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Reality Bites - My Meal Plan

What is diabetes

Diabetes is a condition in which your body cannot properly use and store glucose (sugar). Your body produces a hormone called insulin, which helps the body use glucose for energy. When a person has diabetes, the pancreas does not produce insulin or it produces very little insulin or the body cannot use the insulin that is produced. Without insulin, or proper use of insulin, sugar starts to build up in the blood stream and causes blood sugar to rise.

Types of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes
Approximately 10% of people with diabetes have type 1. It is most often diagnosed in children and adolescents. It occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce insulin.

Gestational Diabetes
This is a temporary condition that affects about 3% of pregnant women. These women are also at increased risk in the future of developing type 2 diabetes.

What are the symptoms?

  • Unusual thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight changes (gain or loss)
  • Extreme fatigue or lack of energy
  • Blurred vision
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet

It is important to know that many people with type 2 diabetes donít have any symptoms.

Risk factors for diabetes

  • Over the age of 40 years
  • Of Aboriginal, Hispanic, Asian, South Asian or African decent
  • A parent or sibling with diabetes
  • Overweight
  • Had gestational diabetes
  • Gave birth to a baby that weighed more that 9 lbs (4 kg)
  • Impaired glucose tolerance
  • High blood pressure and/or high cholesterol
  • Diagnosed with: polycystic ovary syndrome, acanthosis nigricans (dark patches of skin) or schizophrenia

How is it managed?

  • Nutrition (meal planning)
  • Weight management
  • Physical activity
  • Medication
  • Lifestyle management

If diabetes is left untreated, there can be a variety of serious complications such as:

  • Heart Failure
  • Kidney Failure
  • Eye disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Sexual dysfunction

Can it be prevented?

Healthy eating, regular physical activity and weight control are effective ways of preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes.