Being a woman who has diabetes can pose a challenge. But, with a little help you can meet the challenge.

Eating and weight

Here is an example. For teens with diabetes, more girls than boys are overweight. There is greater pressure on women to be thin. So, it’s no surprise that more girls than boys try to lose weight in ways that harm blood sugar. One of the scariest ways is to cut way back on insulin doses. This has a name; it is called “insulin purging.” Many of the calories you eat will get urinated away; that is why we call it purging. Women are about ten times more likely than men to do this. Insulin purging does have an effect on your weight. But, it also makes blood sugars stay high. 

What helps (treatment for diabetes during pregnancy)? 

It's really tough to accept this fact; efforts to keep blood sugar close to normal often lead to problems with weight control. Each woman has to decide how she will balance these. It can help to be realistic about how you want your body to look. Few people over the age of 14 look like models, what about the aging movie stars we see? They look fit and glamorous. They spend a lot of time and money to look that way. Looking and feeling good can be a reality for all of us. The key is a healthy, balanced way of life. 

This includes:

• Good eating

• Regular exercise

• Doing things that bring pleasure to your emotions and spirit. If you do these, you may not look like a movie star. But, you will feel like a million. 

Diabetes during pregnancy

Women, go through pregnancy and child birth. And, these are a challenge if you have diabetes. Children are so precious. It’s not a surprise that most women work extra hard during this time. They must keep blood sugar close to normal when they are pregnant.  Most of the problems from diabetes come on rather soon. They happen prior to the 7th week after you have conceived. So, you must take action before you get pregnant. To protect you and your baby, get blood sugars near normal; they should be controlled before you try to get pregnant. Young women are more likely to get pregnant before they have planned it. They may not be able to lower their blood sugars in time to help as much.What helps? If you are childbearing age, take care not to get pregnant if you did not plan it. This is especially true if you are a young woman. You can have a high chance of a smooth pregnancy and a healthy baby. But, you improve your chances only if your blood sugar is close to normal. And, you must keep it close to normal all during your pregnancy. 

Heart disease

We often think of heart disease as less common in women than men. This is true for people who do not have diabetes. But, for people with diabetes this is not so. Here, women and men get heart disease at similar rates. There are many reasons; with diabetes, women seem to lose some of what protects them from heart disease.

What helps? Women who have diabetes can cut their risk of heart disease. Here are some ways:

• Keep blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol near normal

• Eat healthy and exercise to control blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol

• Do not smoke, since it increases risk for heart disease. Emotional issues. Last, but not least, there are key emotional issues. 

Have your family be a part of your diabetes care. This can make a big difference. Their help can be practical (such as cooking a healthy meal). Or, it can be emotional (like praising your hard work at self care). Next, coping well with food and body image is crucial. This is a really tough one. But, some of the suggestions I've made in this and earlier columns may help. And, get help for emotional distress; this can be vital.Life with diabetes can be really hard. This may be even more so for women. If you get down and stay that way for a while, get help. You may need just a few sessions with a counselor. (Try to find one who knows about diabetes.) But you may need longer care. This may be the case if you are depressed or have other serious problems.If you feel distress, you should get care as soon as possible. Here is why getting good care is important.

1. It feels good to feel less hassled and overwhelmed.

2. When you ease your distress, you can feel set to take the best care of your diabetes. That will help you feel better today and in the years to come. Being a woman who has diabetes can pose a challenge. But, with a little help you can meet the challenge.