It’s official: you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes! Perhaps you’re feeling powerless right now. In reality, you actually have significant power over this disease. In fact, by evaluating and reassessing your lifestyle with the help of your healthcare team, you can control diabetes and prevent its complications.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that develops when the body produces an insufficient amount of insulin to meet its needs or when cells react abnormally to the insulin produced.
Insulin is a hormone responsible for fuelling the cells with glucose (sugar). If the body lacks insulin for any reason, blood glucose levels (the concentration of the level of sugar in the blood) increase.
High blood glucose levels can, sooner or later, damage the health of your eyes, kidneys, nerves and circulatory system (heart and blood vessels).
Establishing realistic objectives
After being diagnosed, you will need to change your lifestyle – primarily with respect to your diet – in order to control your blood glucose levels and avoid diabetes-related complications.
The goal in treating diabetes is controlling blood glucose levels in such a way that they are within a certain healthy range, avoiding either hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) or hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). In order to accomplish this goal, a combination of corrective measures is often necessary, as follows:
- Changes to your diet
- Weight loss
- Use of medication, including insulin.
You will have to set realistic goals and establish a clear plan to reach them. Here’s a useful tip: don’t change everything at once. This all-or-nothing approach generally fails.
Adopting a balanced diet
Eating is one of life’s pleasures, so eating well can be quite the challenge at times. But you can do it! To avoid complications due to diabetes, you must adopt a more balanced diet that will help you:
To attain this goal, you will probably need to do the following:
- Control your intake of carbohydrates.
- Try to eliminate bad fats from your diet – these include trans or saturated fats.
- Increase your intake of soluble fibre (oats, barley, legumes, etc.), omega-3 from fish sources (salmon, mackerel, shrimp, etc.) and fruit and vegetables (blueberries, blackberries, broccoli, asparagus, etc.).
Canada’s Food Guide is the best reference to help you plan your meals. The number of servings from all four food groups (milk products, fruit and vegetables, meat and meat substitutes and grain products) you need to eat every day depends on your age and sex. The Guide will give you information on this as well as many other topics tied to a healthy and balanced diet.
You can find additional information in Meal Planning for People with Diabetes available on Diabetes Québec’s Website at www.diabetes.qc.ca.
For personalized advice, you should see a nutritionist. This specialist will help you better understand the impact your nutrition has on your glycemia and help you establish a meal plan adapted to your needs.
Eating at set times
Consistency is a key factor in the successful management of diabetes. In fact, you should establish and respect a routine on many different aspects:
- Meals and snacks
- Use of medication
- Blood glucose testing
- Medical appointments
If ever you lack discipline or lose motivation, talk to a healthcare professional. If you find it difficult to take your medication or to test your blood glucose levels regularly, consult your family pharmacists. They can provide you with support and sound advice to make your life easier.
Achieving your goals for better health depends greatly on you! Will and commitment are your biggest allies for proper management of diabetes. Your success also depends on the support of a competent healthcare team specialized in diabetes. A strong team makes all the difference!
If you have diabetes, it is extremely important to properly control your blood glucose. If you are having difficulty reaching the targets set by your healthcare professional or if you experience bouts of hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia, speak with your family pharmacists. They can give you advice and recommend changes to your drug therapy, if need be.
Many Uniprix-affiliated pharmacies offer a blood glucose testing service and private consultations on diabetes management. Ask about these services.
*Certain conditions must be respected. Fees may apply. Ask a member of the pharmacy team for more information. Pharmacists alone are responsible for the practice of pharmacy. They offer related services only on behalf of pharmacist-owners.