Authored by Rev. Donna Smith-Pupillo
Nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. Another 79 million Americans have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. It is estimated that each year the total health care costs for those with diabetes is $245 billion dollars. The American Diabetes Association has designated November as Diabetes Awareness Month. Deaconess Faith Community Nurse Ministries joins in the campaign to communicate the importance of treating and preventing diabetes.
Personally, Diabetes is a disease that has affected my father, who had Type 2 diabetes for many years and died at age 70 with complications. A few years ago, I was told I was pre-diabetic and needed to lose weight. I learned that simple changes could reroute the course to diabetes, so I made them and lost 100 pounds to reduced my risk. The changes were simple: choose healthy food and exercise daily.
Now, I know that these changes aren’t easy in a fast paced, fast food world; however, I learned to make the changes necessary by doing the following steps, one day at a time:
- Set a goal to add or change one part of a meal. For me, I started by changing one piece at a time. For example, I chose not to eat a donut for breakfast, but rather ate a whole wheat bagel with almond butter.
- Know your risks of diabetes because the disease has a familial genetic component. In my family, my father, sister, and both of my paternal grandparents have or had diabetes. My motivation to keep making the small changes in my diet and exercise routine was that I learned my risk and did not want to suffer like them.
- Know your individual signs and symptoms of diabetes. If you do not know the signs and symptoms, visit the American Diabetes website at stopdiabetes.com.
- Gradualy incorporate 30 minutes of exercise in your everyday schedule. It is important to find an exercise that is enjoyable because you will be more likely to do it again. Personally, I like swimming and spinning, but that might not be for you. Instead you might like walking with someone for 30 minutes or doing a Zumba class. Whatever it is, make an effort to do it consistently.
- Keep a written log of what you are doing everyday. Writing down what you are eating makes you more mindful of what you are putting into your body, and logging when and what you are doing for exercise helps you keep on doing it consistently. The log serves as a way to be accountable for the changes you are making.
Making simple changes slowly adds up to reduce your risk for diabetes. To learn more about ways a Faith Community nurse can help you and others make simple changes in reducing your risk in developing diabetes, contact me at Rev. Donna Pupillo at firstname.lastname@example.org.