Seeking balance in Diabetes
Did you know that the body is so wise that always tells when something is wrong?
There has to be a balance between the foods we eat and our blood sugar (glucose) levels, so every cell in our body can have the energy to function properly.
Where does glucose come from?
Our body digests foods and converts them into glucose, which is the body’s main energy source. Blood carries glucose to every cell in your body, to turn it into the “fuel” or energy that our body uses to function properly. Blood glucose levels should always be in balance, to ensure that all of our body’s cells are working well.
What is insulin?
For the glucose in our foods may get into the cells, and we can use it in all of our bodily functions, we need insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas that helps us use food correctly.
Diabetes is caused by an alteration in this process: there’s no insulin or the body doesn’t use it properly, then the glucose that comes from foods can’t be used by our body, glucose remains in the blood and blood glucose levels increase. Diabetes complications are a result of Hyperglycemia – blood glucose levels which are higher than normal – over the years, and reflects the imbalances that occurs in our bodies.
How can I have balance if I have Diabetes?
It’s important to point out that drug treatment on its own isn’t effective, it needs to be paired to a dietary plan, exercise, and self-monitoring of glucose (self-measurement of blood glucose) to provide the desired results. Thus, the key is in balancing all of the variables that rule your life, as we are whole and complete beings. Therefore, you should always think about your diet in connection to insulin or medications, your glucose levels and vice versa, without neglecting other factors that characterize your life, such as physical activity, stress, fun, etc. That is why we need to do everything we can to maintain this balance for as long as possible.
How can I know if the balance is broken?
The only way to know if your glucose and insulin are in balance, is by measuring your blood glucose level at different times of the day, as symptoms don’t indicate exactly, what is happening in our bodies. Some people have no symptoms when their blood glucose levels are above normal, and we know that it can cause progressive damage. Some examples of a lack of balance between glucose and insulin are Hypoglycemia or Hyperglycemia. If insulin is injected, for example, or a drug is taken (insulin activity in the body) and one doesn’t eat (no glucose), they’ll have Hypoglycemia or a low blood sugar level; conversely, if there’s too much glucose (eating too much) without insulin or enough physical activity, then this will facilitate the entry of glucose into the cells, leading to Hyperglycemia (high glucose levels). In both cases the balance will be broken. When there is a proper balance, you obtain good glucose readings, as well as, a sense of wellbeing and a good quality of life; it would be ideal to constantly aim for this balance, either to reach it or keep it.
What is a Diabetes meal plan?
The Diabetes meal plan is a guide that tells you how much and what types of foods you can choose to eat in your meals and snacks. A good meal plan should be personalized. A proper meal plan will help you improve your blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and can also help you maintain your weight within a normal range.
People with Diabetes should take extra care to ensure that their foods are in balance with their insulin or medication, as well as their physical activity, to improve blood glucose levels. This may seem complicated, but your doctor, nutritionist and/or Diabetes educator can help you create a meal plan that is ideal for you. When you make healthy nutritional choices, your health improves, and you can prevent short and long term complications.
There are several tools that can help you follow a Diabetes meal plan. Some are: food pyramid, food classification, exchange lists, and carbohydrate counting. We can also use a combination of some of them.
What is a healthy Diabetes diet?
A healthy diet is a way of eating that reduces the risk of complications in Diabetes. Eating healthy is eating a variety of foods. There’s no perfect food that contains all the nutrients. The key in Diabetes is to make good nutritional choices, which will be appropriate depending on our blood glucose levels, schedule, and physical activity. Everyone, including family and friends, can benefit from a diet selected for a person with Diabetes.
How do I seek individual balance in my everyday life?
The important thing about controlling your Diabetes, is recording the results obtained in your daily glucose measurements at different times of the day. Just like your doctor and/or Diabetes educator have a record of your laboratory tests, you should also keep a record each day, as this is the best tool you’ll have to better understand how your body works in response to the different factors that lead your everyday life, in this way, you will learn how to make better decisions in search for that particular balance in your Diabetes. Help your doctor by helping yourself!
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