By: Dr. Liat Corcia
“What can you do to have a healthy lifestyle?”
November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and before all the holiday celebrations begin, it is the perfect time to remind everyone, not just people with diabetes, that eating and drinking in moderation coupled with exercise is a recipe for a healthy lifestyle.
An astounding 29 million Americans have diabetes and an estimated 8 million Americans have the disease and do not know it. The problem is that the longer the disease goes undiagnosed the higher the risk of complications in the future. It is important to have annual check-ups with your physician to evaluate your need for testing.
There are two different types of diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes mostly affects children. This is a condition in which the body is unable to produce insulin needed to manage and maintain proper sugar levels.
Type 2 Diabetes, is more prevalent in adults, and previously was known as adult on-set diabetes. In this instance, the body is able to produce insulin but it cannot use it properly. Weight is a predominant factor in Type 2 Diabetes and unfortunately, with the overweight epidemic in this country, even in children, we are seeing more children and young adults develop what used to be called an adult only disease.
People with Type 1 Diabetes will always need insulin, because their bodies do not produce it. But people with Type 2 Diabetes can often learn to better manage the disease by adjusting their eating and exercising habits.
There are some indications to look out for that may show your body is having difficulty managing sugar levels. However, in Type 2 Diabetes, you may not notice any new symptoms or changes.
Some of the signs that you may be pre-diabetic or have diabetes include:
- – Change in weight
- – Darkening of the skin behind the neck and under the arm pits
- – Feeling thirsty and drinking more
- – Increased urination
- – Decreased energy
As a pediatric endocrinologist, I encourage families to lead a healthy lifestyle and the holidays are no exception. For children, it is especially important that the whole family adopt healthier habits together rather than “punishing” the child with a special diet or exercising schedule.
Here are some tips to help you navigate through holiday gatherings filled with goodies.
- – Space out meals and have a smaller lunch and dinner rather than a super-sized supper
- – Instead of a full portion of dessert, have a little piece
- – If you have diabetes, check your blood sugar levels more frequently, since you are out of your normal routine, and give extra insulin as needed for higher sugar values.
- – Dedicate time for exercise
- – Try healthier versions of a favorite recipe
Healthy eating is a challenge especially around the holidays, but being mindful of how many carbohydrates you are eating, and balancing that with smaller portions and lots of fruits and veggies will help you to control the amount of sugar you consume. It is even a good idea to plan your meals a few days ahead so that you are prepared for delicious meals that will not derail your healthful intentions.
Keep moving. Exercise helps the body become more sensitive to insulin. So the more you exercise, the less insulin you will need to have the same effect.
Every effort adds up. Small changes are just as important as big ones and are easier to accomplish.
- – Whenever possible take the steps instead of the elevator or escalator
- – Park some distance away from the mall to get in some extra walking
- – Go for a walk after dinner
- – Family games in the backyard are a good way to get in some exercise
National Diabetes Awareness Month is a great opportunity to remind people to get tested and evaluate their lifestyles. Diet, exercise and medication can be used to help manage the disease once diagnosed and prevent complications in the future. Close monitoring by your physician is crucial.
It is never too late to go to your TopLine MD doctor and get checked out. It is helpful to start talking to your doctor and pediatrician as soon as possible to map out a healthy lifestyle and diagnose diabetes risk factors early.