The year 2020 finds most of us facing new challenges. However, it also presents an opportunity for us to focus on ourselves and our health as we are forced to spend more time in our homes due to the continuing spread of COVID-19. The impact of this pandemic has caused an increase in stress, especially among those who have additional health concerns, such as diabetes.
Diabetes is a prolonged health condition which affects the way that your body turns food into energy. When your body functions properly, the food you eat is broken down into sugar, which is then released into your bloodstream, to provide your body with energy. When your blood sugar level increases, it then signals your pancreas to produce and release insulin, which allows the body’s cells to use sugar for energy. Diabetes occurs when your body is unable to make enough insulin, or it is unable to use it as it should, and too much sugar remains in the bloodstream.
Unfortunately, minority populations are disproportionately affected by diabetes due to varying genetic and environmental factors. While there is little we can do to change the effects of this disease due to genetic factors, we can, however, change some environmental factors. Choosing healthier foods, losing weight, and developing a more active lifestyle can help prevent or manage type 2 diabetes. The following study shows how minorities are affected by diabetes.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), racial and ethnic minorities have a higher burden of diabetes, worse diabetes control and are more likely to experience complications (for example, among Hispanics, the death rate from diabetes is 50% higher than for non-Hispanic whites). Often the cause of this disparity has to do with a combination of risk factors, such as the lack of access to affordable healthcare and cultural attitudes and behaviors.
Who has diabetes? According to the National Health Interview Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Census Bureau:
14.7% of American Indians/Alaska natives
12.5% of Hispanics
11.7% of non-Hispanic blacks
9.2% of Asian Americans
7.5% of non-Hispanic whites 18 and older
Following a plan set by your medical provider is an important factor in managing diabetes. Maintaining a healthy eating plan including a diet low in sugar is important for those diagnosed with diabetes. The good news is that spending more time at home can lead to more time preparing healthier meals with more control over the ingredients used. Making other lifestyle changes such as developing an exercise routine is important as well, though often difficult. We know that minorities face many challenges in managing their diabetes, and this can lead to negative thinking patterns. But, what if, instead, we could use a few strategies to encourage positive thinking?
You wanted to lose three pounds at weigh-in, but only lost half a pound. It is still a loss and worth celebrating.
Learn to love and feel good about yourself. “I will never look like Halle Berry, but I can be the best ME!”
You can be in control of your eating habits, meal planning, and being active. You cannot control COVID-19.
Hang out with others that are going through the same journey. Find a diabetes support group.