I’ve learned the power of language after speaking with Sara Bosch De Noya, the Diabetes Educator at the Bermuda Diabetes Association (BDA). I now know to not say a “diabetic person” but rather “a person with diabetes”. This puts the individual first, ahead of the condition. Oh, and it’s not a “compliant” person, it’s an “engaged” person.
This after a conversation about knowing your risk and response, types of sugars, and meal planning. It all seems like a lot to take in. Near the end of our conversation, I ask, “Well, what should we be eating?”
She laughs, “The way we all should be eating!” Well, that’s simple enough. Anything from the Mediterranean diet, to a plant-based approach, to eating healthy carbs and reducing portion sizes would greatly aid in the battle against diabetes. There’s no one fixed approach – there’s a variety of paths to a successful outcome.
Yes, there are plenty of guidelines and suggestions out there about how to combat the chronic disease of diabetes. Since diabetes affects how your body turns food into energy, obviously what you eat is a critical piece to prevention and management of diabetes. However, Sara encourages a rethink around how we look at, speak on, and respond to diabetes.
Firstly, “Know your risk. Know your response.” This is a succinct way of encouraging folk to be aware of their medical history and how their lifestyle might impact them in this area. Secondly, if you were to find out you are at risk for, or even outright have diabetes, what’s your plan? Remember, sometimes there are no symptoms at all, so just be mindful of the fact that simply living here in Bermuda may have an impact on your risk.
Once sugars have been elevated for a while, and certainly with type 1 diabetes, there are classic symptoms that are noticeable – these are the “Four T’s”. The BDA wants the general public to be aware of the symptoms about what can quickly become a life-threatening condition.
THE “FOUR T’S”:
Thirsty: Being really thirsty and not being able to quench the thirst. Some signs of unusual thirst may include regularly getting up to drink during the night, drinking a full glass and still being very thirsty, and having only gaps between bouts of thirst.
Toilet: Needing to visit the toilet more often than usual, going during the night when you usually don’t, or having very short breaks between going to the toilet are all potential symptoms.
Tired: Feeling more tired than usual. When the body lacks insulin, cells of the body cannot take in glucose from the blood for energy which can leave the body tired and unnourished.
Thin: A lack of insulin means the body cannot get enough glucose from the blood into cells and so the body starts to break down fat and muscle into ketones to use as an alternative source of energy.
Blurred vision is another common factor to consider. Don’t think it’s just getting older or staring at your computer screen – get checked out as it’s better to be safe than sorry.
But take heart! There are lifestyle adjustments that everyone can make. Healthy food choices, being physically active, controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol, managing stress, and eating well are all major influences on how well you live.
Food is the key to managing diabetes and reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other problems. There are many things you can do to improve your diet, but it’s important to avoid trying to change too many things at once.
Pick one or two of the following things you can do today to help you plan for healthier meals, then build from there. Watch your portions, eat healthy carbohydrates, eat more whole foods eat more vegetables and fruit, limit sugars and sweets, choose ‘good’ fats, drink water, and plan your meals ahead of time. These go a long way in helping you reach your goals.
All in all, the good folk at the BDA simply want you to live your best life. Visit them anytime, either in person or online, for great resources on how to live well as a person with diabetes. In the meantime, check out the sidebar to add to your repertoire of good eating and continue to live well!