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Clock on dinner plate -- When to Eat

When to Eat

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When you eat can be as important as what you eat, according to recent studies. Get some tips on when to eat based on the research…

Nuts and Health

Nuts and Health

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Studies have found that nuts have a wide variety of benefits for people with diabetes, including reduced heart disease and death…

Save Time Managing Diabetes

Save Time Managing Diabetes

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What is the biggest obstacle in effectively managing your diabetes? According to one study, “Not enough time.” Learn how to save time managing diabetes…

Diabetes and Marriage

Diabetes and Marriage

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When one member of a couple has diabetes, the other lives with it, too. Approaching diabetes as a team makes things better for both partners, so invite your partner to read this article with you…

Better Sex for Women With Diabetes

Better Sex for Women With Diabetes

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Studies highlighted by the National Institutes of Health have found that 27 percent of women with Type 1 diabetes and up to 42 percent of women with Type 2 report some kind of sexual dysfunction…

Diabetes in the Workplace

Diabetes In the Workplace

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Having diabetes can interfere with certain occupations, but there are ways to find and keep a job that’s right for you. Get experts tips on finding the right position, balancing work and life, asking for help, and more, from an employee rights attorney and a physician with Type 1 diabetes…

Ten Ways to Lower Blood Sugar

10 Ways to Lower Blood Sugar

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Diabetes is a disease of high blood sugar. Keeping blood sugar levels in target range can help reduce the risk of diabetes complications and improve your quality of life. Here are ten ways to lower blood sugar…

Radical Diet Reverses Type 2 Diabetes, But For How Long?

Radical Diet Reverses Type 2 Diabetes, But For How Long?

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A new study confirms that a radical low-calorie diet can reverse Type 2 diabetes. Most subjects reduced their HbA1c level below the diabetic range, without medication. But we don’t know how long these remissions will last. For most people, the answer may be probably not that long…

What Are Ketones in Urine?

What Are Ketones in Urine?

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What are ketones? How do they get into your urine, and why should you care? Learn what these substances are, how they relate to diabetes, symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis, and what to do if you have ketones in your urine…

What To Drink With Diabetes?

What To Drink With Diabetes?

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Is there anything good for diabetes you can buy in a bottle and drink? If not, what can you drink that’s healthy? Learn about what to drink with diabetes…

Herbs for Diabetes

Herbs for Diabetes

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Herbs, better called plant medicines, can often help manage blood sugar levels. Learn more about herbs for diabetes from nurse David Spero…

Is Diabetes a Disability?

Is Diabetes a Disability?

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Working a job with diabetes can be tough, sometimes impossible. If you run out of work options, you may qualify for disability pay. Here are some things to consider…

Elderly A1C Targets: Should Older People Have More Relaxed Glucose Goals?

Elderly A1C Targets

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You may have read that the lower your A1C level, the better. But some new research shows this may not be true for older people…

Sex & Diabetes

Sex and Diabetes

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When my neighbor Leon was diagnosed with diabetes, he had one fear. “Sex is very important to me. Will I still be able to have sex with diabetes?”

Traveling With Diabetes

Traveling With Diabetes

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Diabetes doesn’t take a vacation just because you do. Here are some guidelines on traveling with diabetes safely from experts and bloggers…

Blood Sugar Emotions

Blood Sugar, Emotions

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We like to think we’re in charge of our feelings, that we react appropriately to what the world brings us. But do we? Blood sugar changes may have more control over our feelings than we think…

Managing Gastroparesis

Managing Gastroparesis

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Poorly controlled diabetes can damage your stomach. It can interfere with eating and with digestion. This complication is called “gastroparesis…”

When to Check Blood Sugar

When to Check Blood Sugar

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Many people check their blood sugar at the same times every day, but I say this is a waste of time. When to check blood sugar? Some things to consider…

The Price of Insulin

The Price of Insulin

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The price of insulin has gone up on average roughly 200% since 2002. Here are some steps you can take to combat the rising costs…

Love and Diabetes

Love and Diabetes

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You know the diabetes program. Food and exercise, medications, glucose checks, stress reduction. But have you thought about where love fits?

Water and Diabetes: Water Is Life

Water Is Life

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The Indians at Standing Rock in North Dakota say “Water is life,” and “We are water.” Is that true for you? How much do you know about water and diabetes?

Handling Holiday Stress

Handling Holiday Stress

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Holidays can stress you out and make diabetes self-management harder. These tips can help you reduce the pressure and enjoy this time of year…

The Cost of Insulin

The Cost of Insulin

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The price of insulin has more than tripled in ten years. Not everybody pays full price, but many find the cost of insulin complicates their life…

Snoring and Diabetes

Snoring and Diabetes

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Snoring is hard on a marriage, and it’s definitely hard on diabetes. How can you snore less, sleep better, and improve insulin function in the process?

Promising Love in 2016

Promising Love in 2016

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Life is stressful for many of us, and diabetes doesn’t make it easier. Feeling loved makes us happier, but most people are unaware of how loved they are…

Using Insulin Safely

Using Insulin Safely

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Insulin is a lifesaving drug in diabetes. It can also be a dangerous drug, if misused. Do you know how to use insulin safely?

Diabetes and Pregnancy

Diabetes and Pregnancy

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If you have diabetes or prediabetes and you want a child, can you do it? What will you be getting yourself into? If you’re considering children, here are some things you should know…

Too Many Diabetes Drugs?

Too Many Diabetes Drugs?

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Good news: Science has come up with dozens of drugs for diabetes. Bad news: Many people take too many drugs and suffer serious negative effects. What drugs are you on and how are they working for you?

Diabetes Pain Management With Or Without Drugs

Diabetes Pain Management With Or Without Drugs

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Studies say 20% to 60% of people with diabetes have chronic pain. Neuropathy in the feet, back pain, joint pain, and headaches can make life pretty miserable. There are drugs for pain management, but in recent years good non-drug approaches have also been studied…

Ketones and Diabetes

Ketones and Diabetes

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What do you know about ketones? These molecules come up often in diabetes discussions and sometimes cause serious problems. What are they and how do they matter to you?

Okra for Diabetes

Okra for Diabetes

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Okra is a vegetable used in cooking in warm climates. Recently, some websites have posted that it is a “diabetes cure.” What is the science on okra? How can it help you?

Bitter Melon Diabetes News

Bitter Melon Diabetes News

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The case for bitter melon in diabetes keeps looking better and better. New information and new products have come out, though there are still no large studies on humans…

Dogs for diabetes

Dogs for Diabetes

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Some say dogs are the best medicine for people with diabetes. In at least seven ways, dogs can make your life with diabetes better…

Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetes and Your Nerves (Part 1)

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Diabetes can harm your nerves. That damage, called neuropathy, may be painful. It can cause numbness, poor digestion, fainting, sexual dysfunction, and other symptoms. What can we do about it?

Loving food

Loving Food Again

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Diabetes has spiritual symptoms as well as physical ones. One is making an enemy of food. If you see food as a danger instead of a blessing, you have suffered a loss. How can we learn to love what gives us life?

Diabetes and exercise

Take the First Step

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Good news! You don’t have to do much to get most of the benefits of exercise. You just have to do SOMETHING! As little as 20 minutes a day is OK…

Stretching and diabetes

Stretching for Diabetes

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For most people, exercise means aerobics like walking or running, or strength training. But another form of exercise — stretching — can have equally important benefits…

Vinegar for diabetes

Vinegar for Diabetes? Yes!

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Vinegar is a two-cents-per-dose medication. It reliably lowers after-meal and fasting blood sugar in many people. Yet few people with diabetes take it, maybe because we don’t know enough about it. So here’s a quick overview…

Improvising with diabetes

Improvising With Diabetes

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They say that diabetes management means living a routine. Food, exercise, medicine — same times, measured quantities, day after day. But life rarely stays routine. Sometimes we need to improvise…

Diabetes and your thyroid

Diabetes and Your Thyroid

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Here’s another way that diabetes impacts your whole body. Thyroid hormones affect your insulin function, and insulin can affect the thyroid gland…

Basal insulin

How Do You Use Basal Insulin?

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When the first long-lasting basal insulin analogs came out, they were supposed to last 24 hours. You injected once a day. That schedule clearly doesn’t work for everyone. Why is that, and what works for you?

Diabetes and Your Bladder

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Some diabetes complications are more dangerous, but few are more annoying than diabetic bladder. You can’t pee when you want to, or you go when you don’t want to, or both. What causes diabetes bladder symptoms, and what can we do to prevent and manage them?

diabetes resolutions

Good Diabetes Resolutions

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New Year’s resolutions are usually setups for frustration. But if you do them right, they can get you moving. So what makes a good diabetes resolution?

