November is looking up. In the Northeast, it is a generally a gray and dreary month, full of cold drizzle and dingy trampled leaves. But forget the weather; November has a lot to recommend it: in addition to a favorite national holiday, Thanksgiving, it is Diabetes Month, a great time to focus on caring for yourself.
Diabetes control takes a lot of effort, and nobody can do it all, but everybody can step it up a notch. Little improvements make a difference no matter where you are in your self-care trajectory. So here are five tips to make November a more exciting month for your diabetes care.
Make an appointment with an educator. Education is the first step to helping you along the road to good control. There are so many myths and misleading information out there. Forget the six contradictory things you have heard from Aunt Joan and your co-workers. Skip the ads suggesting a cure though chewing pumpkin rinds. Find out the facts— ask your physician for a referral to a diabetes educator.
Learn Your Numbers– Your ABCs (A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol) are your bellwether. Keep these in line and your risk of developing complications of diabetes drops precipitously. For example, every 1 percent drop in A1C lowers your risk of complications over 30 percent. That is a pretty big bang for your buck. Lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol also takes a big bite out of your risk for cardiovascular disease. Knowing your numbers when compared to the goal ranges for these tests can help you decide on the amount of vigor you need to put into different aspects of your diabetes care.
Take an Extra Step. With winter coming it is so easy to want to huddle by the fire or the radiator and grumble about the frost and snow to come. Instead of stewing in your summer breeze regrets, get moving. It will help you stay warm. Physical activity is one of the most reliable means to improve your health. The immediate payoffs are a drop in blood glucose that can last throughout the day, combined with a boost of mood enhancing endorphins. Supplemental benefits include improved cardiovascular risk, muscle and bone strength and improved sleep. You don’t have to spend hours at the gym to gain the benefits of exercise– 10 minutes three times a day four days a week will start you on the way to a fitter, healthier you.
Write It Down. Keep a record of your blood glucose numbers, food intake, feelings and your questions. Information is a powerful tool for you and for your health care providers. It is amazing what a bit of recordkeeping can do. You can make positive behavioral changes with the stroke of your pen! Studies show that people who keep food records often have a more successful time losing weight, for example. In the weight loss registry, those people who lost weight and kept it off used record keeping as one of their repetitive behaviors. Sometimes the mere thought of needing to write things down jump starts the process of making behavioral changes.
Add a Serving. Vegetables are where it is at nutritionally. They’re slim (about 25 calories a ½ cup), powerful (contain the vitamins A, C, minerals, potassium, iron, fiber) stylish, (come in a variety of colors and flexible) and flexible (you can steam, grill, and boil them). But most people don’t eat enough of them. For many, the composition of the USDA MyPlate is a distant dream. November is a great time to add an extra vegetable to your plate, like late fall favorites such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage and beets, Swiss chard. They won’t raise your blood glucose or thicken your waist line. Try for 2 to 3 cups every day.