Valuable tips shared at diabetes class

by Lisa Luna, Lifestyles Editor, Pleasanton Express26p3.preview

As a way of bringing attention to the ever-growing disease of diabetes, November is recognized nationwide as Diabetes Awareness Month.

On Monday, Nov. 23, one of the weekly installments in the "Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes" series was held at the Atascosa Health Center. The program focused on "Beyond the Diet: Improving Your Blood Glucose Control with Medication."

Linda Harper, a Methodist Healthcare Ministries' Wesley Nurse who serves at First United Methodist Church in Pleasanton and Dru Benavides, Family & Consumer Science County Agent with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, presented the informative session.

Understanding diabetes medication

Harper shared that whether it is to start pills, or to start insulin, you should not wait longer than 3 months if your glucose is out of the recommended range. Allowing high blood glucose while trying harder with diet and physical activity or pills when you need insulin raises the risk for complications.

She also emphasized that not being diagnosed as having diabetes does not protect you from accumulating damage and complications. Also, having high blood glucose and not feeling badly does not protect your from complications.

"High blood glucose takes a long time to produce symptoms that make you feel badly," said Harper. "The damage is due to a higher blood glucose that keeps adding up."

Harper also said that people's blood sugar levels affect them differently. In other words, some people can tell when their blood sugar is low. Then there are others with low levels who feel fine. This can be dangerous for situations in which the diabetic may be driving or say, walking alone in the park.

Some argue that they cannot take medication because it is too expensive. However, said Harper and Benavides, so are complications. There are prescription assistance programs and coupons available. Patients should let their doctor know if cost is a concern.

Insulin is added when the A1c level is over 7 percent or when blood glucose is consistently not within the recommended ranges.

"Don't want too long to start insulin. Too many wait," said Harper.

It was also recommended that diabetics, whether you are on insulin or not, wear an ID bracelet or necklace.

Meals away from home

Enjoying foods and meals away from home requires preparation and having a plan. When meals are delayed for more than one hour, have a carbohydrate choice snack, like a piece of fruit, at your regular mealtime. Later, eat the remaining carb choice at your delayed meal.

What if you are eating a meal earlier than usual? For early meals greater than one hour before your normal mealtime, eat few carbohydrate choices. Save either 1 to 2 carbohydrate choices for your regular mealtime.

Restaurant tips include making reservations at your usual mealtime, not being afraid to ask for substitutions and splitting a meal with a family member or friend or ask for a to-go container.

Benavides and Harper also presented visual guidelines on measurements. The palm of your hand is about the size of 3 ounces of meat. A woman's fist is about the size of a cup. A woman's cupped hand is about 1/4 cup and the tip of the thumb is almost 1 teaspoon.

There were also suggestions made on the topic of diabetes and alcohol. Do not consume alcohol on an empty stomach. Keep in mind that symptoms of low blood glucose are very similar to someone who has been drinking. Symptoms of low blood glucose may include hunger, headache, sudden moodiness, lack of coordination and blurred vision.

Alcohol can also impair your judgment and could cause you to miss meals or medications, which could possibly lead to more low blood glucose.

Diabetics are advised to keep a food log and record the blood glucose levels before eating breakfast and two hours after all meals.

The key is to remember that your doctor can provide expert advice and prescriptions, but you have to follow the advice.

Said Harper, "Keep your goal in mind and maintain your blood glucose in the recommended ranges."

On Monday, Nov. 30, the final class in this diabetes series was held at the Atascosa Health Center.


Diabetes is a problem with your body that causes blood glucose levels to rise higher than normal. This is also called hyperglycemia. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes.

TYPE 2: If you have type 2 diabetes your body does not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time it isn't able to keep up and can't make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels.

TYPE 1: Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only 5 percent of people with diabetes have this form of the disease. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. The body breaks down the sugars and starches you eat into a simple sugar called glucose, which it uses for energy. Insulin is a hormone that the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy lives.

GESTATIONAL DIABETES: During pregnancy – usually around the 24th week – many women develop gestational diabetes. A diagnosis of gestational diabetes doesn't mean that you had diabetes before you conceived, or that you will have diabetes after giving birth. But it's important to follow your doctor's advice regarding blood glucose (blood sugar) levels while you're planning your pregnancy, so you and your baby both remain healthy.

This article originally appeared in the Pleasanton Express. To view the orginal article, click here.