November is Diabetes Awareness Month and Tuesday the 14th was World Diabetes Day. Diabetes isn’t something I used to think much about, but then I really didn’t know anyone who was affected by it. As I have gotten older, I have met more and more people who have it, which has vastly increased my awareness. In fact, did you know that one in three Canadians have diabetes or pre-diabetes and there are approximately 1.5 million cases that are undiagnosed? Kind of staggering statistics, don’t you think?
Here are five things you can do to support the cause during Diabetes Awareness Month:
Maybe you’re like I used to be. You hear about diabetes on commercials or in TV and movies but never really give it much though. Think about those statistics above, though. One in three Canadians. 1.5 MILLION people who have diabetes, but have not be diagnosed. That suddenly brings it much closer to home. Do your research. Talk to your friends and family.
Let me stress this again, 1.5 million cases are undiagnosed. Go to the doctor and have your blood tested. I’ve been to the doctor over the years to check different things like my thyroid and iron levels, and they always check my blood sugar level as well. You may hate having your blood drawn, and a doctors visit certainly isn’t at the top of anyone’s list of fun ways to spend their day, but you may be very grateful that you decided to do so. Not everyone shows symptoms so this may be your only way to find out if you are part of that statistic. Having your blood checked is good for other reasons too, it’s a good idea to monitor your levels and keep an eye on your overall health. Having a regular check is the best way to spot irregularities, and the sooner you know, the sooner you can start treating it.
You can also use this online test to check your diabetes risk. Keep in mind, this is just an online test and is not indicative of whether or not you have diabetes. Bonus to taking this test: Sun Life Financial will donate $3 to diabetes research for every test taken.
Attend a Program or Event
Find out how your city is raising awareness for diabetes in November, and through the rest of the year. In August I participated in a 5k, Lace Up to END Diabetes, which also served as a fundraiser and a way to increase awareness of diabetes. This month, Saskatoon had a “No Sugar Tonight Gala”, which is a fundraiser featuring a healthy meal and entertainment. There are events country-wide throughout the year, but especially during Diabetes Awareness Month. You can visit the Diabetes Canada website to search your city and see types of events are happening and find out how you can show your support.
First I started seeing Team Diabetes shirts during my local 5k’s, and then I started noticing their booths at my packet pick-ups. After that, I started to hear commercials running on the radio mentioning Team Diabetes. You can sign up for a race through Team Diabetes and fundraise in order to reach your minimal goal (set by them). There are a lot of different locations. Some of them are located in Canada, but many are international. They include places like Honolulu, Dublin, Vienna and more. They have options for everything from a 5k to a full marathon and walking, running, cycling or hiking. If I thought I could raise the money, I would sign up for the Maasai African Bush Trek in a heartbeat.
Diabetes is not something that can necessarily be controlled. There is no 100% guarantee that you will never be diagnosed with it. That being said, there are definitely some things you can do to help – mainly, be healthy. It’s recommended to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. That doesn’t mean you have to go for a run or visit the gym every day, it can mean something as basic as going for a walk, biking to work or shovelling snow. Even walking through the mall while doing your Christmas shopping would count! Let’s face it, shopping can be some great cardio! Just try to avoid the Black Friday rumble, no one needs that kind of physical activity.
Diet can also play a factor. I’m not going to get too in depth, the Diabetes Canada website has some great resources if you want to know more. The jist of it is, eat healthily. Load up on fruits and veggies. Try to avoid high amounts of sodium and saturated and trans fats. You also want to eat foods with a low GI (Glycemic Index) because that will help minimize spikes in your blood sugar and cholesterol levels. That’s not to say you can never treat yourself, just do so in moderation. The Canadian Diabetes Association has a 21 Day Challenge that can be a great starting point if you’re looking to jump-start a healthier life.
Let’s not just talk about diabetes this month, let’s do something about it. Go and get your blood tested. Make some dietary changes and start eating healthier. Go for a walk and talk about diabetes to those who may not know very much about it. Knowledge is key.
If you would like to donate to diabetes research, you can do so directly at the Diabetes Canada website.