November 16, 2009
Posted: 03:00 PM ET
Bob Greene, Oprah Winfrey's expert on diet and fitness, and author of the best-selling "Best Life" books, has a new book out: "The Best Life Guide to Managing Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes." In this "5 Questions," Bob shares his best tips with us on dealing with the disease.
Editor's Note: November is Diabetes Awareness Month
LKL Blog: What is the single most important thing people with diabetes need to do?
Greene: You have to be diligent monitoring your blood sugar. You think it would be a no-brainer, but it's not. People get tuned into changing their diet and exercise habits, then ignore getting a handle on blood sugar. Everyone hates the finger prick, but it's the most important thing, and so many people just don't do it.
As experts we advise "eat this, don't eat that," but each individual is different. We really don't know how each person responds to changes in diet and exercise, so you have to do regular blood sugar tests as you make these changes to see what works best for you.
LKL Blog: What simple thing can people do to combat diabetes?
Greene: It may sound strange, but move around more. Type II diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes, but now we're seeing it in kids. The reason it was adult-onset was we slowed up as we aged, but not now. Our lives have become more sedentary, and that has led to children getting diagnosed with it.
When you move around more, it changes your sensitivity to insulin, making the insulin more effective. Of course, regimented exercise is the best way to achieve this, but barring that, wear a pedometer, move more and things will improve. Nutrition habits, reducing carb intake, and sleep are also very important.
LKL Blog: Is there anything you can do to prevent getting diabetes?
Greene: Let's just talk about type II, because lifestyle can contribute to that. If you're inactive most of your life, that greatly increases your chances. An active lifestyle can prevent many cases of diabetes. My book addresses pre-diabetes too. Someone with pre-diabetes can, with the right lifestyle changes we've discussed, significantly decrease their chances of becoming diabetic.
LKL Blog: What is the goal of your approach?
Greene: People need to know diabetes is a serious condition. I want to give people hope, but they need to realize this is serious. I want people to manage their condition. You can live a normal life by modifying your lifestyle. That's the overriding message.
When people get a condition or disease, there are two usual responses. Sometimes it motivates people to tackle their condition and make positive changes in their life. But unfortunately, for most, it gives them an excuse and they trow up their hands and feel sorry for themselves. That's who we're trying to reach. You can manage this condition. Some people say their life is better after being diagnosed. They didn't exercise or eat well before, and now they do and feel healthier for it.
LKL Blog: Your "Best Life" approach also deals with the mental and emotional state of people, and how it contributes to weight. Does that approach apply to someone with diabetes?
Greene: It applies even more to people with diabetes. The missing piece for people with diabetes is managing emotions. If you're in a bad relationship, financially stressed, or generally unhappy, there's a tendency to use food for comfort. This gets you in even more trouble if you have diabetes. This is what will strip your motivation to control this disease. So I'd say emotional well-being is an extremely important factor.
To learn more, go to www.thebestlife.com/diabetes.
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