Information provided by Ginger Vieira, writer & person with type-1 diabetes
Wonderful news: With so many advances in diabetes technology, medications, and lifestyle changes, people with diabetes can live long and healthy lives! In addition to consulting their doctor about medication options, people with diabetes often thrive by following a healthy diet of whole foods and fewer sugars, and losing even just a little weight.
It can be very stressful as a newly diagnosed patient with diabetes to feel as though they have to suddenly change everything they eat, so friends and family can show their support by making some of those changes in their own life, and being sure not to over-monitor the person with diabetes but instead make it easier to make good choices by have healthy choices available for everyone.
Unfortunately, neglected diabetes and higher blood sugars can lead to a great deal of nerve damage overtime in the eyes, feet, hands, and organs such as the kidneys. If your friend or family member is struggling to accept their condition, pestering and nagging is rarely helpful. Instead, ask them what kind of help they want and give them an opportunity to talk more openly about their emotions around their condition.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the part of the pancreas responsible for producing insulin. Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, is not preventable, and is treated primarily with insulin administered either with a syringe or pen, or an insulin pump. Advances in today’s technologies in insulin, insulin pumps, and continuous glucose monitors have come a long way for patients with type 1 diabetes. Type 1 patients have accomplished many great things such as climbing Mount Everest, professional racecar driving, Ironman competitions, and much, much more!
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, often diagnosed later in life after age 40 years old and is commonly associated with being overweight and a diet high in processed foods. Patients with type 2 still produce insulin but generally don’t produce enough to meet the needs of their body due to insulin resistance. Approximately 60 percent of type 2 diabetes is said to be preventable through healthy eating, exercise and weight-management. The other 40 percent of type 2 diagnosis are said to be genetically inherited. Treatments for type 2 diabetes include healthier diet, regular exercise, blood-sugar monitoring, oral medications and insulin injections.
Gestational Diabetes develops in some women while they are pregnant due to insulin resistance generally during the 2nd and/or 3rd trimesters. This form of diabetes usually disappears after the mother gives birth. Between three to eight percent of women in the United States develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
The book, “Dealing with Diabetes Burnout,” is a helpful resource.
Helpful articles on diet, exercise, emotions, and guidance for family members can be found at the DiabetesDaily website.
American Diabetes Association, Joslin Diabetes Clinic, and The Mayo Clinic websites all provide a tremendous amount of support and information, including advocacy on your rights in the workplace, school, etc.
While it’s tempting to buy your friend or family member with diabetes a variety of “sugar-free” candies and chocolates, those items are often still highly processed items full of ingredients that will still raise blood sugar. Instead, here are a few wonderful gift ideas for a patient with diabetes.
The Fresh Fruit Basket contains fruit—a healthy source of whole-foods carbohydrate when eaten in moderation and paired with proteins or fats such as nuts.
The Entertainment Basket for those with a hospital stay.
Stuffed animals, especially for little ones, is a great way to provide a little comfort during this stressful time.
If you are visiting your family member in person remember that even simply listening or going for a walk together can provide tremendous comfort and support.
About Ginger Vieira | Ginger Vieira was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and celiac disease since 1999, and fibromyalgia in 2014. Today, she is the Editorial Director at DiabetesDaily.com and creates freelance pieces for other diabetes websites such as ASweetLife.org, InsulinNation.com, and DiabetesMine.com. Vieira also speaks across the country at diabetes conferences on topics such as: diabetes and exercise, diabetes burnout, living positively in diabetes, and more.
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