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Dealing with diabetes

Kolasa, Kathy
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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Q Would you please help spread the word about our upcoming event that will celebrate the successes of people in Pitt County who are eating healthy, being physically active and managing their own diabetes.  JS, Pitt County.

A Jackie Sugg MS, RDN, LDN is a long time friend and colleague from the Pitt County Health Department. As the health promotions dietitian there she is continually working toward engaging members of our community in their own health care. Here is what she wants you to know about an upcoming event during November’s Diabetes month. She also encourages people with diabetes to talk with their doctor, dietitian and/or certified diabetes educator and family and friends in a way that will break down the barriers to healthy living.

In honor of American Diabetes Month® in November, the Pitt County Health Department is hosting a free, community awareness event called “Recipe for Success: Prevention and Management of Diabetes” on Thursday, November 15, 2018 from 4pm-5pm at the Pitt County Agricultural Center. The event will feature information about two local programs, the NC Minority Diabetes Prevention Program and the Diabetes Self-Management Education Program. These programs are focused on empowering people to make lifestyle changes that improve their health. Past participants in the programs who have made successful changes will share their stories. Additionally, a cooking demonstration featuring an easy-to-make Black Bean Soup recipe provided by the ECU Physicians Weight Management Program will be offered. The event aims to reach everyone who wants to learn more about diabetes. For more information, please contact 902-2361.

In Eastern North Carolina, we often hear people talking about having “sugar.” This is referring to Diabetes, a condition which signifies elevated levels of blood glucose due to the body’s inability to use insulin properly. Considering the prevalence, it’s likely that most people already know someone who is or will be diagnosed. An estimated 1 out of 10 adults in North Carolina are already diagnosed with diabetes and over 50,000 adults are newly diagnosed each year. Unfortunately, having “sugar” can carry a stigma associated with the diagnosis.

For some, that might mean feeling shame or guilt for not being in control of their health. For others, it could mean hiding their diagnosis from family or friends to avoid perceived judgement. These feelings can be isolating and may lead someone to avoid seeking social support or choose to omit or misreport valuable health information to their healthcare provider for fear of being labeled as uncontrolled or noncompliant. It’s true that managing Diabetes can be challenging, however, improving the language surrounding the diagnosis can make a big difference.

We at the Health Department are following the lead of the American Association of Diabetes Educators and American Diabetes Association by offering hope to people with diabetes and helping them increase their well-being while also decreasing their stress related to having diabetes. Our team strives to praise strengths and celebrate small victories and good faith efforts, and avoid blaming the person when outcomes are not ideal. We know that other health care providers in our community are doing the same.

If you have diabetes, we hope that you will have an open and honest conversation about the real life challenges that you are facing with your health care provider. Diabetes is a continually evolving condition that may require adjustments, so don’t be afraid to voice your concerns. Tell your provider about any difficulties which might make it hard for you to meet your goals. Life happens to all of us. Make sure your health care provider is aware of big life events which affect your diabetes management.

Your health care team wants you to succeed and feel empowered, so it’s important to share all of the details with them. Using facts and empathy to guide decision making is the ultimate goal for providers and it’s worth the extra effort of being an active participant in the conversation. One frequently voiced concern is that the person with diabetes has to eat differently than the whole family or buy special foods. Nothing should be further from the truth. A person following an eating pattern to manage his or her diabetes is following a healthy eating plan. It would be great for the whole family to be engaged in the same eating pattern. A registered dietitian nutritionist can help the whole family. Enrolling in diabetes self management programs can help the whole family be healthy.

Professor emeritus Kathy Kolasa, a registered dietitian, nutritionist and Ph.D, is an Affiliate Professor in the Brody School of Medicine at ECU. Contact her at kolasaka@ecu.edu.

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