Making Lasting Lifestyle Changes With Type 2 Diabetes. Part 2

Diabetes |

Wahida Karmally, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and a diabetes educator, couldn’t agree more.

“These are lifetime habits that formed over many years, and people aren’t going to change them overnight. Instead of telling someone to lose 40 pounds, which is only setting them up for failure, start with 8 to 10 pounds. Even a 5 percent weight loss is significant for diabetes control,” said Karmally, a registered dietician and associate research scientist at Columbia University.

Breaking Barriers
To help patients begin changing their habits, Karmally starts by asking what their barriers are and helping them find a way to work around those.

For some people, it’s simply that they find the foods they’re eating bland. Karmally gives them advice on seasoning and cooking foods, even frozen microwave dishes. For those who say they can’t live without cheeseburgers and fries, she suggests starting with a change to plain hamburgers and salads.

Some people need to learn how to correctly monitor their blood sugar levels, which Karmally says is an absolute necessity to prevent long-term complications, such as loss of vision and limbs, or kidney failure. Diabetes educators are skilled at instructing patients on testing blood sugar levels, and learning what to do if blood sugar is high or low.

Others tell Karmally they just can’t get motivated to exercise. In that case, she encourages them to pursue an activity they enjoy, such as swimming, walking or bicycling. Or maybe it’s as simple as dragging that treadmill up from the basement, putting it near the television and watching their favorite show as they walk in place. After all, she says, you have to enjoy the exercise to continue it over the long haul.

Zrebiec advises patients to treat themselves now and then if they can manage it without losing control.

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