There are actions within the realm of your control that can help you manage the disease and reduce your risk of serious medical complications. Let’s take a look at some of the diabetic lifestyle changes you can make to keep the disease in check:
Better eating. As you likely know, diabetes is the result of elevated blood sugar levels. One of the keys to managing the disease is to focus your diet on healthy eating. Before we delve into what actually constitutes “healthy eating,” here’s a quick tip that can help you find success – Instead of labeling food as “good” and “bad,” think and speak about your dietary habits in the context of “I am choosing to/not to eat _____.” This is an empowering frame of reference. Also, when you affix the “good” and “bad” labels, it can lead to a downward spiral if you go off the track.
More specifically, though, you need to base your diet on veggies, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, legumes, and nuts. (Actually, if you think about it, this is just a smart dietary plan for anyone, diabetic or not!) Contrary to what we have been told, it is best to avoid whole grains and fruit as they excessively raise blood sugar levels. Avoid sugary beverages and, instead, drink lots of water and unsweetened tea. Coffee can be fine, but don’t use sugar-laden syrups. If you get coffee from places like Starbucks, ask for sugar-free options.
Exercise. It is difficult to overstate just how important exercising is for you. The physical, mental, and emotional benefits are countless, including diabetes management. The cardiovascular benefits of regular exercise are particularly important as you manage your diabetes.
Before you begin any kind of workout program, make sure you consult with your primary care physician and our office (especially if it’s been a long time since you last worked out). We can determine if there are any existing or potential issues you need to be aware of. Also, we can provide recommendations for exercises that will be best for you.
Foot care. Given all the issues diabetes can cause for your body, it can be easy to forget how the disease affects the health of your feet. This is not something you want to overlook, though!
Diabetes contributes to both nerve damage (neuropathy) and weakened blood flow (peripheral arterial disease). In turn, these can lead to dangerous situations for your feet, like diabetic ulcers and Charcot foot.
Damaged nerves can leave you unable to feel when damage—including cuts, scrapes, ingrown toenails, and calluses—has been sustained to your lower limbs. Those might be relatively minor problems for someone with normally functioning nerves and immune systems, but they can break down, become infected, and lead to gangrene. Unfortunately, the only way to treat gangrene is amputation. A proper diabetic foot care plan is centered on prevention and protection for your lower limbs, along with daily inspection to catch issues early. If you would like assistance putting yours together, we will be glad to help.
Regular appointments. If you don’t already, make sure you come in to see us roughly every two months. Regular checkups are important so we can catch issues at their earliest, most-treatable stages. We can also review your daily inspection checklist and make sure everything is going well. Of course, this also gives you the chance to ask questions to a medical professional.
For additional information on diabetic foot care, the services we offer, or to request an appointment with our Bloomington, IN podiatrist office, give us a call at (812) 333-4422.