Love Hormone Treats Diabetes

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Is love a diabetes treatment? Studies are finding that oxytocin, the “love hormone” or “bonding hormone,” improves health in diabetes. More love equals lower glucose levels…

Preventing Diabetes Accidents

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Nobody expects accidents. That’s what makes them accidents. But the element of surprise is misleading. The actual events seem like bad luck, but our environment, our health, and our behavior set them up. Most accidents can be prevented by safe behaviors and being aware of our environments…

Sleep for Diabetes

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According to recent research, sleep is as important for health as diet and exercise. Lack of sleep raises blood sugars and insulin resistance. With enough sleep, our bodies can heal and repair. Without sleep, they get sicker…

What Is Depression?

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Lately the things I used to enjoy, even loved, have come to seem boring or not worth the effort. Watching the animals and birds, listening to people, playing games, writing about diabetes — even sex seems like too much work. Am I depressed?

Self-Manage Your Blood Pressure

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With diabetes, controlling blood pressure is as important as controlling blood sugar. You can self-manage blood pressure, but most doctors don’t tell you how. Here are some clues…

Anxiety and Grief

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My phone client Roscoe was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes three years ago. He’s doing well, with an A1C of 5.9. “But I’m still scared,” he told me. “And I’m still sad. Do these feelings ever go away?”

Money Is Strong Diabetes Medicine

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The less money you have, the more likely you are to have diabetes and other conditions. Studies find that giving people money improves their health. Why is that, and what can we do with that information?

Why Bother About Sex?

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Diabetes brings many demands. Maya, a recently diagnosed woman, told me “I don’t have time or energy to think about sex right now.” But there are many reasons to have a good sex life with diabetes, and many ways to do it…

Doing Your Own Research

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Doctors used to be the only source of medical information. Not anymore. You can get much of the same information they have on the Internet. Problem is, not all of the information you’ll come across online is good. Here are some ways to empower yourself with good Internet research…

Bang for Your Self-Management Buck

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You can’t learn all the steps required to manage diabetes at once. Whether you’re experienced or a newbie, what do you focus on now and what do you get to later? One way to decide is to ask, “What activity will give me the most bang for the buck?”

New SGLT Drugs Coming

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SGLT1 and 2 are proteins that move glucose out of the intestines and kidneys. Blocking them might keep glucose in the intestines and cause more glucose to be urinated out via the kidneys, lowering blood sugar levels. That’s what “SGLT inhibitor” drugs try to do…

Lower Your Blood Sugar — Eat Slower

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Two years ago, a European study found that people who eat faster have two-and-half times more chance of developing diabetes. Now there is more evidence that slow eating is a powerful diabetes treatment…

Insulin for Type 2

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Doctors are starting people with Type 2 diabetes on insulin sooner, sometimes at diagnosis. But two recent studies give reason to question this treatment. If you have Type 2, is insulin right for you?

Good Control Now = Lifetime Benefit

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Two famous studies showed that tight control of glucose did not cause a statistically significant reduction in heart attacks or early death. But roughly 20 years after the studies ended, tight control subjects are living longer and healthier than those who were in the comparison groups. What is going on?

Diabetes: They’re Working On It

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At least people pay attention to diabetes now. Thousands of scientists are researching it. Many of them came to San Francisco last week to share their findings, and I was lucky to be there. I’ll write about it for the next several weeks…

Exercise or Have Fun?

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Is exercise good for you? Kind of, but recent studies show that having active fun is better. If physical activity (exercise) is seen as work, or as something you have to do, it’s not as healthful…

Obamacare and Diabetes — Year Two

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What does the Affordable Care Act (the ACA, also known as “Obamacare”) mean for people with diabetes? ACA makes some changes that should help people with diabetes, and some that maybe aren’t so good…

The Most You Will Ever Get

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A wise woman once told me, “The most you’ll ever get is what you ask for.” I have used that as a guide for the last 30 years. I call asking for help “my superpower.” It has served me well…

Do You Feel Sexy?

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Are you attractive, even with diabetes? I admit to not feeling that attractive in my wheelchair sometimes, but maybe that’s just a lack of self-esteem. Diabetes or no, do you think you look good? Do you feel sexy?

Hypertension and Diabetes: Evil Twins

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How is your blood pressure? Studies show that high blood pressure (also known as hypertension or HTN) can cause and worsen many diabetes complications. So what makes blood pressure go up, and how can you get it down?

Worried About Diabetes?

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I’m a worrying kind of guy. If the light is green, I worry about how long I have until it turns red. But does worrying help when you have a condition like diabetes? I’m starting to think it doesn’t…

Farewell to Rachel

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My mother-in-law died last week. It wasn’t a tragedy. She was 93 years old and died peacefully in her sleep, without apparent pain. But it got me thinking about death and other scary things…

Diabetes Takes Courage

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When you think about diabetes self-management, does the word “courage” ever come to mind? I think living with diabetes is a hero’s journey. It takes courage to face diabetes’ crew of monsters…

The Stress Formula

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Stress is a major contributor to diabetes, but most people don’t understand what stress really is. Here’s how stress works, and some things you can do about it…

Why Are Animals Getting Fat?

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We’ve all heard about the obesity epidemic. People are getting fatter, and this may relate to Type 2 diabetes rates. But did you know that animals are getting fatter too? What do fat animals tell us about human weight issues?

Getting Real About Diabetes Food Advice

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Most diabetes food plans sound healthy. Eat vegetables, fruits, unsaturated fats, whole grains, nuts, fish, things like that. But is that advice realistic? Many people can’t afford, can’t find, or don’t like most of these foods. Then what?

Generic Drug Costs Can Be Crazy

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Has this happened to you? You go to refill a generic prescription, and the price has jumped by 100%, or even 1000%. Huge price swings in generics are happening more often, and nobody is sure why…

Can You Be Happy With Diabetes?

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Most people want to be happy, but diabetes can make it hard. There are the things you don’t want to do, like monitoring blood glucose levels, taking medicines, seeing doctors. Then there are the things you shouldn’t do, like eat whatever you want. Do these challenges interfere with happiness?

Why All the Drama?

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Have you noticed how people need drama in their lives? If they don’t have anything to worry about, they create something. People with diabetes don’t have to create. Diabetes brings plenty of drama. But is drama good or bad? If it’s bad, how can we get rid of it?

Looking Back to 2013

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Barack Obama says, “Look forward, not back.” But I think we need to look back. If we don’t know where we’ve been, how do we know where to go?

Prayer Medicine

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Stress can kill, and fear is behind most of our stress. Unfortunately, we have an awful lot to be afraid of these days. At Christmastime, I wonder if prayer can help us deal with our fears, and maybe even with the causes of those fears…

Do You Eat Organ Meats?

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All you Paleo diet fans out there, this one’s for you! I recently started eating organ meats twice a week. Although it hasn’t been easy, I feel stronger already…

Statins

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According to new guidelines, everyone with diabetes should take a statin drug to lower cholesterol. It doesn’t matter how low his cholesterol already is…

What Keeps You Going?

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What inspires you? When things are hard with diabetes or any other part of your life, where do you get the strength to keep going? Or to try something new? I have found some ways, but they don’t always work…

Diabetes and the “Obesity Paradox”

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We hear constant warnings about how fatness leads to diabetes. But a wide range of studies show heavy people live longer and do better with diabetes and heart disease. This is called the “obesity paradox.” What does it mean?

Who Would You Be Without Diabetes?

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Chronic illness is part of me, and I wish it wasn’t so much. I wonder if the same is true for you. When you think about who you are, is “person with diabetes” near the top of the list? How has diabetes changed you? Who would you be without it?

Bodies Like Being Fat

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Some people say they can’t lose weight, but almost anyone can lose. The problem is keeping the weight off. Very few people (5% in studies) maintain weight loss over the long term. Why do our bodies regain weight, and what can we learn from that?

Unwanted Advice

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What do you do with advice from ignorant people who think they know more about diabetes than you do? When people tell you could be cured if you tried out some idea they read on a Web site, how do you respond?

Generics Versus Brand-Name Drugs

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Are generic drugs as good as their brand-name rivals? Hopefully yes, as millions of people rely on generics to make medicines affordable. Is the claimed superiority of brand-name drugs just advertising, or is there a real difference?

Should You Rely on Your Doctor?

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We gave our neighbor Sylvie a ride to her doctor. In the car, the talk turned to medicines. Sylvie said she was on seven or eight drugs. She didn’t remember what they were all for, but said, “I leave that up to my doctor…”

Good Stress

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They say good stress can cause as many problems as bad stress. I don’t know, but I’m learning, because a couple of weeks filled with “good” stress are kind of knocking me out…

Afraid of Diabetes

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Does diabetes scare you? I know multiple sclerosis (MS) scares me. Both diseases can progress and cripple our lives. How does fear of diabetes affect your life, and more important, what do you do about it?

