One of the most important parts of any diabetes treatment plan is healthy eating and exercise.
There is no magic “diabetes diet” to follow, but there are guidelines to follow to make sure you are eating the right amounts of the right food. Your doctor or a dietitian can help you create a meal plan that fits your food likes and dislikes, your goals and your lifestyle. Read “Choices Matter: Simple Steps to Eat Better and Feel Better,” by Mary Tayloe Gaskins, a clinical dietitian at Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation at Vidant Medical Center, and enjoy some of our healthy recipes.
When we say exercise, that doesn’t mean you have to go get a gym membership. Just move! Any physical activity will help. Pick what you enjoy – walking, biking, swimming, dancing. Make it a part of your daily routine. If you have not been active in a long time, start slow. Aim to get in at least 30 minutes a day, and remember, it doesn’t have to be done all at once. Talk to your doctor about an exercise plan that is right for you. We have exercise tips for you too.
You and your doctor will decide how many times a day or week you should check your blood sugar. Keep a record of it. You will learn how certain things – like food, exercise, sickness and stress – affect your levels.
Your doctor will also do an A1C test. This blood test indicates your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. It measures the percentage of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. The higher your blood sugar levels, the more hemoglobin you'll have with sugar attached. Your doctor will tell you what your target A1C level is.
InsulinIf you have Type 1 diabetes, you will need insulin. Some with Type 2 diabetes have to take insulin as well. Some use a needle and syringe, and others use an insulin pen. An insulin pump may also be an option.
Oral or other medications There are several oral and other injected medications on the market to treat diabetes as well. You and your doctor will talk about what is right for you.
Pancreas transplants may be an option for those with Type 1 diabetes, but that would involve working closely with your doctor and other members of your medical team.
Studies have shown that Type 2 diabetics who have undergone gastric bypass surgery have seen tremendous improvements in their blood sugar levels. Again, this option would need to be discussed with your doctor.
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