While my daughter was in high school, there was this omnipresent clique of women waiting to pick up their daughters after school, preening themselves non-stop over the scholastic achievements of their respective offspring.
In the frenzied race for success and one-showmanship from which there seems to be no escape, all this competition is generating severe stress. For example, it’s no longer cool to just be yourself. If you are dark-complexioned, then it’s a must to use fairness creams or else, if one is wealthy enough, get a skin graft à la Michael Jackson. If you’re on the plump side, your immediate concern would be to emulate the svelte Kareena Kapoor, and if you’re a male, then having a Hrithik Roshan or a Salman Khan as a role model is an absolute must.
Making matters worse, with new technologies taking over our lives at a dizzying speed, there is ever-increasing automation, and – all of this is over the long haul, taking a toll on our health. Most of us, self included, who have been quite healthy during childhood, tend to take our health for granted. We continue with our changing lifestyles and conditioned behavior without giving it further thought. Until we get a rude awakening when some nasty results show up in the blood or urine test. We need to get a handle on these lifestyle diseases.
As newspapers and magazines repeatedly tell us, the incidence of diabetes is on the upswing. All is not lost, however. Diabetics can effectively manage their condition by adopting some simple yet regular habits and practices that would help arrest the further progression of the disease.
1) It’s important to have at least three meals at about the same time every day. Eating once every four to five hours can help maintain blood sugar levels. Keep some form of carbohydrate food or a juice handy that you can take when you feel your energy levels drop (low glucose level).
2) Use a blood glucose meter to check your blood glucose twice daily if possible. This device is available in the market.
3) Introduce variety in your food, consciously eat less fat, less sugar and less salt, shun fried foods. Boiled or steamed foods are healthier; include low fat dairy products and foods with high fibre content like vegetables, fruit and whole grain breads.
4) Get an A1C test done. This indicates the glucose levels in your red blood cells over a period of 3 to 4 months. Try to achieve an A1C of 6-7%.
5) Shun cigarettes and alcohol. Alcohol adds empty calories and may also conflict with the medication you’ve been prescribed.
6) The importance of exercise for diabetics cannot be over emphasised. Any form of physical activity will help control your blood glucose and weight. You can do any form of activity that you enjoy: walking, swimming, hitting the gym, or even playing a game of badminton or learning a new dance style such as the Zumba.
7) Get your blood pressure checked every quarter, and your cholesterol levels at least once a year.
8) It’s very, very important to keep your feet clean and make sure there is no cracked skin etc., which may give a scope for infections. Never walk barefoot, and always keep your toenails trimmed.
9) Have a regular eye-check up and let your eye doctor know about your concerns so you can prevent complications like blurred vision, cataract and glaucoma.
10) Regular visit to the dentist to get your teeth & gums checked is a must, as diabetes increases your risk of tooth decay. Gum disease will generally take longer to heal if you have diabetes.
Although it’s difficult to introduce regular habits we are not accustomed to overnight, some or all of these can be gradually incorporated into our routines so we can lead a reasonably healthy life.