World Diabetes Day: Diagnosed with diabetes? Here are the immediate changes you should make

India is the world's capital for diabetes and experts say that everyday a large number of people are diagnosed with the dreaded disease. While the diagnosis is shocking for most, often people don't know what they should do right after they are diagnosed. We spoke to Dr. Vineet Arora, Sr. Consultant- Internal Medicine, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Shalimar Bagh to ask him about the immediate changes you should make right after diagnosis. Here are excerpts from the interview

After being diagnosed with diabetes, what are the lifestyle changes one should immediately make?

Lifestyle changes include urgent steps to lose weight like starting a regular exercise regimen (about 30-45 min /day) along with strict diet control with attention to the quantity and quality of food. It is advised a patient change their eating pattern; especially paying attention to avoiding large meals and having small frequent meals as far as possible. Read about the kinds of exercises diabetics should do.

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What kinds of foods should a person immediately stop eating?

All foods with a high Glycemic Index (GI) should be replaced by low GI foods. Foods containing refined flours like Maida or containing high levels of dissolved sugars should be avoided including white bread, aerated drinks, fruit juices etc. Read more about what GI means and how it can affect your health.

What other habits should they stop and which ones should they adopt?

Habits generally considered bad for health do have an impact on one's blood sugar levels too. One should avoid drinking alcohol especially binge drinking. Apart from that, patients should avoid smoking as far as possible. Healthy habits like regular exercise, yoga, meditation should become a part of one's lifestyle. Read more about how drinking and smoking can worsen your blood sugar levels.

If a diabetic is insulin dependent, how can they start using the injections?

If the patient is type 1 diabetic or has been advised to start insulin by their diabetologist, then there are many devices available for self injecting insulin. These include insulin pens which are very easy to use and the pricks are virtually painless. Advanced devices like insulin pumps are also available which automatically sense and inject insulin into a patient's body. Fear of insulin is totally unfounded and a good discussion with a diabetic educator can allay most of these fears.

Immediately making changes can be difficult for a diabetic, any suggestions on how they can incorporate these changes gradually into their lives?

All the lifestyle changes suggested may be difficult to implement at one go, so one should start with one thing at a time and gradually add a new change to their life. Many food items are now specially available for diabetics which don't compromise on taste. Making changes is as simple as choosing between momentary satiation to a healthy and long life that is free of complications. Diabetics must understand that the disease comes with a host of other complex and chronic conditions that only become worse if their blood sugar is not kept in control.

Photo source: Getty images

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