Top Fifteen Things I’ve Learned About Diabetes

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I’ve been writing this blog each week for over six years now, so I’ve had to come up with a lot of ideas. Fortunately, readers give me many of them. Here are the fifteen best things I’ve learned. (To read more about any of them, click on the provided links…)

UK Doc: Type 2 Often Curable

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According to Dr. Roy Taylor of the United Kingdom’s University of Newcastle, we need to change our understanding of what causes Type 2 diabetes. Then we can treat it and reverse it. What is this new understanding?

How Do You Keep Diabetes Logs?

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One of the most important self-management skills is keeping logs of health-related information. Do you do that? What do you keep records of? Are you consistent with logging, and does it help?

Start With Three Drugs?

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A new study says that people newly diagnosed with Type 2 can do better if they are immediately started on a three-drug combo. Does this make sense to you? Is it good science or bad medicine?

The Right Germs: Gut Bacteria and Diabetes

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Type 2 diabetes tends to run in families: If parents have it, children are likely to get it too. But is that because of having similar genes, or similar behaviors? Maybe it’s neither. Maybe it’s having the same kind of bacteria in their guts…

Perfection, Diabetes Don’t Mix

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“I can’t do this anymore,” a 17-year-old woman named Lia posted here. “I can’t control [my glucose]… I know I am responsible for myself, but…I find it extremely hard to do everything…when it is needed. Please help me!”

Do You Meditate?

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Last Monday, I went to my first meditation class. For years, I have heard that meditation reduces stress, increases energy, and improves focus. It might also open the doors to spiritual growth. I’m finally giving it a try…

Two Lovely Days

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Life can be hard, especially with a chronic illness. But there can still be times of beauty, fun, and love. I had two days like that over the weekend, and even though I paid a price for them, I think they were worth it…

Depression — Taking the First Step

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We know what lightens depression. Exercise, sunshine, social contact, laughter, and avoiding sugars are some ways supported by studies. But how can you start do things like that when you’re feeling down, hopeless, depressed?

Accepting Everything — Even Diabetes

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I’ve had a pretty easy life, but illness has thrown some curves. Giving up sports, then dancing, then walking, things like that. For me, the key has been acceptance. We have to accept a situation before we can deal with it or change it…

How Important Is CoQ10?

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I’m not much of a dietary supplements guy. But months of wildly irregular heartbeats will get people to try new things. A friend told me coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) had fixed her heart rhythm…

Healing Leaky Livers

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It may surprise you to know that, for many people, Type 2 diabetes is primarily a liver disease. The pancreas damage comes later. Is there anything we can do to heal a diabetic liver?

Can Beta Cells Be Healed?

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Can Type 2 or Type 1 diabetes be not only reversed, but cured? Can beta cells start producing enough insulin? Can the liver store glucose better, and can body cells learn to handle glucose more efficiently?

No Starches, No Sugars — Then What?

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People around the world are eating low-carbohydrate diets to treat their diabetes. But all plant foods, other than seeds, are carbs. So what can you eat? Is it all animal products, or are there other options?

Working With Doctors

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Sometimes doctors can be your best diabetes friends. Others seem to be part of the problem. How do you find a good doctor and work well with him? What does a person new to diabetes need to know about working with doctors?

Drugs for Diabetes Pain

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Pain researcher Rebecca Sudore, MD, says, “Adults living with Type 2 diabetes are suffering from incredibly high rates of pain, at levels similar to patients living with cancer.” Sounds awful. But what can we do about it? Actually, quite a bit…

“Reversing” Type 2 Diabetes

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Health professionals usually call Type 2 diabetes a chronic, progressive illness. “Chronic” means you’ll always have it. “Progressive” means you will almost certainly get worse. The best you can hope for is to slow its progression through your diet, exercise, and oral medicine or insulin. The diagnosis of a chronic, progressive condition can feel like having a curse put on you…

Metformin Without the Misery

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What if you could get all the benefits of metformin, but without the abdominal pain, diarrhea, gas, and vomiting that this medicine often brings? Well, such a treatment exists, and it works. Why hasn’t it come to market?

Learning About Sick Days

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How appropriate! I was going to blog about sick days, and then I got the flu myself. I’m writing this from bed, thanks to my laptop. It’s not actually much fun, but I guess I’ll call it research…

Drink More Water

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Last month I was taken to the emergency room because my blood pressure dropped. It turned out I had gone low because of dehydration. I’m really embarrassed because I hadn’t realized how important hydration is…

How Healthy Do You Think You Are?

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Does your health largely depend on how healthy you think you are? Studies show that people who rate their health positively are far less likely to die than those who think they are unwell, even when results were adjusted for actual medical condition…

When You Were Diagnosed

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My publisher wants a book for people new to Type 2. Can you help? What do you remember about your diagnosis? What information and support could you have used at that stressful time, and did you receive it?

Meat and Diabetes

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Singer Chaka Khan says she reversed her Type 2 diabetes with a vegan diet. We know from several studies that vegetarian and vegan (no meat, fish, eggs, dairy, or honey) diets help prevent, control, and even reverse diabetes. But how do they do that?

Are Small Amounts of Sweets OK?

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Doctors used to think sugars were terrible for diabetes. Then the American Diabetes Association (ADA) changed their minds. They said it’s the carbs that matter, and sugars were just another carb. Now some scientists are saying sugar is poison. Who’s right?

Chocolate As Diabetes Medicine

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I used to say chocolate tasted great, but if you thought it was a health food, you were kidding yourself. But research shows that chocolate helps manage diabetes, prevents heart disease, and improves mood. Is this too good to be true?

Toxic Chemicals and Type 1

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Last week I wrote about research showing that environmental chemicals are major causes of Type 2. There is also surprising evidence for toxics promoting Type 1. Let’s look at that data this week, before next week looking at what we can do about it…

Toxic Chemicals and Diabetes

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Diabetes epidemics have followed the standard American diet across the world. The starches, sugars, and saturated fats in mass-produced foods would seem to be the cause. But maybe not. There are other nasty things in those packages…

Driving With Diabetes

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Has diabetes affected your experience of driving? It can. How about getting licensed to drive? In some states, diabetes can make obtaining a driver license much harder…

Coping With Lows

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Do you struggle with low blood glucose levels? What do you do to prevent them and get them back up? Let’s look at what some experts suggest…

Diabetes Balancing Act

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You probably know that diabetes requires balancing food intake, exercise, and medications. I think any chronic illness like diabetes involves other balancing acts as well. How do you manage some of these balances?

Do You Feel Deprived?

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Chronic illness takes things away from you. But diabetes can take away more than most. Do you ever feel deprived by diabetes? How do you cope with those feelings?

Love and Health

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How important is love for your health? Some people report that love has had a healing effect on their life and health. Has love or lack of it made a difference for you?

Why is Type 1 Surging?

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With all the publicity about a Type 2 diabetes epidemic, an equally scary rise in rates of Type 1 has been ignored. What is causing the surge in Type 1 diabetes? Does it have anything to do with the Type 2 explosion?

Foods’ Strange Tricks

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You sit down to eat. How will your meal affect your blood glucose? If you’re on insulin, how much should you take? Turns out that counting carbohydrate will not always give you the answer. Food can affect you in strange ways.

Are You a Fighter?

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What do you need to live well with diabetes, or any chronic illness? Knowledge and support are crucial. But fighting spirit is just as important. Not to give up, not to let others take control of your life and health.

Vegetables to the Rescue

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Many experts say that people with diabetes shouldn’t eat much flour or sugar. I agree. But other nutritional authorities don’t want you to eat saturated fats, either. So what CAN you eat? My answer: Try vegetables!

Diabetes Complications Dropping

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Fewer people with diabetes are suffering leg amputation, blindness, and deaths from heart disease or stroke. This hopeful trend has been on for about 15 years. But what accounts for it, and how can you benefit?

Thankful for Diabetes?

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Is there any reason to give thanks for diabetes? Is it crazy to ask? Maybe. But I know I’ve experienced some gains from chronic illness. I’d give it back in an instant if I could, but still… Have you found any upside to diabetes?

Your Diabetes and Your Family

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Diabetes is hard on the person who has it. But it also affects your children and the rest of your family. How can we make living with diabetes easier — even positive — for ourselves and our loved ones?

Mindful Glucose Monitoring

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Self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) has been around since 1975. Now, many people with diabetes check their glucose levels regularly. But some large studies question whether all those fingersticks really help. What do you think?

What Causes Type 2 — Genes or Food?

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There’s a major split in the Type 2 diabetes world. Some believe Type 2 is all about diet (and maybe exercise.) Others say it’s mostly a genetic illness and that diet doesn’t make much difference. Who’s right?

