns them into solid fats. Many experts feel that using such fats significantly increases the risk of heart disease as well as having other negative consequences. If you have high cholesterol, go for a spread that contains plant sterols or stanols instead. In my case, I do not have high cholesterol, but my doctor wants me to have lower than normal cholesterol levels because of my diabetes.

At the Pharmacy

pharmacy1So, you’ve recently been diagnosed with diabetes, and your doctor has prescribed some medications for you. Until now, you may have had little or no need to use one, but becoming familiar with your local pharmacy is an important step towards better health and effective control of your blood sugar levels. The pharmacist does a lot more than simply count pills and place them in a bottle. Get to know him or her. He or she can help you understand your diabetes medications, give advice, save you from dangerous drug interactions, and can even save you money. Try these tips:

  • Shop at only one pharmacy whenever possible. If you have all your medication records in one place, you lessen the risk of experiencing dangerous drug interactions or taking duplicate medicines. This isn’t always possible, of course. For example, if I go to the Emergency Room outside pharmacy hours, I have to go to a more distant pharmacy to get a prescription filled or wait until the next day.pharmacy3
  • Carry a list of all your medications at all times. I have my list on my smart phone, but a paper list tucked into your wallet serves just as well. Include any over-the-counter (or OTC) medications such as aspirin, and also any vitamins or herbal supplements you take on a regular basis. This is handy for visits to the pharmacy, but also when you visit your doctor, dietitian, and in emergencies. If you use your smart phone, be sure to transfer the data if (more likely when) you change your phone. It wasn’t until I was writing this post that I realized I had failed to do that, but at least I now have a fully updated list.
  • Get to know your pharmacist. You probably do not need an appointment, but try to visit at a time when the pharmacist is less likely to be busy. Most pharmacies have a place where you can talk privately. Refer to your medications list (see above) and be sure to discuss how these items all interact with each other.
  • Your pharmacist may help you to reduce medication costs. For example, it may be possible to get a 60-day or 90-day supply of your drugs. This can significantly reduce your costs. At one time, I was taking a combined pill that contained two medications. At the suggestion of the pharmacist, I asked my doctor about getting two separate prescriptions. Not only did he agree to do so, but the cost of the two prescriptions together came to less than one-fourth of what I had been paying for the combined pill.
  • Follow up with the pharmacist. This is especially important if you are changing, adding, or reducing medications.