Is Your Leg Worth a Candy Bar? An "Unsugar" Coated Look at Diabetes

Posted On Nov 17, 2014 By Erin Kuh, MBA, RD

How Sugar Intake Could Impact Your Long-Term Health

This post isn't about how to manage diabetes. However, it is a cold hard look at what it will mean if you, or someone you care about, gets diabetes or already has it but is not managing it properly. The consequences of out-of-control blood sugar levels aren't pretty — I have seen them first-hand.

Most everyone in the U.S. has someone in their circle — whether it's a family member, friend or co-worker — that has diabetes or "pre-diabetes." Maybe you have it. Think about this for a minute. How many people do you know with diabetes? No one is untouched by this disease.

Because diabetes has become so common, even impacting our youth, the condition isn't always taken as seriously as it should be by those people diagnosed or by those doing the diagnosing.

Let's start with pre-diabetes. This is an inaccurate medical term tossed around when blood sugar ranges are consistently higher than normal. But there is nothing "pre" about it. More accurately, it is "early stage diabetes," meaning if you don't start doing something RIGHT NOW, it is going to progress to full-blown diabetes complete with daily pills, finger pricks and/or shots of insulin.

Go back up and read the title again. Is that _____ (fill in the blank with your favorite junk food) worth your leg or foot? Because over-indulging and a sedentary lifestyle might just get you a handicapped placard because you can end up with amputee status.

If you want to get fitted for an outfit for your kid's wedding or your retirement party and not a prosthetic limb, something needs to change now. Not exactly the life you envisioned, is it?

Close your eyes for a minute. I'm serious — do it! How would life be if you couldn't see? Blindness is one of the most common consequences of unmanaged diabetes. I don't know anyone who wants to be blind. Is that _____ (fill in the blank again) worth the ability to never see your spouse smile or watch another sunset?

Now run your thumb over each of your fingertips. Unless you already have diabetes, this shouldn't be painful. But once you have it, your fingertips might hurt to the touch from pricking them multiple times per day to check blood sugar levels.

Diabetes, just like many diseases, isn't compassionate or forgiving. It doesn't care if you're a good or nice person. You don't have to be extremely overweight or old. It's true you can do everything right and still get the disease or have complications. But for the majority of people, being more active, eating healthier and managing their weight can help prevent complications.

If someone you know is at risk for or has diabetes, please pass this along. Sometimes it takes more than hearing: "You have diabetes. You need to cut out everything white from your diet and start taking these pills three times per day. I'll see you back in six months," to make the impact needed for change to take place.