How to manage diabetes

Glucose meter with test strip, metformin, and lancet machine.
Glucose meter with test strip, metformin, and lancet machine. Photo by Chris Rego

Diabetes is becoming a major threat to Canadians. Canada currently has ten million cases of known diabetes patients and twenty Canadians are newly diagnosed every hour, according to the Canadian Diabetes Association.

Being young is no guarantee that diabetes will not affect students. The only guarantee is that if students maintain an unhealthy lifestyle they may suffer with this disease or one far worse.


The sooner students take an active role in their health the sooner they will see positive changes in their lives.

The main cause for high rates of diabetes is lifestyle, including poor diet and little to no exercise, according to experts in the field.

One out of every 400 children within Durham region will develop Type 1 diabetes before the age of 18. But Type 2 diabetes is also becoming increasingly common and has risen by 70 per cent over the last 10 years.

The causes for all types of diabetes may vary depending on genetic makeup, family history, ethnicity, health and environmental factors.

Type 1 and Type 2 are similar but there are two key differences. Type 1 is most common in those 18 and under while Type 2 is more often found in people 18 and older. Type 2 patients may also require insulin shots on a regular basis.


Diet and exercise are fundamental to improving a diabetic’s lifestyle. Students should be aware of the foods they eat and what ingredients are in them. Fresher foods have ‘healthier’ sugars so, for example, it is better to eat an apple instead of drinking apple juice.

For those who are diabetic, it is important to stick with natural options.

“A low sugar diet, watching out for added sugars as well as proper components of meals can help manage Type 2,” says Durham College nutritionist Sylvia Emmorey.


Diabetics must get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise and must to build a good sweat when they work out. Health Canada recommends people get one hour of exercise on a daily basis.

That is not being achieved, in part due to the distractions of things such as video games, television, and binge watching Netflix.


The potential heath risks are not just diabetes but also heart attack, stroke, obesity, and mental health issues. Diabetics can still live healthy and full lives by making small changes not just to diet and exercise but by also having a positive outlook on life.


Signs and symptoms of diabetes can include unusual thirst, frequent urination, weight change (gain or loss), extreme fatigue or lack of energy, burred vision, frequent or recurring infections, slow healing cuts and bruises, tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, and trouble getting or maintaining an erection.


There are several key elements to managing diabetes. They must be maintained to ensure good health.

Education: Diabetes education is an important first step. All people with diabetes need to be informed about their condition and should stay informed.

Physical activity: Regular physical activity helps your body lower blood glucose levels, promotes weight loss, reduces stress and enhances overall fitness.

Nutrition: What, when and how much you eat all play an important role in regulating blood glucose levels. Weight management: Maintaining a healthy weight is especially important in the management of Type 2 diabetes.

Medication: Type 1 diabetes is always treated with insulin. Type 2 diabetes is managed through physical activity and meal planning and may require medications and/or insulin to assist your body in controlling blood glucose more effectively.

Lifestyle management: Learning to reduce stress levels in day-to-day life can help people with diabetes better manage their disease.

Blood pressure: High blood pressure can lead to eye disease, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease, so people with diabetes should try to maintain a blood pressure level at or below 130/80. “Diabetes has become more prevalent within the media and is, unfortunatel,y more often than not just a small blurb and that is not enough information to be keep the public informed,” said Sylvia Emmorey



I have never given much thought to how I eat or treat my body.

I have had to think about my health lately because I was recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

I knew the risks of treating my body like it was a circus and not a temple.

Now I am paying for all that sugar and fast food. My life has taken a 180 degree turn because I would get sick if I ate like I used to.

I can fully admit that I knew little about what diabetes really was and how it would affect my life.

It is scary that diabetes affects all aspects of life from breakfast to going out to friends. For example, most alcoholic drinks are completely out of the question because they use yeasts, sugar, and/or starches in the filtering process. Many changes are needed in my case but I think now that having diabetes can be positive in my life.

It all depends on how the individual looks at it. In my case, I am actually happy because it forced me to get motivated about staying healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.