Comfort Eating With Diabetes

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Do you ever eat for comfort? Does emotional eating affect your diabetes management? If your answer is yes, you are one of millions. How can we get some of that comfort without spiking blood sugar levels?

Beans Will Rock Your World

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I’ve started eating a lot more beans. Why? They are healthy and cheap. They make me feel good, and it turns out they taste great if you prepare them right. Research shows that beans are even better if you have diabetes…

Are You a Role Model?

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Do you think of yourself as a role model? By coping with diabetes and your other problems, do you inspire others? Might be worth thinking about…

Crying as Medicine

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At one time or another, nearly all of us have felt better after a good cry. But does crying help our physical and mental health as well? Research says that tears and sobs can be beneficial, even healing…

Your Year in Review

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This is the time of year for remembering. But some years there has been too much pain and sorrow, so now I focus on remembering only good things. It seems to be working…

How Important is Diabetes to You?

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It’s a time of year for reflection, so here are some possible questions. How big a part does diabetes play in your life? Is managing it your top priority? Is “person with diabetes” an important part of your identity?

Diabetes in Hard Times

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For three years now, people have been losing their homes and their jobs because of the 2008 economic “collapse” and ongoing hard times. How is that affecting diabetes?

Limits, Faith, and Diabetes

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There’s a saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Her your plans.” A chronic illness is like a message from the universe or God saying “Stop planning and start living.” This message has the power to change lives in wonderful ways…

Who Do You Talk To?

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I love my multiple sclerosis (MS) support group. I look forward to seeing my friends and sharing experiences. Nobody else understands as well what I’m going through. People with diabetes report similar benefits from groups. But most people with diabetes or MS never come to such groups…

Paying for Diabetes

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What’s your biggest diabetes fear? Complications are scary, but for many, the biggest fear is that diabetes will reduce them to poverty. Others fear that they don’t have enough money for good care or needed supplies…

Finding a Good Doctor

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Web Editor Diane Fennell reported last week that frequent doctor visits help people get their diabetes under control. But what if doctor visits are stressful and unpleasant (not to mention expensive)? How do you find a doctor who actually helps you?

Is Continuous Glucose Monitoring Worth It?

Updated

Continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGMS) may not make life with diabetes any easier. But they can definitely improve health, if you can deal with the hassle and expense. So how do you know if such a system is right for you?

Exploring Your Family History

Updated

As author Carol Daus says in her book Past Imperfect, “Tracing your family medical history can save your life.” Learn how to start your search from nurse David Spero…

Becoming a Grandfather

Updated

Can’t write about diabetes today. Or self-care, or the medical system, or science, or politics, or any of that stuff. Our granddaughter Anaya Grace was born on Saturday, and she has taken most of my mental space…

Fear, Anger, Action

Updated

Many of us spent last week surrounded by fear, the media telling us nonstop to be afraid. Since I don’t believe much in the media, I ignored it as best I could. But it reminded me of my feelings about chronic illness — how powerlessness, fear, and anger can make us miserable and interfere with our lives…

Craving Carbs

Updated

Last week, feeling depressed, I found myself in front of a Chinese grocery. I bought a pint of curried rice noodles and sat at the bus stop eating them right out of the box. They were delicious. Just plain little noodles with bits of cabbage, but yum!

Change Your Environment

Updated

There’s a whole new trend in self-management programs — don’t change yourself or what you do. Instead, change your environment to make healthy behavior easier. Stop beating your head against a brick wall. Take down the wall, or at least pad it!

Should You Be Tested for MODY?

Updated

Diabetes is frequently misdiagnosed. For one example, people are often told they have Type 1 or Type 2, when they actually have MODY, sometimes called maturity-onset diabetes of the young or monogenic diabetes. Might you be one of them? And should you care?

Bored With Diabetes?

Updated

“What I hate most about diabetes,” Marilyn told a support group I was speaking at, “is that it’s so much work. It takes too much of my time and concentration. It’s boring! I’m tired of it. I want some time off…”

Sex in Vegas

Updated

Hey, team: I’m speaking in Las Vegas next week at the annual meeting of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. The talk is called “Sex Secrets of People with Diabetes.” The title refers to the sex problems we don’t talk about, and the solutions that are also rarely mentioned…

Sugar-Free Poetry

Updated

It’s not often you read a book that’s written especially for you. But a new book called No-Sugar Added Poetry speaks directly to people with diabetes, because it’s written by 26 people who live with diabetes every day…

Faith Healing

Updated

When I had almost finished writing my first book, The Art of Getting Well, I was overcome with doubts. Was it any good? Would anyone want to read it? Could I do the promotion and marketing that would be necessary? I didn’t know…

Is Weight Loss a Good Goal?

Updated

Most diabetes docs and educators recommend weight loss. I think that’s a losing strategy for most (not all) people. The weight nearly always comes back, bringing glucose and blood pressure back up with it. But why is sustained weight loss so difficult?

Dance Out Diabetes

Updated

I went to a program called Dance Out Diabetes last Saturday. Twenty people were dancing, learning new steps, socializing, and having fun. There were also certified diabetes educators on hand to measure our blood glucose, A1C, weight, and blood pressure. I got a great feeling from it that lasted all day…

Tibetan Medicine Worth a Look

Updated

I’m seeing a Tibetan herbal doctor for my multiple sclerosis (MS), and his treatment seems to be helping. I feel great. Tibetan medicine has been shown to significantly reduce fasting and post-meal glucose levels, and A1C levels, too. So you might want to check this out…

Diabetes and Your House

Updated

How often do you think about the influence your house or apartment has on your health? Well, think about it. Where you live can have a bigger health impact than diet or exercise…

Gastric Bands Too Dangerous

Updated

Gastric banding is all the rage. Seems like everybody’s banding. But how safe and how effective is this surgery? Does it “resolve diabetes,” as surgeons claim? I used to think so. But I was wrong. As years go by, complications and failure become more and more common…

Cats or Dogs — Which is Healthier?

Updated

They say pet ownership protects health and improves quality of life. If that’s true, what kind of pet should you have? A dog, a cat, a fish, or what? I’m sure you’ve been wondering. Recent studies give us some leads…

Why Stop Smoking?

Updated

I started to write a stop smoking column. But after researching nicotine, I’m thinking of taking the habit up myself. Yes, it kills more people than all the other bad habits I can think of put together. It makes diabetes far worse. But what a drug!

Diabetes and Your Work

Updated

Diabetes and work don’t always mix. How do you manage food, medicines, rest, monitoring, exercise, and work, especially if you’ve got demands, deadlines, and a boss who’s sweating you? How do you deal with the stress?

Touch as Medicine

Updated

“The worst thing about living alone is missing the hugs,” 70-year-old Angie told me. Angie’s husband recently died, but she is not isolated. She sees people in the community all the time. But she misses the physical contact…

Mobility Scooter Meltdown

Updated

Taking a page from Jan and Eric’s blogs to tell a personal story. Like many disabled people, I rely on my mobility scooter to get around. Twice now, I’ve been sold defective scooters. But this time I fought back, and after ten months, I won!

Where The Sugar Comes From

Updated

Why are diabetes rates rising around the world? One possible culprit is the increased amount of sugar people are eating. Most sugar isn’t white powder spooned into tea or frosting on a cake. It’s hidden. Where is it, and where did it come from?

The Mystery of Coffee and Diabetes

Updated

Is coffee good or bad for diabetes? Some studies show that coffee is protective, while others say it’s harmful. Some say decaf is better; others say it’s worse. Let’s try to sort this out…

Learning From Diabetes

Updated

If diabetes were a college professor, nobody would sign up for his class. But those forced to take it might learn things that would help them succeed in other areas. What does diabetes teach, and how are you doing in your class?

Diabetes and Your Hands

Diabetes and Your Hands

Published

Did you know that diabetes can hurt, stiffen, and even disable your shoulders, wrists, fingers, and other joints? None of these conditions is well understood. So how can you prevent them and deal with them?

Stopping Diabetes Medicines

Updated

“I want to get off some of these drugs,” Ellen told me. “But my doctor says I need them. I’m on three for glucose, two for blood pressure, and one for depression. They’re costing me hundreds every month. What can I do?”

Accept or Change?

Updated

You probably know the Serenity Prayer — “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can change, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Talk about easier said than done!

