Diabetes impacts nearly every decision made by individuals diagnosed with the disease including what to eat, wear and do. This November is American Diabetes Awareness Month and the theme is “Everyday Reality.” According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes each year. While there is no cure, those living with diabetes can adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors to keep their blood glucose in a healthy range.
“My dad was diagnosed with diabetes over 20 years ago. Over the years, he has implemented various strategies to help with regulating his blood sugar along with maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” explained Lori Hestad, MBA, program manager for Great Plains Quality Innovation Network (QIN). “His goal each day is to walk at least 10,000 steps and to eat small healthy meals frequently. Taking short walking breaks during the morning and afternoon, parking farther away in a parking lot, and using stairs instead of an elevator increased daily steps.”
While developing these healthy lifestyle changes can be challenging, these strategies can manage and prevent diabetes. Great Plains QIN works with communities and healthcare providers to promote diabetes self-management education programs like Better Choices, Better Health® South Dakota (BCBH) to teach proven methods for achieving behavior change. These programs can be a first step in developing a healthy lifestyle to manage or prevent diabetes.
Hestad detailed the healthy eating strategies she learned from her dad. “He uses a smaller plate to manage portions and chooses healthy snacks between meals. Once I decided to adopt the same lifestyle changes, we would hold each other accountable for exercising and healthy eating. Over time, these small incremental lifestyle changes have made a positive impact on both mine and my dad’s health.”
The small-group atmosphere of diabetes self-management education programs also provides accountability and support, along with education for key concerns including glucose monitoring, identifying symptoms of hypoglycemia, preventing complications, foot care and menu planning.
South Dakota adults living with pre-diabetes and type-2 diabetes and their caregivers can participate in BCBH with diabetes for free and connect with others in their community facing the same challenges. The education and tools increase confidence for making healthy choices, which also impacts mental and physical health, creates positive health outcomes, increases energy levels and improves overall quality of life.
Great Plains Quality Innovations Network (QIN) partners with healthcare professionals and communities across the four-state region to promote opportunities for diabetes self-management education and offers resources on the Great Plains QIN Everyone with Diabetes Counts web site.