According to the CDC, over 100 million American adults are currently living with diabetes or prediabetes. Diabetes can cause symptoms like weight loss, extreme fatigue, blurry vision, numbness, and pain. If it isn’t properly treated, it can lead to extreme sickness. In fact, diabetes is a huge cause of kidney failure and heart attacks. In 2016 alone, 1.6 million people died due to the disease.
The more serious symptoms and risk of death increase when people with diabetes go undiagnosed. Not treating your diabetes correctly can lead to a variety of problems. If you’ve got diabetes and you work, it can even impact your career.
If you do have diabetes, it’s imperative to take care of yourself while at work. This will ensure more employment stability and allow you to do your job well. So, what can you do to manage your diabetes when you’re on the clock?
Talk to Your Boss
When you have diabetes, it’s nothing to be ashamed about. Taking care of yourself inside and out is one of the best things you can do. In fact, doing regular health checks on yourself can help you to have a better idea of how your symptoms are affecting you and what you need to do to keep them at bay.
One aspect of taking care of yourself, especially at work, is being upfront about your illness. Trying to keep it hidden may make you more likely to avoid taking care of yourself the way you need to (eating healthy snacks every few hours, exercising, etc.) because you’re worried about what people might think.
Diabetes may also require you to need additional accommodations at work. You might need extra breaks to check your blood sugar, or even to take insulin as needed. Did you know that more than 50% of workers don’t leave the office during their lunch break? If you don’t get up and get moving, don’t take breaks, and don’t take advantage of a healthy lunch, you’re putting yourself at a higher risk.
So, talk to your boss and manager(s) about what you need to do your job successfully. The more open you are about your illness, the more likely it is for people at work to accommodate you.
It’s not always easy to manage your diabetes on your own. First, you have to rely on your body to tell you what’s going on. You have to be in tune with your own symptoms. Next, you have to regularly check and monitor your blood sugar. But, again, you’re either only doing this at specific times or when you’re experiencing certain symptoms.
It’s also easy to forget to take care of yourself. You might miss a meal, which can cause a drop in your blood sugar.
So, when you’re busy and distracted at work, take advantage of technology to help you with your diabetes.
There are apps and other tech specifically designed to help people with diabetes. For instance, the app Glucose Buddy monitors your glucose levels throughout the day. It also tracks your exercise and how many carbohydrates you take in each day, which can help to keep your blood sugar levels in a normal range.
Other apps like My Fitness Pal can help you to monitor your diet and exercise, so you can be sure you’re eating right and moving the way you should each day. Other apps can do everything from reminding you of upcoming medical visits to managing your medications. Work can be overwhelming and can take your thoughts away from your own health. If you need a little help to remind you to take care of yourself, it’s okay to use technology to do it.
Eat Right and Exercise
Speaking of remembering to eat right and get moving, there may be nothing more important than managing your diet and getting enough exercise when you have diabetes. Eating healthy and working out probably aren’t the first two things that come to mind when you’re at work, but you should absolutely make them a priority.
Eating well and eating every few hours are key components of keeping diabetes symptoms under control. Even if on a strict budget, people diagnosed with diabetes can eat a healthy diet. Diabetics should choose foods that are high in fiber and low in sugar, like oatmeal, low-sugar cereals, string cheese, cottage cheese, boiled eggs, or even popcorn. Packing healthy lunches for yourself each day that include a lot of vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats, as well as being prepared with snacks you can munch on throughout the day will help to keep your blood sugar from dropping or spiking.
Exercise is also important – even at work! Exercise has many benefits and can help you to feel more energized and more productive throughout the day. When it comes to exercise and diabetes, the benefits are even greater.
Physical activity can help to improve your blood glucose levels, preventing sudden drops or spikes. It can also help with weight loss, which is sometimes something people with diabetes struggle with. Of course, it’s important to exercise the safe way when you have diabetes. Light aerobic exercise (walking, biking, jogging), resistance training, and flexibility exercises are often the best for diabetics. You can do just about any of these on your lunch break, or even on a quick 15-minute break in the morning or afternoon.
Things like yoga can also help with neuropathy — something many diabetics deal with. This can even be done in your own office if you have a few extra minutes. Don’t let the excuse of being behind a desk all day keep you from physical activity.
Managing your diabetes at work doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming, and it certainly doesn’t have to be embarrassing. With a little planning ahead, you can make healthy choices each day at work and keep your diabetes under control while having a successful career.