MANILA, Philippines – Managing diabetes requires a vigilant effort, from monitoring blood sugar and taking medications to making healthy food choices and being active. It can be a daily challenge that often leaves people with diabetes feeling overwhelmed and stressed by the constant demands of managing their condition.
While there are many factors that people with diabetes must consider on a daily basis, nutrition is a key area that can help them take control of their health and make a positive impact on their lives.
Riding emotional waves
People with diabetes can experience an emotional journey navigating their condition. That journey begins when they first hear their diagnosis. When they find out they have diabetes, it can be a whirlwind of emotions of sadness or denial, guilt or shame that they may have done this to themselves, so they feel like they are alone in the fight.
Diabetes is a complex condition that requires daily self-monitoring. People with diabetes need to constantly think about their condition and plan ahead. They need to monitor their blood sugar levels regularly to make sure their numbers are not too high or too low. They need to learn about healthy eating, such as how to count carbs, make meal plans, and read food nutrition labels.
They also need to find ways to be active, as exercise can help manage blood sugar and have a positive effect on overall health. This constant management and the day-to-day decisions required can be overwhelming.
People with diabetes can also experience feelings of failure and frustration during the journey. For example, they may feel like a failure if they ate a food that caused their blood sugar to rise, or if they forgot to eat and their blood sugar dropped. They may feel frustrated because they don’t have the freedom to eat the foods they want, or because they have to constantly think about their diabetes several times a day.
In addition, people with diabetes are learning that if their condition is not managed, it can lead to more serious health complications such as stroke, kidney disease, eye damage or blindness, and foot complications that can cause additional pressure and stress.
For all these reasons, the quality of life of people with diabetes can deteriorate. In fact, a study found that 4 out of 5 adults with type 2 diabetes said their quality of life was affected by their condition.1 That is why diabetes is associated with negative effects on work life, health, family life, sex life, eating habits and future prospects.2
While managing blood sugar is important, maintaining or improving quality of life is critical to well-being. Research shows that following a meal plan is associated with a better quality of life for people with diabetes, including self-confidence and freedom to eat and drink.3
By learning about the role of food and nutrition in diabetes management, individuals can help themselves improve their dietary freedom.
By talking to a health care professional, such as a registered dietitian nutritionist, or taking a diabetes nutrition course at their hospital or health care provider, people with diabetes will learn that eating healthy doesn’t have to sacrifice good food.
It can be as simple as making healthy food swaps or creating healthy habits. For example, use brown rice instead of white rice, drink water instead of soda, or simply reduce portion sizes.
As part of a lifestyle intervention, glycerol has been shown to help manage blood glucose levels and give people with diabetes the freedom to change their meals or snacks to curb hunger.4
People with diabetes can also learn and develop healthy coping skills to manage the effects of their condition. For example, being active can have the double benefit of helping people regulate their blood sugar and improving people’s mood.5
While people with diabetes go through many emotions trying to manage their condition, positive lifestyle choices such as healthy eating and exercise can help manage diabetes, improve mood, and improve their quality of life.
1. Wang HF, Yeh MC. Qual Life Res. 2013;22(3):577-584.
2. Papazafiropoulou AK and others. BMC Res Notes. 2015;8:786.
3. Alcubierre N et al. Health quality of life outcomes. 2016;14:1-6.
4. Devitt et al. Clinical Nutrition Week. 2014.A68.
5. Chekroud SR et al. Lancet Psychiatry. 2018;5:739-746.
ASC reference no. A079P072722GS