(BPT) - More than 30 million Americans have diabetes, and most (90-95 percent) have type 2 diabetes. Whether you live with type 2 diabetes or know someone who does, it can bring many challenges along the way. Last year, America’s Diabetes Challenge, a program from Merck and the American Diabetes Association, invited people to share their stories — both struggles and successes. The response was overwhelming, as thousands of patients and caregivers discussed their experiences managing the disease or supporting a loved one with it.
Allison from Kansas explained that she wants to eat healthy, but isn’t sure where to start. “I have a really hard time eating right because I don’t know what I should have and what I shouldn’t. I do try to eat a lot of salad, but my weakness is pop and sweets,” she said.
Meanwhile, Norma from Ohio described how she has helped her husband throughout his type 2 diabetes journey. “When my husband was diagnosed, we changed our diet and started exercising together. As his wife, I tell him he needs to stay healthy for our family and me, and I think that type of support is important for people who have the disease. It helps them take care of themselves,” she said.
Through these stories, and many others, America’s Diabetes Challenge learned that the type 2 diabetes community faces some common challenges like eating healthy, exercising, sticking to a treatment plan and coping with the disease.
But, these stories also demonstrated the community’s unwavering determination to help improve their diabetes management and reach their blood sugar goals. That’s why, this year, America’s Diabetes Challenge offered tips to help people tackle these common challenges head on:
* Eating healthy: Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring. For extra flavor, people can use salt-free spices and herbs like dried basil, cumin, chili powder and cayenne. Finding ways to enjoy food may make it easier to maintain a healthy diet.
* Exercising: Working out with a friend or partner can make fitness fun, and making a plan with someone can help keep people committed to their exercise goals. People should make sure to talk to their doctor before starting or making any changes to their exercise routine.
* Sticking to a treatment plan: People who are prescribed medication by their doctor may struggle to remember to take it. Using a pillbox that’s filled each week or scheduling reminders on a phone may be helpful.
* Coping with the disease: Whether it’s a doctor, family member or friend, people with type 2 diabetes should surround themselves with others who can support them when they struggle and celebrate with them when they reach a goal.
Award-winning artist Tim McGraw has family, friends and fans impacted by type 2 diabetes. As one of the voices of America’s Diabetes Challenge, he’s encouraged people to show how they’re putting the program’s tips into action. “I’d like to thank all of those who’ve participated in America’s Diabetes Challenge over the years. Whether you’ve made changes to your diet, started a new exercise routine or reached your A1C goal, you’ve all accomplished so much and your dedication is inspiring. Be proud of the progress you’ve made and keep working hard to reach your goals,” said McGraw.
For helpful resources and tips, and to share how you’re putting them into action, visit AmericasDiabetesChallenge.com. Additionally, you can find Spanish-language resources at www.DesafiandoLaDiabetes.com, or join the America’s Diabetes Challenge community by visiting facebook.com/AmericasDiabetesChallenge.