Monday Medical: Living well with diabetes
If you go:
What: 2015 Diabetes Exhibit
When: Tuesday, June 30, 3:30 to 6 p.m.
Free Movement Class at 4 p.m.
Where: Yampa Valley Medical Center conference rooms, 1024 Central Park Drive
Free admission and prizes including a Fitbit, gym memberships, cookbooks and more.
Steamboat Springs — Being diagnosed with diabetes can be overwhelming. But there can be a silver lining: properly managing the disease can lead to a fuller, healthier lifestyle.
“Things that people are asked to do in terms of managing diabetes are the same things people should be doing in everyday life,” said Pam Wooster, registered dietician nutritionist and certified diabetes educator.
Eating well and exercising — both of which are important to managing diabetes — have numerous benefits to health and wellbeing. And they can have other unexpected benefits — learning to make meals from scratch can lead to a love of cooking, while upping activity can result in newfound hobbies like hiking or yoga.
At Yampa Valley Medical Center’s annual Diabetes Exhibit June 30, people with diabetes can get their questions answered and learn more about living with the disease. There will be tasty and healthy meals to sample, chair massages, personal trainers, a pharmacist, an eyecare specialist, an insurance expert and more.
About 9 percent of Americans have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. While diabetes is less prevalent in Routt County, it still poses a challenge for many residents.
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Diabetes is a disease that results in too much glucose, or sugar, in the blood. Typically, food is broken down into glucose and shuttled into the bloodstream; insulin then helps move glucose into cells, where it is used as fuel or stored.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body does not make enough insulin; in Type 2 diabetes, insulin is not used properly by the body. Both result in too much glucose in the blood, putting people at risk for various health problems.
But with the correct treatment and lifestyle, people can see improvements. Modifying diet is an important first step and may involve removing sugar, increasing fiber and carefully monitoring carbohydrates.
“For some people, (changing their diet) is very easy because it fits with how they’re already living or want to live,” Wooster said. “And for some people, it’s more difficult. (They may) have so many changes to make, they just don’t know where to start.”
The key, according to Wooster, is to start with small changes to diet that work easily into someone’s current life. The results can be surprising — and motivating.
“They see blood sugars come down, they have more energy, they just feel better in general,” Wooster said.
Plus, as people start to cook more from scratch and to experiment with new ingredients, they often find their food tastes better.
“Eating healthy does taste good,” Wooster said. “It opens up the door for more flavors and more enjoyment of food.”
Starting to exercise can also be intimidating — it can be hard to work another activity into an already busy schedule or to try something brand new.
Just like with diet, Wooster recommends starting small. For instance, with a 10- or 15-minute walk. The small goal helps people get out the door; once they’re going, they often walk for longer.
“You’ve got to get started somewhere, and it feels better once you get into a routine,” she said.
Tracking progress with fitness apps can be motivating. And, people just might discover a new passion, whether that’s hiking or biking, doing yoga or working out at the gym, or even bowling or dancing.
At the end of the day, diabetes doesn’t have to stop people from doing what they love. “You can still have a very rich, rewarding life,” Wooster said.
Susan Cunningham writes for Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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