New Diabetics: Be Proactive and Know Thyself!

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If you are among the many thousands of African Americans who are newly diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, you are part of growing population, dominated by black youth who now have the disease. It’s likely that poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle got you where you are, but don’t despair, you don’t have to stay there!

Diabetes can develop into a nightmare when left unchecked or managed badly. Out of control blood sugar that stays too high or yo–yo’s up and down is highly undesirable. Peaks and valleys cause fatigue, anxiety and depression and strain the major organs of the body. Blood sugar levels that are too high actually cause Diabetes while levels that are too low cause hypoglycemia. How can you stay even board?

Well certainly not with the same African American diet that made you Diabetic! That’s the diet full of fattening, high–sugar empty carbohydrates found in sweets and fast foods and the diet that offers huge portions of food during every meal or snack. It’s also the diet that told you it was okay to eat these foods any time of the day or night. Kiss those poor eating habits goodbye.

And certainly not with the sedentary lifestyle that offered you no exercise at all. You probably spent many long hours sitting at a desk at work and even longer hours sitting in front of the television or computer at home each evening. Weekends may have meant more of the same or were full of errands that kept you busy, but offered your body no meaningful workout. Kiss that lifestyle marked by immobility goodbye as well.

For black people and others, managing Diabetes effectively means first knowing yourself! Your own illness is the best reason to become a health expert! As a Diabetic you share many symptoms and risks with others, but your Diabetic profile is unique. The way Diabetes affects you is finely tuned to who you are and how you live. So Diabetics, first, know thyself!

We’ve already mentioned the basics – tight control of blood sugar levels, maintaining a lean, low carbohydrate diet and getting plenty of exercise. These are the three "must haves" for any Diabetic. But how you incorporate these "must haves" into your unique lifestyle is uniquely your call. And how you respond to your body’s need for more or less food, more or less exercise or more or less rest, is also unique to you.

Sit with yourself and listen. How does your body feel before and after exercise, before and after eating, before and after resting, before and after medication? Learn to listen to your body to know the warning signs of low blood sugar – what triggers a response in you may differ from the next Diabetic.

Make your physician and his or her professional staff your best friends. Ideally your doctor should be your first line of information, guidance and support. You must feel comfortable enough to express concerns, questions and issues of importance to you and you must believe and respect what your doctor tells you. If you find it difficult to establish this kind of relationship with your present physician, it may be time for a change.

Prepare yourself for intelligent dialogue with your medical team by staying informed on your own. Diabetes is at epidemic levels in this country, so it’s often in the news. Learn the vocabulary and terminology of your disease. Use the Internet, public library and gather free pamphlets and brochures available at your drug store to stay on top of breaking news.

Don’t overlook your pharmacist as another helpful resource. He or she is also a skilled professional who can counsel you on disease symptoms and medication side effects.

If you are Diabetic, be proactive. Be positive. Don’t be depressed. It’s a serious disease, but you can control your Diabetes and live a long and healthy life!

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