Getting Back to Sleep

Updated

“I don’t think I have insomnia,” said Mabel, a 63-year-old elementary school teacher with Type 2 diabetes. “I go right to sleep at 10 PM. But I wake up to pee, and I can’t sleep again. I start thinking about things, and my brain just keeps running…”

Successful Medical Appointments

Updated

A coaching client named Sally told me, “My medical appointments sometimes seem like wastes of time. [My doctor] doesn’t answer my questions. I always leave there feeling like, what do I do now? I don’t know if he’s even heard me…”

Refusing Medical Treatments

Updated

It takes courage to speak up to doctors and experts and say “No!” to their tests and treatments. But sometimes that’s the best thing you can do, because otherwise they may do things that you really don’t want…

Alone With Diabetes

Updated

“It’s strange,” said Margaret, diagnosed with Type 1.5 (LADA) ten years ago. “Managing diabetes as a single Mom with two teenage daughters was tough. But now that they have gone to college, I’m doing worse. Lately, I hardly plan meals or check my glucose at all…”

Your Body: Love It or Leave It

Updated

My e-mail auto-signature reads “Love your body. Love your life.” I think loving your body is a key for health. But in practice, bodies can be hard to love, especially when they’re sick, or disabled, or don’t fit media images of “beautiful…”

Dealing With Diabetes Fatigue

Updated

“My days have been getting shorter,” Ron (who has Type 2 diabetes) told me. “I sleep ten hours a night and still need naps in the day. Even when I’m awake, I’m dragging. What can I do?” Ron’s doctor wasn’t much help…

Two Nights, Two Celebrations

Updated

I’m feeling good about people these days. I spent the last two evenings in the streets, enjoying other people having fun. Maybe a key to happiness is not spending too much time alone. But maybe it was an “only in San Francisco” thing…

Learning Our Limits

Updated

I’m not happy to have multiple sclerosis, and I’m pretty sure you would prefer not to have diabetes. No one wants a chronic illness — they take up too much space. But illness has taught me valuable lessons that have opened my life…

Dealing With Hunger

Updated

My friend James usually manages his Type 2 diabetes quite well. He eats right, exercises, and all that good stuff. But last week, something went wrong. He had a tough Thursday at his job, worked through lunch, and got yelled at by his supervisor…

Prejudiced Against Ourselves?

Updated

Do people ever treat you as if diabetes makes you a second-class citizen, or makes you damaged goods? Do people blame you for diabetes? Such prejudice is sometimes called “healthism,” referring to the belief that healthier people are superior to people who are less well…

Do You Need More People?

Updated

When Child Protective Services (CPS) placed 6-year-old Antonio with his grandfather Miguel (“Mike”), I couldn’t believe it. I don’t want to say my neighbor Mike was antisocial, but the only time anyone saw him was on his four-times-a-day walks to the corner store for beer…

Why “Healthy” Foods Aren’t Always

Updated

On WebMD’s Diabetes Community, a reader named damondj wrote, “I have been eating a lot of sugar free cakes… I’ve been feeling real tired lately… [and today my blood sugar] read 262.” Damondj is learning that “fat-free,” “sugar-free,” and “natural” labels don’t necessarily mean that a food is good for you…

Activity Yes, Exercise Maybe

Updated

I’m often preaching about the value of physical activity, but physical activity doesn’t always mean exercise. Even when you do exercise, there’s no need to spend money and travel to a fancy gym. There are some better ways to move…

Diabetes on the Web

Updated

After sex, health is probably the most popular topic on the World Wide Web. News sites, support groups, newsletters and magazines, blogs, and product promotions compete for our attention. Which sites work for you, and how do you best use the Web for your health?

New Research on the Pleasure Cure

Updated

What do coffee, wine, sex, massage, pets, naps, fun, and laughter have in common? In proper amounts, they all seem to reduce blood glucose and inflammation, protecting against diabetes. Perhaps we’ll be healthier if we focus less on the hard stuff and make more time for pleasure…

How Studies Can Mislead

Updated

Don’t you hate it when a new food or drug study comes out, telling you that all previous studies were wrong? How are you supposed to trust studies, or even make sense of them, when they disagree with each other?

Small Steps

Updated

Last week I wrote about Ingrid, who went from a complete couch potato (with an A1C above 12%) to an active, positive woman who makes other people feel good (and has an A1C of less than 8%.) This week I want to go into some nuts and bolts of making such big changes…

One Step at a Time

Updated

Change is hard. We know that. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the demands of trying to stay healthy with diabetes. But if we take small steps and don’t give up, we can improve our own lives and the lives of people around us…

Cinnamon and Other Herbal Remedies

Updated

Can herbs and spices replace some or all diabetes medicines? For some people they can, but you have to be really careful with these and any other alternative treatments. Here are some herbal approaches to managing diabetes and some things to consider if you want to try them…

Beyond Diet and Exercise

Updated

One thing writing this blog and reading comments for over three years has taught me: Living well with diabetes means much more than just diet, exercise, and medicines…

Controlling Blood Pressure

Updated

Diabetes care usually focuses on blood glucose. But blood pressure (BP) is just as important. High blood glucose and high blood pressure (also called “hypertension”) can both damage blood vessels, in similar ways. So you want to control your pressure. But how?

More Meaningful Than We Know

Updated

Lately, I’ve been struggling with “what am I doing here” thoughts. I’ve been kind of down, and someone noticed and reminded me of this story. It helped me, and I thought it might help you too…

Coping With Bad News

Updated

I’ve spent much of the last two weeks cleaning out my mother-in-law’s apartment. She had to move into a board and care home. It’s been kind of sad seeing all the things she used to be in all the pictures and papers she kept…

Eggs and Dairy Now “Heart Healthy”

Updated

Do changes in official dietary advice make you crazy? Well, prepare to go nuts, because the advice is changing again: New studies find that eating eggs and dairy products does NOT contribute to diabetes or heart disease. They may, in fact, be protective…

No More Mr. Nice Girl

Updated

When Cindy Wong was 45, she already had hypertension, thyroid disease, and clinical depression. “I wasn’t taking care of myself,” she remembers, which is understandable, as her husband had left her with a rebellious daughter, two aging parents, and a stressful job…

Sleep is the Best Medicine

Updated

Want to live longer? Get more sleep. A new study from the New England Research Institutes shows that waking more than twice a night to urinate increased mortality risk 50% among men and more than 30% among women. Nocturnal awakenings to use the bathroom also doubled the mortality risk in people younger than 65…

The Rhythm of Health

Updated

Imagine you’re a car. Would you do better cruising down the freeway with your wheels maintaining a steady pace, or would you rather be stuck in stop-and-go city traffic, speeding up, slowing down, never getting a chance to run smoothly? Which way would you get better mileage? Which way would your engine last longer?

The Alcohol—Vinegar Cure

Updated

Here are two prescriptions I can go for: Drink some wine; eat some salad dressing. Recent studies show that 1–2 alcoholic drinks a day appear to cut the risk of diabetes by 45% and that 2 tablespoons of vinegar before a meal lowers blood glucose levels after the meal…

The Healing Value of Fun

Updated

“I don’t exercise,” says my friend Alfred Gee, “I bargain hunt. I like to take the bus downtown and go to different stores. I compare prices and quality and have a great time, especially when I save some money. It takes hours, but I’m retired, so why not have some fun? By the time I get home, I’ve walked four or five miles. I’ve tricked myself into exercising…”

For the Veterans

Updated

A Vietnam veteran friend of mine finally qualified for disability benefits last week, only 40 years after he was first disabled in the war, and 20 years after being diagnosed with diabetes. He finally had a major stroke, after a series of small ones…

Can Diabetes Save Your Life?

Updated

This is rather amazing. A very large study finds that people with diabetes mellitus (DM) may be less likely to die when admitted to intensive care for other conditions. People without diabetes actually may have a greater risk of intensive care death…

Why We Need Reasons to Live

Updated

If you don’t have a reason to get out of bed in the morning, it won’t matter how healthy you are, will it? If you don’t have pleasures, positive goals, love, or meaning in your life, why bother with self-management? We all need reasons to live, but sometimes we don’t have them or we forget what they are…

Shivering in Alaska

Updated

Fairbanks in February is not a tourist destination. Yes, I had a nice time at the diabetes expo. Led a workshop on “diabetes for couples” and gave a talk on succeeding at self-care. Sold some books, made some friends. All in all, I feel lucky to have survived…

Loving Louisiana

Updated

The first leg of my two-stop, cross-country trip went great. I led an all-day seminar for nurses called “New Solutions to Diabetes” in Lafayette, Louisiana. What an interesting place!

Mixed Feelings on Tech

Updated

For a long time, I was skeptical, even critical, of technological progress. I saw cars taking over the landscape and polluting the air. I saw people turning into Kewpie dolls in front of their TV sets. I saw countries’ wealth and brain power devoted to inventing ever more awful weapons…

Neither 1 Nor 2

Updated

In response to my recent blog entry asking what people wish health professionals knew about diabetes, Michael Barker commented about “ketosis-prone diabetics,” of which he is one. Thank you, Michael. Ketosis-prone diabetes, or “KPD,” as it’s called, is an important and growing problem…

What Do You Wish They Knew?

