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    While a frustrating condition, people with diabetes are better able to successfully manage their condition when they have the love and support of family and friends. How can you come alongside loved ones and support them in their diabetes journey? Here are a few ideas. Read >>
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Health and Fitness News

Don’t Offer Dessert

What you can do to encourage healthy habits for a friend with diabetes.

If you’ve not struggled with diabetes, it’s hard to imagine what life would be like with it. The finger pricks, constant blood sugar monitoring, insulin injections, restricted diet, fatigue, brain fog, and fear of the future. Diabetes is a chronic disease that can’t be cured, only managed, and the management never ends.

Millions of people around the world live with diabetes. Chances are you probably know someone with the disease. While a frustrating condition, people with diabetes are better able to successfully manage their condition when they have the love and support of family and friends.

How can you come alongside loved ones and support them in their diabetes journey? Here are a few ideas.

Educate Yourself

The more you know about diabetes, the more help you can be. Many myths surround the disease, so before you make assumptions regarding the proper way to manage it, get your facts straight. Learn about the causes, the symptoms, how the disease works, how to prevent complications, and what to do in emergency situations.

Don’t Be a Know-It-All

You very well may know the right ways for a diabetic to eat, exercise, and manage their disease, but there’s a fine line between helpful advice and nagging. You may see your loved one making unhealthy choices, but you don’t know what it’s like to be in her shoes. Encouragement is more productive than pestering, scolding, or policing, so take that to heart when speaking.

Diabetes taught me discipline. - Sonia Sotomayor

Come Alongside

Healthy lifestyle habits are at the heart of diabetes control, whether or not medication is part of the treatment plan. Everyone would do well to quit smoking, eat healthily, and get regular exercise—not just diabetics. One of the best ways you can support people with diabetes is to make healthy lifestyle choices with them.

Don’t eat sweets, white breads, pasta, rice, French fries, or processed foods and don’t drink soda, lemonade, or sweet tea in front of those with diabetes. In fact, people living with diabetics should keep these foods and drinks out of the house altogether. After all, it’s a lot harder to resist unhealthy foods and drinks when people around you are indulging in them or when they’re easily accessible in the kitchen.

Staying active is another important part of blood sugar control. Having a partner to exercise with increases motivation, commitment, and success. Plan to exercise together for at least half an hour on most days of the week. Go for a walk, hike, bike ride, or jog. Meet at the gym to lift weights, play racquet ball, or take a spin class. And introduce your loved one who has diabetes to your trainer!

Stay Involved

Having a chronic disease can feel lonely and scary. Let your diabetic friends know they don’t have to go through the hard things alone. Instead of telling friends to call you if they need anything, be specific and offer to go to doctor’s visits, dietician appointments, or support groups. Take notes for your friends at appointments, and help them think of questions to ask.

Keep a close eye on your loved ones to notice drops in blood sugar. Ask what symptoms to watch for and how you can help. Typically, when blood sugar gets low, people may become weak, shaky, irritable, confused, nervous, hungry, pale, or nauseated. When you notice these symptoms, offer some fast-acting carbs (glucose gels or tablets, soda, fruit juice, honey, or table sugar) to get blood sugar back where they belong.

With knowledge, the right attitude, and a willingness to stick by their side, you can make life with diabetes more manageable for those you love.