Diabetes Awareness Day highlights disease

Each year, the fourth Tuesday of March is designated as Diabetes Awareness Day. The American Diabetes Association continues to focus our nation’s attention on the seriousness of diabetes and its impact on people affected by this disease. Diabetes is taking a heavy toll on this country’s health. Pay attention to the following risk factors: over the age of 45, overweight or obese, physically inactive, having close family members with diabetes. Women who have had a baby greater than nine pounds or had gestational diabetes, Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders have a higher incidence of diabetes.

Here are some steps you can take to help prevent diabetes:

Ask your health care provider if you need a blood test to check for pre-diabetes. At least 86 million Americans age 20 or older (and about half of all Americans 65 and older) have pre-diabetes.

The vast majority don’t know they have it.

 Be physically active every day. Aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week (e.g. at least 30 minutes five days per week). Work out with light weights to increase lean body mass at least twice a week.

Keep yourself at a healthy weight. If you are overweight, even a 5-10 percent weight loss will decrease your risk! 

Eat a healthy, wellbalanced diet, with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and whole grains. Cut down on sweets and high-fat foods.

Eat three meals a day.

Don’t go longer than four or five hours without eating.

Include healthy snacks if hungry. 

Watch portion sizes — read food labels to minimize carbohydrate intake. 

Limit foods high in sugar and fat. 

Avoid regular soda and sweetened beverages/ juices.

If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, talk with your health care provider about taking a more active role in your care. Ask for a referral to the Diabetes Care Center and Nutrition Services at the Aurora Sheboygan Clinic or the Aurora Health Center in Plymouth at 920-459-1164 or the Diabetes/Nutrition Center at St. Nicholas Hospital, 920-459-5175.

The Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging is offering a free, sixweek workshop to help people with type 2 diabetes better manage their care. This program is called Healthy Living with Diabetes, will be held at Aurora Sheboygan Clinic and Marsho Family Medical Group. Registration is required. For more information or to register call the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Sheboygan County at 920-467-4100.

Members of the community are also invited to attend free informational sessions to learn more about the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program and why it is important to take charge of your health now. Call Mike Burns at 920-451-8000 extension 118 for more information.

By making important lifestyle changes now, you may be able to alter the course of your longterm health. If you already have diabetes, your goal should be to have your blood sugar under optimal control – that is, in the range that will keep you feeling well and help prevent complications.

Elizabeth Nora is an endocrinologist at Aurora Sheboygan Clinic