Updated

I got some good news last week. I’ve been invited to speak to health professionals in Louisiana and to people with diabetes in Alaska. And they’re paying me! Now I have to figure out what to tell them, so I’m asking for your advice…

Watch Your Mouth!

Updated

What health condition has killed the most adult humans since the beginning of recorded time? Most likely it was gum disease (also called “periodontitis”). Before modern food processing made food soft and mushy, people who lost their teeth couldn’t eat natural food. So they became weak and died. Unfortunately, gum disease may still be a killer for people with diabetes…

Sunshine in a Bottle

Updated

This time of year, sunshine is hard to find in the Northern Hemisphere. Days are shorter, and the sun shines at a lower angle. Lack of sun is thought to be a cause of seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. SAD is rough on people with diabetes, because it increases carbohydrate cravings and fosters weight gain. But how does lack of sun make us SAD?

Happy New Year’s Resolution!

Updated

January is the busiest month at the YMCA. That’s when the rush of people with New Year’s resolutions come in saying, “This is the year I finally get in shape.” By February, the crowd is thinning, and by March it’s back to normal. Most New Year’s resolutions don’t stick. But sometimes they do!

Finding Joy

Updated

I was going to write about drugs or food or medical care or one of those hot topics. Then I figured, “it’s Christmas. Write about more important things.” So let’s talk about finding the joy in life. That’s pretty important, and sometimes it’s not so easy…

Do Foods Have You in Their Power?

Updated

Most of us try to eat healthfully. Worrying about food is kind of an American craze, but having diabetes can mean taking food obsession even farther. We have to eat the right things, or else! But some foods seem to have other plans for us. Some food is so attractive that many of us can’t resist. Is that true for you?

The Joys of Marketing

Updated

Things have been kind of tough lately. My mobility scooter broke down again, so I’m trapped inside. But that’s not the worst of it. Life is just getting on my nerves. My son told me, “You have a blog. Rant about it.” So here goes. I will even throw in some useful information along the way…

How Fishy Are You?

Updated

I have long heard about the health benefits of fish. I’ve also been aware that not all fish are equally good for you, and that overfishing is harming the oceans. Now, more fish news is on the radar: A new study highlights fish consumption as a way to get protection from diabetes, and another report compiles the fish that are the most healthful and that can be caught with the least effect on the environment…

The Double Whammy

Updated

Did you know that over 52% of people with diabetes also have arthritis? We reported on this finding in June 2008, but it still brings up questions such as: Why should this be? And what does it mean for people with one or both conditions? Does it tell us anything about treatment or self-management? Maybe it does…

Managing Chronic Pain

Managing Chronic Pain

Updated

In surveys, anywhere from 20 percent to over 60 percent of people with diabetes report dealing with chronic pain — much higher than rates in the general population. Why is there so much pain, and what can be done about it?

What About Urine Tests?

Updated

Since I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) over 20 years ago, I’ve been a self-care maniac. I think about it, write about it, and talk about it all the time. So when I started having to urinate every 90 minutes or so, I decided to investigate for myself…

Thin Type 2s?

Updated

We’ve all read about people with Type 1 climbing mountains, dancing ballet, or playing professional football. But all people with Type 2 are thought by many to be overweight and sedentary. Last week I learned different. It’s an interesting story…

Where Does Type 2 Come From?

Updated

Last Friday, I went to a seminar on a new kind of surgery for weight loss. The talk was held at the Center for Obesity Assessment, Study, and Treatment (COAST) at the University of California, San Francisco. At the end of the seminar, Robert Lustig, MD, said, “This surgery [vagotomy, or cutting the vagus nerve] won’t work for the kind of overweight that contributes to Type 2 diabetes. This is for the other kind of obesity.”

Vegetables Rock!

Updated

More good news for vegetable fans! (Count me in.) Researchers at the Imperial College of London have found that a chemical called sulforaphane protects arteries against plaque buildup. Sulforaphane is available in vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage…

Where Do You Find Hope?

Updated

I think we can all agree — times are tough all over. And when you add living with a chronic progressive condition to the mix, things may start to seem hopeless…

Health and Happiness

Updated

Last week we had a game party at our apartment. My son the park ranger was in town. He likes poker, so we had friends over and played cards and Taboo until 11:30. As a writer and a disabled person, I spend a lot of time alone, so it was great to have people over and to have fun…

Illness and Fear

Updated

The emotions that come with chronic conditions can be as bad as or worse than the physical symptoms. Right now, I need some help dealing with fear…

Are People with Diabetes Sweeter?

Updated

Have you ever thought that people with diabetes are often gentler, more giving, maybe more passive — in a word, “sweeter” — than average? I haven’t found any scientific evidence for this idea, but in my personal experience with hundreds of people with diabetes, it sometimes seems true…

Changing Killer Thoughts

Updated

Two weeks ago, I went to a social event with people I hardly knew. For personal and business reasons, I wanted to make a good impression. But near the end of the evening, I tripped and fell. With my multiple sclerosis (MS), this happens fairly often, but I “knew,” “Everyone will think I’m a loser because I fell. I’ve blown the whole evening…”

Bariatric Surgery News

Updated

The weight-loss (bariatric) surgeons are on the prowl, looking for new candidates for surgery. Now it seems they have some more evidence to back them up. New studies report that “mildly obese” people (BMI 30–34.9) gain as much benefit from surgery — in terms of weight, blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol control — as heavier people do…

Is Weight Good for You?

Updated

For those interested in weight issues, new Canadian research shows, again, that being “overweight” — having a body mass index (BMI) of 25–29.9 — is associated with a longer lifespan than that of “normal” weight people (BMI 18.5–24.9). According to the study, people who are mildly “obese,” (obesity class I, BMI 30–34.9) have the same risk of death as normal weight people. Not until weight reaches obesity class II (BMI 35–39.9) does heaviness seem to increase mortality…

News Roundup

Updated

I’ve been dealing with a bad cold of late, but I’m still keeping an eye on the latest diabetes news. Here are some headlines that have caught my attention recently…

Make it the “Feel Good” Diet

Updated

Two weeks ago, I discussed the “Tastes Good” diet. My entry proposed that eating for pleasure, taking your time, and enjoying your food could lead to better health. But now I want to amend the diet — the “Tastes Good” diet is good, but the “Feel Good” diet is even better…

Does Your Body Know (What to Eat)?

Updated

I’ve been reading The Diet Survivor’s Handbook, by Judith Matz, LCSW, and Ellen Frankel, LCSW. They tell heavy people not to diet, but to learn to trust their bodies to pick the right foods. “Eat when you’re hungry; eat what your body wants; stop when you’re full” is the mantra. But would this work for you? Should people with diabetes trust their bodies? Let’s think about this…

Try the “Tastes Good” Diet

Updated

This is kind of amazing. Did you know that how your body uses food depends partly on how much you like the food? Eating food that tastes good and that has a pleasing appearance can help your body react to the food in healthier ways. So cooking and eating attractive, tasty food will reward you with both pleasure and health.

Eat Like a Caveman?

Updated

I consulted a holistic nutritionist the other day. She was an advocate of the "Paleo diet." When she found out I wrote for Diabetes Self-Management, she said, "You have to tell them about this way of eating." So I’ll tell you what I learned and what I think about it. You can make up your own mind and hopefully share it with the rest of us.

Proud of Yourself?

Updated

Hard times can lead to hard feelings. An article on the financial news site Bloomberg.com says, "A tidal wave of anxiety is washing over America, from Wall Street’s concrete canyons to the lettuce fields of California, propelled by the mortgage industry collapse, costly gasoline, tight credit and rising unemployment."

Where Do You Find Support?

Updated

I hate to admit it, but I need some help. Actually, everyone needs support, and having a chronic condition doubles the need. But where do you go for help?

Living with Fear

Updated

You know how doctors always try to motivate you with fear? They tell you all the terrible things that will happen to you if you don’t take their medicines and follow their diets. You’ll lose your kidneys, your eyes, your legs, maybe your life. So shut up and do what we tell you!

Coping with Frustration

Updated

I’m trying to stay positive about this. Do you, like me, work as hard as you can to take care of yourself? You try to get the best information and act on it. Try to exercise; eat right. Relax, stretch, think positive thoughts. Get help from professionals and other people, learn to communicate better with friends and family. Etc.

Discrimination and Diabetes

Updated

The prevalence of diabetes is at least twice as high in some ethnic groups as it is in whites. This is true even among people with similar body mass index (BMI) numbers, a large new study finds. According to a press release about the study (which was published in the journal Ethnicity and Disease), Gertraud Maskarinec, MD, PhD, and associates report that, “the effects of body weight and diet appear to differ depending on an individual’s ethnic background. Moreover, differences in prevalence among different ethnic groups persisted in normal-weight and underweight participants" [emphasis mine]. In other words, there’s a lot more to Type 2 diabetes than weight.

