The Explosion of Diabetes—How can we avoid becoming a number?

Friday, May 4, 2018
We read it all the time in the newspaper. The incidence of diabetes is increasing. More and more people everyday are being diagnosed with diabetes…even more as pre-diabetic. According to the CDC this translates into 100 million people in the US currently living with diabetes or diagnosed as having prediabetes. Over 1.5 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed every year!

The statistics provided by the American Diabetes Association:

Prevalence: In 2015, 30.3 million Americans, or 9.4% of the population, had diabetes. Approximately 1.25 million American children and adults have type1diabetes.

Undiagnosed: Of the 30.3 million adults with diabetes, 23.1 million were diagnosed, and 7.2 million were undiagnosed.

Prevalence in Seniors: The percentage of Americans age 65 and older remains high, at 25.2%, or 12.0 million seniors (diagnosed and undiagnosed).

New Cases: 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year.

Prediabetes: In 2015, 84.1 million Americans age 18 and older had prediabetes.

Deaths: Diabetes remains the 7th leading cause of death in the United States in 2015, with 79,535 death certificates listing it as the underlying cause of death, and a total of 252,806 death certificates listing diabetes as an underlying or contributing cause of death.

How this translated into my personal journey:

Like so many, I have struggled with my weight most of my life. It wasn’t until I reached my forties that the consequences of being overweight started showing up in my health screenings. My blood sugar levels were too high. I was labeled pre-diabetic. Yipes! I couldn’t quite get my head around it. I felt like I was eating well and I worked out on a treadmill every morning during the work week, but I knew I was also a busy mom with 3 kids, with a demanding job and lots of volunteer commitments. There was plenty of stress, late nights, and wrong eating choices being made regularly because of it. It was my kids that were ultimately my motivator. It hasn’t been easy and there has been so much learning a long the way. In fact, I created a healthy lifestyle company because of all that I have learned and wanted to share! Now I can share that my blood sugar levels are within the normal range and I am no longer labeled with prediabetes. I am still at risk, however, because I remain over weight (although 50 pounds down from where I started). Always more to work on!

Is there a way to break down the barriers to managing diabetes?

How to find out what to eat-

There are so many great resources now that teach us how to navigate what we need to eat, give us concrete examples, and inspire us to try out new foods and recipes. The key terms to learn about are carbs (carbohydrates), glycemic index and glycemic load.

Mainly the more processed the food is the higher the number of grams of carbs. So fresher is better. Whole grains and lean meats are also on the list. My new favorite source for inspiration is the diabeticfoodie.

How to afford better foods, fresh foods and a healthier living environment-

There are more and more ways to access fresh foods and keep costs down. There are community gardens in most cities. Eating foods that are in season is a great way to provide fresh foods, usually grown locally, at the lowest cost. A great trick is to go to the farmers market at the end of the day and barter for discounted pricing on their remaining stock.

Sometimes farmers will even give you their “seconds” for next to nothing or free, just for asking. I have done this personally. Also, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are a way to manage cost while focusing on the healthiest foods in an affordable way when fresh foods may be out of season and therefore more expensive.

Where to find the support you need-

Once upon a time we had to rely solely on our primary doctor and the clinic nutritionist. Now there are many groups and resources available on line to help us in the ways we need. You can find a dietitian through to work with locally or online who has the expertise related to your health needs. There are groups you can get involved with to give and get ongoing help and camaraderie (i.e.: The CDC has a nationwide Diabetes Prevention Program that is community-based to help with ongoing lifestyle changes.

Where it all starts—with a healthy lifestyle-

There is no way around it. Living healthy is going to require change in the way we live our lives. We can’t keep doing the same things over and over again and expect better results. We have to discover what living well for us means. It includes healthy activities, more exercise, more sleep, drinking more water, laughing out loud everyday, hugging the ones we love, distressing positively, eating healthier foods in right-sized amounts and really working on our bucket list.

When do we need to start getting educated, being mindful, and living a healthy lifestyle?

Now is a good time. It also starts with our children. In order to keep our children from becoming a number they need to learn and explore what it means to eat healthy and live well. We need to engage them in healthy activities, helping prepare nourishing meals, as well as help them learn the best ways for them to become their healthiest selves. The best way for them to learn this is by our example. A healthy lifestyle is good for all of us.

Embracing a healthy lifestyle does have to be a choice. You do have to believe you are worth it because you have to invest time and energy into making it happen. You also have to prioritize how you spend your money. This isn’t always easy. It requires a vision of what you want your life to look like, discipline and perseverance to make progress, and a community you can count on to support you on your journey to being your healthiest you.

Download our FREE Managing Your  Diabetes Through Portion Control eBook!

Once upon a time, quite a while ago at this point, I was a Peace Corps volunteer. Our motto and mission was “helping people help themselves.” I took this mission to heart. There were two important things I learned, though, on my journey to help others. You can’t help others if you don’t even know how to help yourself. It starts with you. And you can never help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves.

As we face the pandemic of diabetes we need to see it as our own personal reality. If we want change we have to be the agent of that change and be willing to change ourselves. Even small changes can have a big impact long term. And by making those changes we are helping others do the same. It is only with all of us working together to live healthier and create a healthier community that we will stop the rampant advance of diabetes.

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Let’s do this! And let’s do it together. And as I like to say let’s do it with ‘one healthier bite at a time!’ We can also have some fun a long the way. Come join me and my husband, Walt, each 4th Tuesday of the Month on Facebook Live as we tackle recipes, give tips on how to make cooking easier and more enjoyable, and how to make healthy home cooking more manageable.

Like our Facebook page and sign up for video notifications so you can follow along with us on this healthy lifestyle journey we are all on.

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To your health! And as always, remember to Live Vibrant!

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