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story.lead_photo.caption Martha Fuhrman

April is designated as National Defeat Diabetes Month by the Defeat Diabetes Foundation, but is it really possible to defeat diabetes?

The primary goal of SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital Diabetes Self-Management Education Program is to arm people who have diabetes with the tools they need to self-manage their condition to the best of their ability. My observation is the people who recognize it as a struggle and consciously take action have the best outcomes. Consider the following as your "tools" to defeat diabetes:

Eat healthy

What's good for people with diabetes is good for everyone. Healthy eating refers to a pattern of eating high-quality nutritional foods in amounts that provide energy and maintain weight. A healthy eating pattern contains a variety of colorful vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy, lean sources of protein and oils, while keeping salt, added sugars, saturated and trans fats to a minimum. We suggest there are no foods that are "off limits." However, how much you eat of some foods and what you combine that food with become more important to keep a consistent carbohydrate intake. So, yes, you can have a baked potato. Our best advice is to consider the size of the potato and what other carbohydrate sources you have at the same meal.

Be active

Being active is not just about losing weight. It has many health benefits like lowering blood glucose and cholesterol, improving blood pressure, lowering stress and anxiety, and improving your mood. Pick an activity you like to do and engage another person to join you. In general, about one third of people get the recommended 150 minutes per week of physical activity. There are a lot of people out there that would benefit from your leadership!

Monitor your blood glucose

Checking your blood glucose levels regularly gives you vital information about your diabetes management. Monitoring helps you know when your blood glucose levels are on target even if symptoms are not present. Blood glucose levels greater than recommended targets can damage blood vessel walls and, over time, can increase the risk for eye, kidney, nerve disease and other health problems. If you are eating healthy and being active but still have blood glucose levels greater than target, then you need to visit your health care provider.

Blood glucose levels higher than the recommended targets does not mean you are doing something wrong. Many people with type 2 diabetes will need medications in addition to the benefit they get from lifestyle self-management. You and your health care provider have a wide variety of choices in oral and injectable medications to bridge a potential gap between the results from lifestyle self-management and recommended blood glucose targets. It is very important to "get to goal."

Martha Fuhrman, RN, BSN, CDE, is a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator at SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital in Jefferson City. St. Mary's Hospital offers individual and group diabetes education classes. For more information, call 573-681-3163 or email [email protected]

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