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Getting out of a Diabetes Rut

A diabetes educator’s tips for getting unstuck

In a recent article, I shared several ways that can help you determine if you are in a diabetes rut – that is, if your diabetes care is stuck at a level that is not serving you well. Here are some tips that may help you move from this rut toward better diabetes care.

Improve your mood

People living with diabetes are at a greater risk of developing depression. (Some professionals even use the combined term “diapression.”) If you’re feeling it, it may be harder to achieve your health goals. You might also have diabetes-related distress, which is a strong negative response to the challenges of living with diabetes, a chronic disease that is with you every moment of your life. For example, if you have diabetes-related distress, you might spend an unhelpful amount of time worrying that your blood glucose level will go too low. If you believe you are depressed or have diabetes-related distress, meet with a mental health professional to help you perceive your diabetes self-care tasks in a new, more positive way.

It can be helpful for people with diabetes to meet with a mental health practitioner as soon as possible after being diagnosed. This expert can help you deal with the negative impact that having diabetes may have on your life, relationships and goals. Even if you feel fine, introduce yourself to a therapist so you can keep his or her phone number handy if anything challenging arises.

Increase your energy level

If your blood glucose level swings up and down or tends to stay outside of your target range, you may feel fatigued. It takes energy to explore new ways to care for your diabetes. Speak with your healthcare team members. They can help you learn ways to control your blood glucose level more effectively. They can also teach you how to interpret your blood glucose monitoring at home, so you can use this information to make better eating and activity decisions. Once your glucose level begins to stay in a healthier range, you are likely to feel more energized.

(Learn more about diabetes self-management training and education.)

Seek out a community

A great way to get out of a rut is to interact with others who are living with diabetes and hear some of their positive experiences. Contact your local hospital or American Diabetes Association office to see if they have a diabetes support group you can attend.

There are also groups that interact online. If you participate in an online forum, you are likely to hear great information mixed with some that may be unreliable or even dangerous. Speak to a member of your healthcare team before trying any suggestions you learn from the Internet. Remember, the people who offer their advice don’t know you or your medical needs. Also be wary of anything that sounds too good to be true. One patient living with type 1 diabetes told me that he heard that he could stop taking his insulin if he ate more carrots! That suggestion was not only wrong, it was dangerous. Discuss any advice you’d like to use with your healthcare team before you try it.

Check out “what’s new”

When was the last time you had a diabetes “tune-up”? Much has changed over the past few years. For instance, some people living with type 2 diabetes now wear continuous glucose monitors, which can help them stay on top of blood glucose changes as they occur. New treatment options may also be available since you last discussed the topic with your care team. At the very least, you may find it helpful to learn how to use your smartphone to count carbohydrates and monitor your progress. Your healthcare team can share information about these tools.

Keep a journal

Jot down questions and concerns that come up as you go through your day, and discuss them with your healthcare team. You can also make a note of activities you’d like to do more often.  For example, if you feel great after a walk, remind yourself to search for more walking opportunities. When you have a moment, look back on those entries and inspire yourself!

Janis Roszler, MS, RD, LD/N, CDE*, FAND, is the American Association of Diabetes Educators 2008-09 Diabetes Educator of the Year. She is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and marriage and family therapist. Her books include Sex and Diabetes, The Secrets of Living and Loving with Diabetes and, co-authored with Wendy Satin Rapaport, PhD, Approaches to Behavior: Changing the Dynamic Between Patients and Professionals in Diabetes Education. Roszler is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.

*“Certified Diabetes Educator” and “CDE” are certification marks owned and registered by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE). NCBDE is not affiliated in any way with Sanofi US. NCBDE does not sponsor or endorse any diabetes-related products or services.

© 2015 The DX: The Diabetes Experience

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