Emotions and Bad Habits

Updated

For research on my new book, I got a book called The Pathway by Laurel Mellin, MA, RD. She is a dietitian and professor at the University of California San Francisco. Her first book, called The Solution, came out in 1998 and focused on weight control. Both books show how emotions drive unhealthy practices, and how you can self-heal those feelings and behaviors.

Ideas in Weight Control

Updated

Since we’ve been talking a lot about weight on The DSM Blog lately, I will highlight a few recent ideas about weight. You probably know most of them, but hopefully at least one will be helpful. This week is mostly about causes. Next week we’ll start on management. I would really like to get your feedback on these ideas.

Do Emotions Help or Hurt You?

Updated

On Friday, I had lunch with Mark, an old friend who has AIDS. In the 1990’s, for nearly a year, he lived face-to-face with death. His white blood cell (T4) count was near zero. He couldn’t get out of bed for days at a time.

Is Weight Worth Another Book?

Updated

I’m thinking about writing another book. It would be called something like From Weight to Wellness. The main idea is that numbers on a scale don’t mean all that much. People would do better to focus on living their healthiest possible life and stop worrying so much about weight.

New Study, Same Problems

Updated

I apologize in advance. I don’t want to keep writing about American medicine’s obsession with drugs. I’m tired of reporting on how the system’s drug addiction hurts people with chronic conditions. You might be tired of reading about it, too.

Diets Don’t Work?

Updated

See, I told you I was right! Exercise is important! A WebMD article by Carolyn Wilbert recently reported on a Danish study of 154 overweight people. First, they lost weight on a strictly controlled diet. Then they were followed for six months on diets containing varying amounts and types of fat and carbs.

Families and Self-Care

Updated

Lately I’ve been noticing what a difference my family can make in how I feel and how well I take care of myself. They can really help, or they can interfere. Have you noticed anything like that?

What’s for Breakfast?

Updated

When I give classes in the community on preventing diabetes and its complications, people always want to know about food. They tend to ask “What should I eat?” about three times as often as all other questions combined. Since they know very little, and I’m not a dietitian, I have to keep it simple. I boil it down to two rules, and the first one is Eat Breakfast!

A Good Cry?

Updated

I find that crying is wonderful medicine, as good as laughing, which is a pretty high standard. I notice that if a week or two goes by without any crying, I start to feel more down, withdrawn, depressed. Crying lightens the weight around my shoulders and my heart. Do you feel that way too?

Furry Medicine

Updated

Say you were a doctor and you could only prescribe one thing, the same thing, for all your patients. What would be the most effective thing you could do for people to protect their hearts, blood vessels, and brains? Statin drugs? Nope. An exercise program? Well, that would help. But studies show that the best medicine for health is often a dog or cat.

Preparing for Hard Times

Updated

I’m proud of my 31-year old son. He’s kept in touch with his high school friends. For the last two weeks, he’s been inviting them to a meeting to prepare for what the economic and social future holds. A whole bunch of them came to talk about sharing resources—who owns land, who has money, who has skills, who has knowledge that could help in a depression or a breakdown of social order.

Might As Well Vote

Updated

Everybody’s talking about the election. I don’t have much confidence in Obama and none at all in McCain, but I have looked into their positions on health issues. Here’s my scorecard.

Does Health Affect Your Relationships?

Updated

I guess that when you’ve been married for 33 years, you have to expect some ups and downs. For me and my partner Aisha, it was mostly up for the first 28 years or so. Now it seems like there’s a lot of down time, and I think that my health has a lot to do with it.

Speaking Up for Myself

Updated

Did you ever notice how a lot of people teach the things they aren’t good at? Like ex-drug addicts who go around warning kids about the dangers of drugs. That’s why, for example, a lot of preachers tend to be among the worst sinners.

Well, I’m the same way.

Self-Managing Chronic Pain (Part 3): Medications and Groups

Updated

I’m almost done with chronic pain, but I thought I should ask a real expert some questions. I found Dr. Karen Burt-Amira, director of the highly successful Pain and Wellness Clinics at the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center in California. I asked her about drugs and herbal approaches. 

Mind Over Pain?

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Last week, we reported on ways to help or relieve chronic pain by treating the part of the body that hurts. This week, we’ll discuss some effective things you can do to treat pain with your mind.

Self-Managing Chronic Pain (Part 1)

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There’s no cure for chronic pain—that’s what makes it chronic. But there are dozens of things we can do to make it better, and lots of places to get help. That’s what I’ll be writing about for the next few weeks.

An Epidemic of Pain

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According to a Veterans Affairs study, up to 60% of people with Type 2 diabetes report having chronic pain. This can be compared to rates of about 20% that have been found in the general population. This is an astonishing difference. Is diabetes really that painful? Or is something else going on? What do we know about chronic pain, and how can we reduce its crippling effects?

Does Your Educator Have a Clue?

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I spent so much time watching the Olympics, I almost didn’t get my blog entry done this week. Fortunately, on Monday morning FedEx delivered a new book to my door, and I felt I had to share it with you. I didn’t write this one—well, I did write page 44—but it’s still a really good book.

Fighting for Food

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It’s hard enough taking care of ourselves and our families when things are going well. What do you do when the price of food and everything else is rising fast? Our dietitian Amy Campbell recently wrote about affording healthy food (see "Nutrition On A Shoestring [Part 1]" and "Part 2"). But this economic crunch is going to last a long time, so we may want to give it even more serious thought.

Different Foods for Different Folks

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Almost all generic nutrition advice is wrong. Why? Because different people are genetically prepared to eat different foods. At least, that’s what increasing numbers of scientists are saying, that before you can really know what’s best for you to eat, you need to know what your ancestors ate.

Are Your Meds Making You Fat?

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One of the frustrations of diabetes is the way everyone tells you to lose weight. Then they give you medicine that makes you gain weight. Some of the worst offenders are insulin and the thiazolidinedione drugs, pioglitazone (brand name Actos) and rosiglitazone (Avandia). Why do these drugs cause weight gain, and what can you do about it?

ADA Advice on Sex

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As my article “When Diabetes Affects Your Sex Life” in the May/June 2008 issue of Diabetes Self-Management would suggest, sex and intimacy are two of my favorite topics, so I made sure to attend the panel on sexuality at June’s ADA Scientific sessions. It wasn’t great, but I learned some things.

New Answers on Exercise

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The first session I attended at last month’s ADA Scientific Sessions featured three experts on the effects of exercise. The room was packed with interested doctors. The moderator assured us that all three researchers were "well-funded," which I guess is high praise in research circles.

What to Eat? ADA Speakers Disagree

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Diabetes-care professionals don’t seem to share their patients’ vigilance about food. Out of about 1,000 presentations at the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Scientific Sessions in San Francisco, only 20 or so concerned diet. And those presenters mostly disagreed with each other.

How Much (Monitoring) is Too Much? (Part 2)

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Hey guys,

I went to the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Scientific Sessions in San Francisco this past weekend, courtesy of a Diabetes Self-Management press credential. It was fascinating. I’ll be writing about it for the next five weeks, but first to report the ADA’s view on blood glucose self-monitoring.

How Much (Monitoring) is Too Much?

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Two just-published studies in BMJ, the British Medical Journal, suggest that people with Type 2 diabetes don’t need to monitor their blood glucose much, unless they’re on insulin. You heard it here first.

This is an old debate. I’m going to tell you what I think, but I’d really like to hear your experiences and opinions.

Power Naps, Health Naps

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People think self-management means giving up things you like. That is so wrong. Self-management really means doing things that you like, but that society doesn’t want you to do. A self-managed life should be more fun and feel better than an unhealthy life (although it can involve more pin pricks and needle sticks).

Stay Out of the Swamp

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Supermarkets are wonderful places. You can buy all different kinds of food, including some imported flavors and products you would never see otherwise.

Supermarkets are also food swamps, filled with unhealthy products and additives that can raise your blood sugar and poison you in a dozen subtle ways. How do you get the benefits of the modern food industry and avoid the dangers?

Getting Health Insurance

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This blog entry warns you about one of the biggest threats to health in America. It’s not a chemical or a lifestyle. It’s our own health insurance system. I know some readers won’t like this, so I’m telling you my opinion right at the top.

Diabetes and the Brain

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It’s hard enough managing diabetes when you have all your mental faculties, right? Well, for a lot of people, it’s worse. They have diabetes and mental illness, too.

Web editor Tara Dairman put me on to this story after a reader asked about it, and it turned out to be interesting enough to share.

