Alysa Ferguson, MS, RD, CDCES, Director of Diabetes Education at the Diabetes Education Center at St. Joseph Hospital (Bethpage, NY), shares helpful at-home tips for managing a healthy lifestyle.
What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease caused by insufficient insulin production. If you are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, your body is confusing the insulin-producing cells from the pancreas as foreign intruders. Instead of utilizing those cells, your body attacks and destroys those cells.
Insulin is a hormone that helps lower our blood sugar, which manages energy and fuel. If you have type 1 diabetes, you must monitor your blood sugar levels throughout the day and inject insulin to help regulate your blood glucose. Without the help of insulin, blood sugar can build up in the bloodstream. Contact a diabetes educator who can help you take your insulin as instructed.
What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes differs from type 1 diabetes in a few key ways. Most notably, type 2 diabetes isn’t an autoimmune disease. If you have type 2 diabetes, your pancreas still creates insulin. But your cells don’t respond correctly to it, which causes your pancreas to go into insulin production overdrive and your blood sugar to rise.
It’s more common for adults to have type 2 diabetes; however, more children are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Contributing factors to type 2 diabetes in children under 18 include obesity and inactivity.
Your risk of type 2 diabetes is higher if you:
- Are overweight
- Engage in little to no physical activity
- Have a family history of Type 2 diabetes
- Over 40 years old
You may also have heard of prediabetes—the precursor to type 2 diabetes. It’s a “warning zone,” so to speak. Your A1C blood results are trending toward diabetes, but you haven’t reached the type 2 diabetes threshold yet. With weight loss and lifestyle modifications, reversing prediabetes is possible. However, once you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it cannot be reversed. But it can be managed.
Are you at risk for diabetes?
Our quiz helps you make lifestyle choices that improve your health.
How can I manage diabetes?
The diabetes education experts at Catholic Health are here to offer support, education and help you make small changes that significantly impact your daily life. Our patient-centered programs will help you learn to manage your insulin, count carbohydrates, and create healthy daily lifestyle adjustments.
If you’re looking to get started with at-home diabetes management:
- Check out your beverage shelf and avoid anything sugary. Try to add more water to your daily intake. A good rule of thumb is to divide your weight in half and drink that amount in ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 100 pounds, drink 50 ounces of water daily.
- Create a meal plan for fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and the occasional treat! Anything can fit into a meal plan from time to time.
- Thoughtful food shopping can help set you up for success. We all know not to grocery shop when we’re hungry. Take that one step further and try to create your shopping list before heading into the store. It will help you stay on task and avoid impulse buys. Online grocery shopping is also a great way to cut out picking up foods you may later regret.
- Talk with an expert if you’re concerned about mental health. A diabetes diagnosis—whether type 1 or type 2—is emotional, as is the realization that you now have a lifelong condition to manage. With proper support and education, you can take action and learn how to control your diabetes effectively.
How do I check my blood glucose levels?
Ask your physician to order an A1C test to check your blood glucose level. This simple test can give you critical insights into your health and inspire you to take action.