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Living with diabetes is hard. Every day can bring different challenges. Health, fitness and nutrition information contradicts itself all the time making it difficult to know if we are making the right choices for optimal wellness. Many people living with diabetes are too tired or too frustrated to believe there will ever be a cure. Most people who do not have diabetes pay too little attention to the disease and some actually think there is already a cure. I personally battle every day between hope and fear. I want to feel good for once, and I am sick of living by a number. Every decision I make revolves around what my monitor tells me. A cure would be great, but we are far from close. What are some things diabetics and non-diabetics can do get closer to a cure? Here are 3 steps we can do now that will get us closer.
Vote and Change Laws
Do you vote? If so, how much research do you do before voting? I ask because who you choose to lead this country will have a direct effect on public health. Local and state elections are just as important as presidential ones. Know who is on the ballot and ask them questions. Most candidates have Facebook and Twitter accounts. They all have websites and phone numbers. They are supposed to be available to their constituents at meetings or by appointment. So find them and ask important questions like, “What would you do to change the school lunch programs?” or “How will you ensure all diabetics can afford their insulin every month?”. Politicians work for us! If someone is on the ballet and wants your vote, they are essentially interviewing for a job. You are the boss. Take control and ask them the questions that are important to you. No one in the government deserves a free ride. We are a sick nation, and we are getting worse. We are currently facing several health epidemics all of which can trace back to government policy in some way.
Groceries You Buy
For far too long now we have been spending our money on products that make us sick. The government supports and subsidizes food industries that do not have our best interest in mind. They only want to make a buck, and they don’t care how they do it. Big food companies use the same tactics that the tobacco the industry use to get their consumers hooked. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be addicted to food. I want to eat when I need to fuel my body.
Cravings are supposed to be the way our bodies tell us we need something. A craving for chocolate might indicate a need for more magnesium. Many cravings occur when a person is dehydrated. Unfortunately, we have lost our abilities to determine if a craving has anything to do with a deficiency because of the additives used in making processed foods. BHA & BHT, FD&C artificial colors, and potassium bromate are known carcinogens, and if you look on your packaged food labels, you will probably see some of these ingredients.
These products also contain processed sugar that our liver has a hard time breaking down. This causes those sugars to convert to fat and results in fatty livers and insulin sensitivity problems. The good news is that no one is forcing you to buy these “foods.” You can shop the perimeter of the store and only buy whole, unprocessed meats, fruits, and vegetables. It will only take a few weeks before you notice a difference and it only takes about 30 days to make or break and habit.
Educate Our Future
Many kids today don’t know where French fries come from or how they're made. If you show a classroom full of children a tomato how many of them will know what it is? Don’t listen to the USDA when they say that French fries and ketchup is equal to two servings of vegetables. It’s a lie. Peas and broccoli are vegetables. Potatoes do have some nutritional value, but it’s all lost once processed and turned into fries. Don’t get me started on all the reasons ketchup is not a vegetable.
The point is that we need to take our kids outside and teach them how to plant vegetables. They need to watch the process of their food growing. They also need to learn recipes and help make dinner. Kids that grow up on fast, convenient foods will rely on these foods when they grow up. That is simply not acceptable. Soup should come from the garden, not a can. We cannot rely on schools to teach our children about real food because they don’t have the budget. Very few schools have community gardens, so we need to start them ourselves. School budgets need to grow and as stated above that is in our control.
I guess what I am trying to say in a nutshell is that diabetes is a problem for every member of society. We all need to step up, acknowledge our part, and work to make it better. A cure is possible only if we work together and decide right now that we want and need a cure.
Treatments can keep us alive, but they don’t help us live if we are still stuck watching our numbers all day. We decide who gets elected and what laws pass. We choose what foods we put in our carts and on our plates. We can choose to put the major food companies out of business if they don’t start thinking about our interests. We can go to PTA meeting and demand salad bars and nutrition classes for K-12 graders. If they refuse, we can put our kids in different schools. We can start neighborhood co-ops and gardens today. Download theNextdoor app on your phone and ask your neighbors if they want to participate. Get involved in the process that cures us. We can start making history now!