Three Essential Commitments to Diabetes Management
Years ago, when I first began to focus on guiding people with diabetes as a “remote” group (beyond face-to-face patient relationships), I needed to zero-in on a concise message about diabetes self-management. As a professional and as a person with diabetes I knew how effective self-management can be in preserving long term health and wellbeing – I still live every day with the benefits. But, I also recognized how so many of my patients were not really “getting it.” So, I formulated what I call three essential commitments to diabetes management and here they are.
People with diabetes must understand what that really means, and there is no shortage of misleading information, often from personal observations of a relative or acquaintance. Some, for instance, think the worse complications of diabetes are inevitable. Conversely, some believe type 2 diabetes is no big deal – type 1 is the “bad” diabetes. Both these views are profoundly incorrect. The reality is that diabetes, even type 2 diabetes, is a serious medical condition with serious possible consequences to overall health and wellbeing, but one that can be effectively managed with medication and proactive behavior choices (self-management).
Diabetes self-management is almost always a change of lifestyle, and an inconvenience. Adopting and sticking with effective self-management requires that we prioritize our health against other demands on our time and attention. Some crucial, and inconvenient, examples might be making time for regular physical activity, or eating at home more often (limit eating out). These can seem like little things taken one day at a time, and sometimes go against our nature to sacrifice for others. But, diabetes complications are either promoted or resisted by the long-term accumulation of small decisions and choices that either put our health first, or don’t. Prioritizing our health means we make the better choice most of the time.
It’s impossible to manage diabetes effectively without some level of knowledge. When should you check blood glucose levels? What’s your medication? Which foods are carbohydrate foods? How many grams of carbohydrate should you have per meal, and what’s an appropriate portion size of different foods? How often should you examine your feet? What’s the greatest health risk from diabetes?
Diabetes is a unique condition in requiring our constant and continuous participation in its “treatment.” Accepting reality, prioritizing our own health, and equipping ourselves with some basic knowledge are three essential commitments to promote long-term health and wellbeing.
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