The National Institutes of Health designates November as National Diabetes Month, and this year its focus is on the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease (see information here and the image below) because individuals with diabetes are likely to have heart disease or stroke.
In addition to encouraging you to see your doctor for an updated exam and lab work, I like to highlight the good news: Did you know diabetes can be managed to prevent complications? Increasing your physical activity just a little bit, making just a few healthful food changes, and monitoring your blood sugar can make a huge difference. I know sometimes people get overwhelmed thinking about the “should’s” of diabetes management: I should exercise, I should go on a diet, I should skip holiday dinners. But it doesn’t have to be that hard.
If you have type 1 diabetes, talk to your doctor and dietitian about balancing your insulin, food and activity with your lifestyle to maintain your blood sugar.
If you have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, determine if you need to lose weight. Just a 5% weight loss can reduce your blood sugar and your cardiovascular disease markers; that means losing 10 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds. To me, that is certainly more reasonable and realistic than thinking about needing to lose 20, 30 or even 40 pounds. If you do need to lose weight, add a 30 minute walk daily along with smaller portion sizes at every meal and snack. Those, too, are reasonable and realistic changes!
Just One Thing To Do: Instead of being overwhelmed, focus on small, reasonable lifestyle changes to feel better and prevent complications.