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National Diabetes Month: Living well with diabetes

Body, Diabetes, Show on Corporate Home

About one in 10 Americans are living with a diabetes diagnosis. What’s more, over one-third of adults in the U.S. have prediabetes, or elevated blood sugar levels that are not quite in the diabetes range—yet. With so many Americans dealing with diabetes, it’s important to know how to manage the condition effectively.

It’s all about choices

Katie Devany, nurse practitioner with Adventist Health Medical Office - Sheridan, emphasizes that effective diabetes management boils down to making the right choices. “Just like you wake up every morning and choose what to wear, you make small choices every day about how to manage your diabetes.”

One of the most essential pieces of education is making sure that patients understand how their dietary choices affect their blood sugar. For example, pairing carbohydrates with protein helps ensure you’re your blood sugar doesn’t spike after a snack. “Many people think that diabetes means they’ll never be able to eat what they like again,” Devany says. “And that doesn’t have to be true. My goal is to give patients a set of principles and knowledge so that they can be in control of the condition.”

Simple management tools

Many people find that simply writing down what they eat throughout the day can uncover valuable insights. Devany notes that one of her patients lost seven pounds after simply starting a food journal. “The act of writing down what you eat helps with accountability,” Devany says. “But this patient also found value in journaling about why they made the food choices they did. For many people, feelings influence what they eat. Because this patient was also journaling about their emotions and moods, they were able to learn how their feelings inform food choices and then work on changing some of those behaviors.”

Managing diabetes with dietary choices can even affect the type or amount of medication a person needs. Exercising consistently, lowering stress and quitting smoking are also critical strategies for living a healthy life with diabetes.

Communication is key

Devany emphasizes that patient-provider communication is crucial. She encourages all her patients to use the Adventist Health patient portal so that they have an easy method of contacting her with questions or concerns.

“It’s important that your healthcare provider is not someone you’re afraid of,” Devany notes. “I’m here to help give my patients information and guide them to make the best decisions for their life. Patients should feel empowered to get the help they need.”