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How People With Diabetes Can Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle, According to Experts

Every year, 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. If you or someone you love is newly diagnosed, you’re probably experiencing a lot of emotions and receiving a lot of rapid-fire new information from doctors and your support system. You might be wondering, “What do I do now?” and “How am I supposed to keep track of everything?” The good news is, you’re not alone. In 2018, it was recorded that 34.2 million Americans, or 10.5% of the population, had diabetes — and there are numerous ways you can stay on top of your healthcare needs, find vital information and advice and get some support to keep living your life. 

“Getting the diagnosis that you have diabetes can be a tough one,” says Dr. Seema Sarin, MD, Director of Lifestyle Medicine, EHE Health. “However, it is not a terminal diagnosis. There are many ways in which you can actively manage the condition.”

Managing diabetes and incorporating it as part of your lifestyle, whether you have Type 1 or Type 2, can be overwhelming at first. Thankfully there are some tools and best practices that can help. One such key tool is an integrated, continuous glucose monitoring device (CGM). Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre 2 system is the only integrated CGM system available that continuously measures glucose data every minute with customizable, optional real-time alarms to alert users when their glucose is high or low without scanning or painful fingersticks. This technology is available for children (ages 4 and older) and adults with diabetes, and monitors glucose levels for up to 14 days1, providing trends, insights and actionable data. With access to this type of information on your glucose levels, you’re able to rest assured that you’re making smart choices for your health.

We spoke with experts — doctors, people living with diabetes and their caregivers — to break down some of the best tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle when you have diabetes. Here are a few pointers to get you started.

Be aware of your glucose levels and take your medication

“Managing diabetes is a balancing act. You need to balance your exercise, diet and medication. It can be easy to brush aside the importance of taking your medication routinely, but it is one of the fundamental parts of helping you maintain a healthy lifestyle, which can help you understand and possibly even predict trends in your glucose levels.”

— Dr. Seema Sarin, MD, Director of Lifestyle Medicine, EHE Health.

Find the right tools

“When you have diabetes, what you eat and how you nourish your body and how you manage your levels — that’s an everyday practice, holiday or not. It’s just a matter of having the tools that help you manage it. And for me, that is definitely my Abbott FreeStyle Libre 2 system. This is the tool that I use to help me make informed decisions about where my glucose levels are. It made me more mindful and I really needed that.”

Alysse D., founder of Ready to Stare

Keep a healthy and active lifestyle  

“A healthy and active lifestyle is important for individuals with diabetes. My son has Type 1 Diabetes and staying active in sports has been a great contributor to his overall health. Thanks to football, he’s been able to get in good workouts and exercise at least three to four times a week. For those who may not have the discipline to exercise daily or weekly on their own, having accountability from a friend or in my son’s case, a team, can be really beneficial.

In addition to an active lifestyle, keeping my son healthy through his diet and wellness appointments has been crucial. We focus on proper nutrition and low carb alternatives as much as possible, while also understanding he is a child and enjoying his favorites here and there in moderation is normal and fine.”

— Shalyce Tyson, founder of ShalyceTyson.com

Manage your stress

“Take time for yourself and be mindful of stress. If you are stressed, take a time out and find ways to calm yourself down. Make sure you add some sort of exercise into your routine. I love walking on our treadmill at least once a day. Even a quick five-to-10 minute walk can show huge benefits mentally and physically.

If you can, I recommend eating whole foods and limiting processed foods. In my experience, the type of food you consume is more important than the amount of carbs in the food (as long as you know how to bolus for them!). The glycemic index of food is definitely a helpful tool when figuring out what foods work for you and what foods don’t.”

— Amanda R., founder of The Chambray Bunny

Meal plan and reach out for support

“Make meal plans. This helps me stay organized with shopping. Maintain regular meal times. Set alarms on the phone for busy days when it can be easy to skip or delay. In terms of diet, I stick to fresh and green. I avoid juices. I make salad a compulsory part of every meal. I take care not to have long gaps between meals. I minimize processed foods and avoid white flour. I shop local and eat what is in season. While I love coffee, water is my beverage of choice. I follow the diabetes plate method — fill half with non-starchy vegetables (salads), one-fourth with protein (sprouts and lentils), one-fourth with starchy vegetable or whole grain (Indian flat bread made with multigrain or millet flour). Depending on my calorie goals, I add a serving of fruit or dairy (usually yogurt). I always carry some almonds, walnuts, an apple, a water bottle and my medication in my handbag.

Yes, it takes determination and discipline, but it is not all that difficult. I am part of a diabetes group where we interact regularly and share our experience and motivate one another.”

— Vidya Sury, founder of Collecting Smiles

This article was created by SheKnows for Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre 2 system.

About Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre 2 system:

The FreeStyle Libre 2 system includes a self-applied sensor (the size of two-stacked quarters) that is the easiest glucose sensor to apply1 and worn on the back of the upper arm, eliminating the need for painful fingersticks to test glucose levels.‡ Easily check your glucose levels with a painless2 one-second scan instead of a fingerstick.

WARNINGS/LIMITATIONS*: The System must not be used with automated insulin dosing (AID) systems, including closed loop and insulin suspend systems. Remove the sensor before MRI, CT scan, X-ray, or diathermy treatment. Do not take high doses of Vitamin C (more than 500mg per day), as this may falsely raise your Sensor readings. Failure to use the System according to the instructions for use may result in missing a severe low blood glucose or high blood glucose event and/or making a treatment decision that may result in injury. If glucose alarms and readings from the System do not match symptoms or expectations, use a fingerstick blood glucose value to make diabetes treatment decisions. Seek medical attention when appropriate and contact Abbott Toll Free (855-632-8658) or visit* www.freestylelibre.us for detailed indications for use and safety information.

*For full indications for use and safety information, see more here.

Notifications will only be received when alarms are turned on and the sensor is within 20 feet of the reading device

Fingersticks are required if your glucose alarms and readings do not match symptoms or when you see Check Blood Glucose symbol in the first twelve hours.

1FreeStyle Libre 2 System User Manual.

2Haak T, et al. Flash glucose-sensing technology as a replacement for blood glucose monitoring for the management of insulin-treated type 2 diabetes: a multicentre, open-label randomised controlled trial. Diabetes Ther. 2017;8(1):55-73.

 

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