Managing Diabetes

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With the relaxation of the COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs), many are transitioning back to near pre-pandemic normalcy to resume many social and economic activities. As people continue to practice diligence, people with chronic and non-communicable diseases especially must be more aware of their health and well-being while making the most of the flexibility to access and establish healthier lifestyle habits – including good food, facilities, and healthcare.
People living with diabetes for example are required to be mindful of their condition when socializing outside. While it is easy to get excited by the food and places to sight-see, they should be careful not to exert themselves or give in to peer and environmental pressure like overeating, joining extensive physical activities, or forgetting to eat. 
“People living with diabetes were in better control and made effort to reflect positive changes in self-care and diabetes management during the lockdown,” Dr. Manoharan Paranjothy, a Consultant in Primary Care and Pharmaceutical Medicine who is a panel doctor on Abbott’s Glucerna Lifestyle Change Programme said.
“The return to the office, gatherings or travel means they may now be more occupied with social plans and become less attentive to maintaining these good lifestyle habits.”
However, he said this new phase should be used to cultivate new habits and lifestyle changes that enable individuals living with diabetes to adjust safely to the new normal which includes:

Practice Mindful and Intuitive Eating When Dining Out

Meal planning remains an integral part of diabetes management to help one lead a healthy life and keep their blood sugar levels in check. For those who are new to meal planning, it is advisable to start out with the plate method, which is widely known as the #SukuSukuSeparuh or Quarter Quarter Half concept, to identify whether a meal is healthy and balanced. 
People with diabetes who wish to make more informed decisions in meal planning can also engage certified diabetes educators, dietitians, nutritionists, or doctors to plot out a simple meal planner to create a healthier long-term eating pattern. Often, diabetes-specific formulas such as Abbott’s Glucerna are recommended to be incorporated into a healthy eating plan, as it helps to manage glucose levels in as soon as four weeks by reducing glucose fluctuations when used as a part of lifestyle interventions. 

Introduce Active Movements or Exercise Routine to Stay in Range 

Physical activity is known for its many benefits and can help reduce the amount of glucose present in the blood and thus, improve insulin sensitivity throughout the body. Regardless of one’s age and blood sugar status, there’s strong scientific evidence that being physically active can help to reduce the risk of developing long-term and insulin resistance-related complications, such as cardiovascular disease and strokes. It is also a great way to keep your body in shape and manage your weight. 
Introduce 15–20-minute active movements into your everyday life, even if they are not in the form of structured workouts for a start. For example, going on a quick coffee run, gardening, or scheduling a weekly walkabout with friends can help maintain your overall functional strength and mobility. Subsequently aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week, in bouts lasting at least 10 minutes or more, with a goal of at least 30 minutes per day. Otherwise, one could also aim for 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week. Examples of moderate-intensity exercise include brisk walking, dancing, tennis, or biking.
“Try to form support groups that encourage exercise regimen as part of the daily routine, while considering food and insulin intake to prevent hyper- or hypoglycemia.
“Involvement from family members to participate in your diabetes management journey can also serve as a great form of motivation when done together,” Dr. Manoharan said.

Travel Smart and Plan Meals in Advance to Avoid Unneeded Hunger

While it is exciting to finally dust off your travel bags and passport, it is essential to plan your trips ahead and schedule a visit with a doctor to ensure you are fit for the journey. For travelers planning to visit destinations where medical resources can be scarce, it is highly recommended to prepare extra supplies and a letter from your doctor explaining that you have diabetes. 
Avoid leaving your body hungry and eat well before your long-haul flight. Make sure to also pack diabetes-friendly snacks like almonds, cheese, whole-grain crackers, or Glucerna Vanilla ready-to-drink as your emergency food bank while on the move. Plan your journey ahead and avoid extreme physical journeys that could throw off your blood sugar level and remember to listen to your body to get enough rest during your journey. 

Dr Manoharan Paranjothy. Supplied.

Monitor Blood Glucose Levels at Regular Intervals 

Regular blood sugar monitoring is one of the most important routines to help paint a clearer picture of the patients’ glucose patterns and identify potential issues.
“Thankfully, Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) technologies such as Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre offer an easy, painless, and on-the-go solution to diabetes self-management, allowing users to check and track their glucose levels in just seconds
“The first group has a higher sense of health awareness and diligently conducts self-monitoring while the other tends to be less consistent by obtaining their blood sugar reading from pharmacists from time to time.”
He reminds people to confirm the right cadence with a doctor as it can range between 4-10 times a day depending on the person’s condition.

March Into the New Normal with Mindfulness 

Malaysia is making a big stride in helping the people to transition into the new normal and allow for flexibility that enables us to run our lives and economic activities as before.
However, we should continue to practice diligence, especially when living with conditions like diabetes and take the necessary steps to plan our lifestyle around effective diabetes management.
Speak to your doctor today and apply the steps or thinking we shared in this article to develop a holistic diabetes management plan and be in better control of diabetes!

About the author: This article was contributed by Abbott Malaysia. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this publication.

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