In the chapters that follow you will get a comprehensive definition and description of diabetes in all its forms, as well as the treatments and medications that are available to help you manage the disease and cope with (if not avoid) the complications that can accompany it. Because most African-Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes will have type 2, known as adult-onset diabetes, most of the information in this book will focus on that type. But all types of diabetes—type 1(so-called juvenile diabetes) and type 2—require similar care. The key to living well with any kind of diabetes is to eat well, exercise, take insulin or oral medications if they’re prescribed and work closely with your healthcare provider. We’ll introduce you to the team of doctors, specialists, and other caregivers who are available to guide your care—and give you tips on how to communicate with them so that you’re all working together for the best benefit of your health.
Of course we’ll devote a lot of space in this book to talking about what you can and can’t eat. (Short version: You can eat pretty much anything you want. It’s all in how you do it.) In several chapters, we will address the basics of good nutrition, building a diabetes-specific food pyramid, interpreting food labels, counting carbohydrates, and monitoring and managing your blood-sugar levels.
Because a healthy weight and good fitness level are key to living well with diabetes, we’ll spend some time talking about diets—the healthy ones that work, the alternative ones that may have some benefits, and the fad diets that may do more harm than good. The chapter on fitness will help you design an exercise routine that will not only help you lose weight—an important part of managing diabetes—but will keep you motivated and mentally sharp for the long haul.
You’ll learn ways to address denial and the other complex emotions that often come along with a diabetes diagnosis, and how to develop the habits—discipline, a positive attitude, good follow-through—that you’ll need to overcome the mental blocks to taking the best possible care of yourself.
No two diabetes patients have the same situation, so part of your challenge will be to develop a self-care program that works for you. That’s why each chapter includes charts and worksheets that will help you do things like develop your own meal plan, organize a personal fitness program, manage your glucose levels, keep track of relevant information, and even manage your moods. And, though we hope you will read each page with as much care as it was written, we know you’ll sometimes need info in a hurry, so each chapter concludes with a Power Points section—a quick summary of the most important take-away points in the chapter.
In the back of the book you will find three appendices: The first is a two-week sample menu chock full of Caribbean and traditional Southern meal-time favorites—with carb counts and nutrient totals conveniently included. Appendix B provides select recipes from the sample menus—each analyzed for nutrient totals. And Appendix C is a list of the carb counts of more than 100 traditional foods from the American South and Caribbean designed to help you successfully incorporate your favorite fare into your daily meal planning.
Ultimately, this book covers absolutely every aspect of living with diabetes. It will become your self-care bible. And a bible is exactly what you will need to live well with diabetes—body, mind, and soul.
Living well with diabetes is a life-long process. Your goal is to maintain good health each day of your life, “one day at a time.” The beginning of the familiar song reminds us, “I’m only human. I’m just a woman.” No one is perfect and diabetes by its very nature is unpredictable, so there will be days when you’ve done everything “right” and your blood sugar will still be higher than expected. Don’t be discouraged. “Yesterday’s gone,” as the song says. Tomorrow is an opportunity to start fresh. Take this book along with you as you travel the road to living well with diabetes.