Empowering diabetics with knowledge
By Dr. Danielle Nelson, MD MPH
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a two year update on the GLOB Master's Diabetes odyssey. Dr. Danielle Susanne Nelson, MD, MPH, is a UF/SHANDS Board Certified Family Medicine Doctor. Dr. Nelson's areas of interest include resident education, women's health, chronic disease management, group visits, under served medicine and medical education.
Having diabetes totally changes your life. Simple things like meeting a friend for coffee or a meal can become a landmine. At the same time your doctor tells you that foods you love to eat or eat everyday are off-limits or "bad". You suddenly are started on multiple medications and are told you need monitoring sometimes four times a year or more.
As a primary care physician for UFHealth I see patients struggle with these issues every day:
Individuals, patients, who are struggling understanding what diabetes is and what it means for them.
Patients with diabetes and pre-diabetes working to change their lifestyle to be able to control their diabetes.
It is not uncommon to see people who want to avoid needles, insulin and other aspects of diabetes at all costs.
Finally, I see people who are frustrated when they are trying their hardest to do everything right and yet their blood glucose monitoring numbers don't show it. (Heads up GLOB Master!)
For a few years now I have been overseeing the diabetes group visit sessions at the UFHealth Main Street Clinic. I chose to do this because I saw a need to go more in depth with patients about diabetes and didn't have time in my normal visit structure. So much about controlling diabetes is related to lifestyle and lifestyle is often the hardest to change. For most people it is easier to take a pill than to commit to regular exercise routine, or to eat more vegetables.
I have learned people are more likely to make lifestyle changes when they choose small, achievable goals; when they are held accountable by their peers; and when they create the goals themselves. We use all these techniques in our diabetes group discussions.
This group discussion with patients is a scheduled medical visit with various people from all walks of life who all have diabetes.
At the start of each session the participants start out by creating a safe place where they can talk about their health and ask questions without worrying about others talking about what they heard or judging them. Faux food like the image above can be effective in understanding measuring carbohydrates.
- We also talk about diabetic "tricks" and struggles that doctors probably don't usually bring up in a normal visit:
- What are the secrets to make injections hurt less?
- Where do you find good low-carb recipes?
- Am I the only one who just wants to give up and eat nothing but carbs?
It has been documented that discussing your illness with your peers can help you feel supported and empowered in your daily diabetes regimen.
Did you know in 2015, 30.3 million Americans, or 9.4% of the population, had diabetes. 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that can be managed. My mission as a caregiver is to help people discover how they can be a partner with their doctor and health care providers to take better charge of their illness and really control their diabetes.
To learn more about diabetes, check out the American Diabetes Association website.
UP NEXT: The GLOB's Eating Healthy Columnist Dr. Michelle Cardel identifies three available diets that are also diabetes friendly. Check these GLOB links below for more information regarding the current Type 2 Diabetes epidemic:
AMY APONICK HAS WRITTEN AN ARTICLE discussing diabetes and the resources available for persons with diabetes.
AMY APONICK EXPLAINS THE ROLE of meaningful blood glucose testing and diabetes self-management.