By Kristen Hicks-Roof PhD, RDN, LDN, CLC, FAND and Caroline Jury BS
mail@floridanewsline.com

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, so this article lists strategies to prevent and manage your diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, about 11.8 percent of the adult population in Florida, approximately two million Floridians, have been diagnosed with diabetes. About 546,000 people don’t even know that they have diabetes, which puts them at greater health risk. Diabetes can have major negative long-term impacts including heart disease and kidney disease, if not appropriately managed.  

Managing diabetes can be challenging; sometimes, you may feel overwhelmed. Having diabetes means that you need to check your blood sugar levels often, make healthy choices, be physically active, remember to take your medicine, and make other good decisions about your health several times a day. I also recommend working with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist or joining a Diabetes Prevention Program; you can ask your family physician for referrals to both.

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Here are Five Care Strategies to help manage diabetes

  1.  Small changes
  • Drink plenty of water; try swapping a sugary beverage (tea, soda) for water
  • Eat healthy snacks in between meals like a piece of fruit, handful of nuts, or a cheese stick to prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  1. Eat healthily
  • Consult with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and use MyPlate as a guide for your meals. Variety and type of carbohydrates matter, so learning portion sizes and carbohydrate quality are key to success.
  1. Keep moving
  • Work you way up to walking for at least 30 minutes a day to help manage your blood sugar
  • Exercise maximizes your own body’s insulin. Consult with your primary care provider before participating in any exercise activities.
  1. Monitor blood sugar. Blood glucose changes throughout the day; what you eat, how your hormones react, and your activity level affect it.
  • Most healthcare providers suggest you test four times a day: before breakfast and two hours after each meal.
  • Use a logbook to record the results of each blood glucose reading.
  • If needed, take your medication.
  1. Take time to breathe. Take time to relax and unwind at the end of a busy day or anytime you feel overwhelmed.
  • Deeply and slowly inhale and exhale.
  • Repeat the process about four times.

Kristen Hicks-Roof PhD, RDN, LDN, CLC, FAND is an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Brooks College of Health, University of North Florida.

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