Growing up, I didn’t think diabetes was a big deal. I knew that diabetics had to check blood sugars daily, change their diet, visit the doctor more often and start exercising. However, after studying nutrition in college, I realized that diabetes is serious. Perhaps I thought it was more serious than others I knew who had diabetes and I didn’t even have it! I think that people take for granted how our bodies work when they are functioning normally. It may not be until you get diabetes (or study nutrition, etc.) that you realize how wonderful your pancreas, liver, and the food you eat is for your body-if handled appropriately. I can’t tell you what it is like to live with diabetes, but I can tell you what it is like knowing the facts and how to treat and even prevent diabetes. I would hope that once someone is diagnosed, one’s life would change. Afterall, who wants to develop heart disease unnecessarily (or at all), go blind or have a part of your body amputated? Not me! I’m sure having diabetes is not easy in the least, but I would take all the changes if I could avoid all the consequences of ignoring my condition.
I’m not saying that diabetics ignore their conditions. One of my internship rotations lately was spent in a diabetes management program for 2 weeks. This event got me thinking that if I was in the shoes of a diabetic for a day or even a week, I’m sure I’d get sick of all the needle sticks, glucose records, carbohydrate counting and having to be active enough everyday-but I would be certain not to take it for granted.
I learned a lot from this rotation-but there is one thing in particular that I really got thinking about. If we all ate a ‘diabetic diet’ we would all have a really good chance at avoiding a number of health problems down the line. I mean think about it. If we all ate proper portions of the proper foods from each food group, didn’t over indulge in sweets, breads, and the like but instead fell in love with vegetables, protein and fiber, we could avoid developing diabetes or a number of other health conditions that plague our society and our rising health costs.
It sounds really obvious, doesn’t it? But…look around you. Maybe you need to look at yourself. Or not-who cares what we put in our bodies right now? We have so many years left of life! We should eat for today and start our healthy lifestyle tomorrow-or next weekend-or after the new year! Right?
While sitting in on a patient consultation the other day, I realized that people don’t think about living a healthy lifestyle as a part of daily life; to most, this is a ‘diet’. Many people live life how they want, eating what they want, sitting as much and avoiding movement as much as they want never batting an eye at the fact that eating well, movement and exercise is more than “being healthy” or “being on a diet”– it is life. You cannot sustain life by doing the above without some consequences. These consequences go beyond gaining weight, getting too large for your current clothes, making a new years resolution only to break it and hope that Lent comes sooner than later. The consequences may lead to these but possibly much more: Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s…what does your family history tell you?
Check back next week for 10 easy ways to improve your lifestyle by adding more fiber to your diet!