Love Your Feet

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As a Diabetes Self-Management reader, you are probably already expert on foot care. But a short reminder course can’t hurt. Foot pain is one of the most common symptoms of diabetes. It can be a warning sign of serious circulation or nerve problems that, if ignored, could lead to loss of use of the foot. Fortunately, foot pain can almost always be prevented, improved, and usually eliminated completely. So it’s worth reviewing.

The Misuse of Science

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The recent ACCORD fiasco gave a good example of how science can be used to twist people’s thinking and public policy. If we want to make good decisions in a world full of people trying to deceive us, we can benefit from learning how science is supposed to work. That way, we can recognize when it is being misused.

Weight, Prejudice, and Type 2 Diabetes

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Do you think overweight people bring Type 2 diabetes on themselves? It would be natural to think that, because doctors and other authorities have been blaming weight for years. Health "experts” call Type 2 a "lifestyle disease," implying that people choose it. Heavy people are called "obese," which comes from the Latin for "over/eating," as if that were the whole cause of overweight.

Write It Down

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You can’t be controversial every week. Here’s something we may all agree on. But if you don’t, please let us know.

There’s a basic self-management skill that rarely gets taught. That’s the important art of writing things down. By keeping records of what happens to you, what you do, and how you feel, you can learn a lot about your health. You may also gain some insights into your life.

Some Things Are Worse Than Sugar

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Can you believe that a single food additive was responsible for 75% of all reports of adverse reactions to substances in the food supply from 1981 to 1995? Can you guess which food it was? Hint: It’s something that people with diabetes are often encouraged to consume.

Out of Shape in Two Months

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Isn’t it embarrassing when you’ve been teaching other people how to do something for years and then you screw it up yourself? That’s what’s happening to me, and I hope I can turn it around.

The Green Triangle

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Last week I went to a conference on climate change, a.k.a. global warming, at San Francisco State, my local university. About 1,000 students, teachers, and community members were there. I now understand that we face a terrible threat from the greenhouse effect created by burning oil, coal, and forests and by raising huge numbers of cattle and pigs.

Have You Tried Group Medicine?

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How do you like your medical appointments? If you’re like many of us, you find that doctors are rushed and focused mostly on clinical goals. It’s all about the numbers and the drugs. They’re in charge, and our job is mostly to listen.

Stop Waking Up!

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Bill is a 60-year-old friend with prediabetes. For three years, he has been trying to control his blood pressure and lower his weight. He exercises, he eats a healthy diet. He even stopped drinking, but his weight, blood pressure, and morning blood glucose levels have stayed up.

Do You CAM?

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Western medicine is powerful, but it’s not perfect. And it’s not the only medicine. Many people, including thousands of people with diabetes, have turned to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

New Year’s Resolutions

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I used to think that New Year’s resolutions were silly, and sometimes I still think that. A lot of them are so vague ("I will be nicer to people") or so big ("I will lose 40 pounds by March 15") that they could never work.

Going Home for the Holidays

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Having family come home for the holidays is one set of challenges. But to me, traveling to them seems like even more of a quest. I’m going to put a few questions out there, and hopefully you can give us the benefit of your experience and wisdoms about traveling with diabetes in the holiday season.

Coping With Stress Through Relaxation

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I hope that the holidays aren’t stressing you out. Whether they are or not, here’s something that can help.

In my blog entry last week ("Reducing Stress"), I wrote about reducing and avoiding sources of stress. That’s the best way to deal with stress—but sometimes you can’t eliminate the sources of stress from your life. So what can you do then? Here are some ideas:

Reducing Stress

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Stress is a major contributor to diabetes, as I’ve written about in both of my books. But recently, I’ve been thinking more about what to do about stress. How can we reduce it, and how can we cope with it?

Accepting

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This has been a tough two weeks for me. First, I got a nasty infection in my left knee, which turned out to be cellulitis. I was on bed rest for five days. Not strictly—I could transfer to my scooter and sit up for a while—but about 22 hours a day.

Native Americans, Love, and Diabetes

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Hope you have or had a good Thanksgiving. I thought this would be a good time to remember the people on the other side of Thanksgiving. But this blog entry isn’t an angry listing of the wrongs and abuses Native Americans have suffered (though you can read some examples here). It’s about self-esteem, self-love, and diabetes.

Grab Some Zzzs

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Do you have trouble sleeping? I do sometimes. Sometimes it’s hard to get to sleep because I’m too wound up. Other times, I drop right off, but wake up several times a night to pee, and then have trouble getting back to sleep.

Self-Managing Depression

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For the last two weeks, we’ve been talking about causes of depression. Now let’s see what we can do about it.

In my view, depression is a symptom of powerlessness. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. You can manage and overcome depression, just like you can with physical symptoms. In this blog entry, I’ll give some ideas about managing and treating the symptoms of depression. Next week, we’ll deal with treating the causes.

Changing a Bad Habit

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Well, friends, I need your help. I’ve got two bad habits I really need to change.

Ironic, isn’t it? I’ve been making a living for years helping people change their habits. I probably know more than almost anyone about what helps people change and what stops them. But right now, I’m stuck.

Say the Magic Word

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Last week, I wrote about rest and asked readers, “How do you rest when there are so many things you have to or want to do?” I didn’t get any replies. Either you’re not interested, or you haven’t had any ideas that worked. Just in case, here are some strategies that might.

I Need Some Rest

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Sometimes I follow my own advice and sometimes I don’t. When I don’t, I’m usually sorry about it. Saturday night I was very sorry. I fell and injured my right hip. Why? Because I tried to do too much. I didn’t slow down. I didn’t rest.

Sicker Than Sicko

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I’ve never liked Michael Moore’s movies much, but Sicko is way better than anything he’s done before. He really exposes the madness of our medical system. He does this partly with some horror stories about people who couldn’t get help. But, more importantly, he shows how they do it better in England, Canada, and France.

Laugh With Me

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I really need to laugh more. I just wrote an article on the healing power of laughter for Arthritis Self-Management, Diabetes Self-Management’s sister publication, and wow! I knew laughter was good for you, but I had no idea how good. It’s a wonder drug. I know I was saying the same thing about exercise a few weeks ago (“Let’s Get Moving”) but laughter is just as good.

In The Mood

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Last week’s blog entry on sex and intimacy got some interesting replies. Today, I’ll talk about getting in the mood. Beth and Ms. Mel both described near-total loss of desire. Diabetes may not be the main cause of this.

Sex, Intimacy, and Diabetes

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I’ve got a whole new career! What a surprise! I never expected to be a sex educator. My partner and I are giving workshops on Sex and Intimacy in Chronic Illness and Disability. We’ve given some for the Multiple Sclerosis Society and some in the community for people with illness, psychotherapists, ministers, and sex educators.

How did this happen? I was a health educator, nurse, and author writing about self-care and the social causes of illness. I really didn’t think much about sex, except as it related to health.

Is it Type 2 or is it LADA?

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At the end of my blog post a couple of weeks ago ("Type 2 Diabetes—An Environmental Illness), Mary A wrote: “I am female, white, 47 years old, 5’9", 142 pounds, a runner, and in January 2007, I was diagnosed with Type 2. No one else in my family has diabetes. I have always been active. I have never been obese. Go figure.”

Here’s what I figure, Mary: You may not have Type 2 at all.

Put Your Mask on First

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In reply to my previous blog entry about getting help, Ephrenia wrote: “I’ve been a caregiver for a very long time. My 20-year-old son has bipolar disorder. I became a mental health advocate, very active in several organizations, as well as being a single parent and holding down a job (or two sometimes).

Let’s Get Moving

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What if there was a drug that lowered insulin resistance and blood glucose, reduced pain, made you happier, raised your energy level, helped you sleep, improved bowel function, and promoted weight loss? Would you pay $1000 a month for it?

Wellness is a Team Sport, Part 2: Working With Family

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We all know families can make or break a self-management program. How do you exercise if everyone in your family says, “Aww, stay here and watch ‘King of Queens’ with us”? How do you get Oreos out of the house when family members love them? How do you stay relaxed when everybody in the house is arguing?

Wellness is a Team Sport, Part 1: “I Hate to Ask”

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When I started to become disabled with multiple sclerosis (MS), I rapidly learned that I needed help. If I wanted to go places, do things, earn a living, and enjoy life, other people would have to get involved. Over time, I’ve also needed more support from assistive devices—ankle braces, canes, a mobility scooter. With help, I’m having a great life. Without it, I’d be isolated, poverty-stricken, and miserable.

Getting a Hand From Social Agencies

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Coping with painful neuropathy and caring for her aging mother had taken over Julie’s life. She would cook, clean, and provide care until pain and fatigue stopped her. As soon as she felt a little better, she would start in again: shopping, doing…