If you are like me in having Type 2 diabetes, you can be thankful that the chronic disease you have to live with is diabetes. Almost everyone whom you or I know has a chronic disease now or will have one if he or she lives long enough, and many of those diseases are much more challenging.
Type 2 diabetes is a wake-up call. Think of diabetes as a kind message to your body, a warning that you need to act now to avoid serious trouble later.
Type 1 diabetes isn’t that friendly to the people who have it. You can’t stop taking daily insulin injections and reverse Type 1 diabetes. But you can reverse Type 2 diabetes and even reverse almost all of the complications that unmanaged diabetes can cause.
My own experience tells me this. In my earlier years when I wasn’t managing my diabetes well enough, I suffered from microaneurysms that could have led to vision loss, fatty liver disease, and peripheral neuropathy. But by reducing my blood glucose level I was able to reverse all of these potentially serious complications.
Your body thanks you
Just as my experience has taught me to be grateful that diabetes is the disease I have, it also can be an object of your gratitude. When you wake up to the message that a diagnosis of diabetes gave you, you have a little time to reverse your diabetes, and your entire body will thank you.
The even better news about this wakeup call is not only that you have a chance to avoid the complications of unmanaged diabetes, but you also can, at the same time turn, around many other health problems. I had sleep apnea that interfered with my sleep, arthritis in one knee that stopped me from hiking, and obesity that made any movement difficult. You may have the same or different problems that can disappear when your diabetes goes into remission.
This month gives you the chance to express your gratitude for having diabetes. You can tell this to your family and friends at the Thanksgiving table as each of you share what you are thankful for.
In fact, as someone with Type 2 diabetes, you have two choices:
You can stuff yourself with turkey and all the trimmings and let your good control go by the boards for once. This is not cheating because sometimes we have to make exceptions for special events.
But if you choose instead to exercise some mature constraint on your appetite, you have a great opportunity to tell your family and friends about how you have conquered your diabetes. They will hear you if they truly care. And make sure to tell them that President Barack Obama has proclaimed November as National Diabetes Month for a good reason.
Skip the high carbs
You will do your body a favor by loading up on the salad, green beans, and extra servings of turkey while skipping the mashed potatoes, stuffing, candied sweet potatoes, cornbread with honey, cranberry sauce, and pies for dessert while at the Thanksgiving table. It’s the carbs in these foods — not so much the quantity of the food — that will raise your blood glucose level more.
Finally, no matter what you eat, be sure to take a walk right after Thanksgiving dinner so your blood glucose won't have the opportunity to stay high for a long time. This also gives you a wonderful chance to have a quiet, stress-busting time, when your family and friends are stuffing themselves with desserts.
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David Mendosa is a journalist who learned in 1994 that he has Type 2 diabetes, which he now writes about exclusively. He has written thousands of diabetes articles, two books about it, created one of the first diabetes websites, and publishes the monthly newsletter, “Diabetes Update.” His very low-carbohydrate diet, current A1C level of 5.1, and BMI of 19.8 keeps his diabetes in remission without any drugs.