Eating, minding our ‘inner voices’ and mental health | Columns

I recently saw a patient with a long history of prediabetes and then diabetes. He had high levels of sugar and multiple complications, including nerve damage. After starting a new diabetes treatment a year ago, he improved a lot, but it wasn’t completely targeted. He stated that he had an ulcer on his right toe that required amputation. He then realized that he needed to change his gaze and “stop listening to the voices in his head” that were telling him to eat. He changed his diet, started exercising more, and lost 28 pounds. He was able to stop all but one of the drugs, and his sugar level is now at the target we set.

So, what is diabetes mellitus? There are several different types; This patient suffers from type 2, a disease complicated by obesity, which is also called “diabetes”. It is a condition of metabolic disorder, including high blood sugar levels, resulting in damage to the nerves, eyes, kidneys, brain and heart. Most people with type 2 diabetes have a family history that goes back several generations.

Behavioral changes can overcome the consequences of diabetes

Behavioral and lifestyle changes are the basis of successful treatment for people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Modest changes in diet and increased exercise are twice as effective as the best drugs in preventing the development of diabetes. Effective management of behavior and psychological well-being are critical to achieving treatment goals. They include education and support for diabetes self-management, medical nutrition therapy, routine physical activity, smoking cessation, and psychosocial care.

Taos is fortunate to have a fully accredited Diabetes Management and Nutritional Therapy Service sponsored by Holy Cross Hospital. Their services are covered by Medicare and almost all commercial insurance; Your primary practitioner can make the referral. Diabetes education helps people identify and implement effective self-management strategies for managing diabetes.

Why do so many people insist on harmful behaviors rather than help? Psychological barriers get in the way, as do misconceptions and misinformation regarding nutrition, exercise, and medication. One drawback is describing the person as a “diabetic”. We are all human, and none of us have a disease, accepting that you are a person above illness enables you to form positive thoughts about yourself and implement positive lifestyles.

Back to “Your Inner Voice”

Another major obstacle is our self-confidence and our concept of “self.” Who speaks to you the most: your wife? your partner? your best friend? However, we all talk to ourselves as well; There’s that light voice in your head saying you’re hungry when you’re not, or that you need a second meal when you’re already full, or that you should opt for fried chicken when grilled chicken has fewer calories. Our inner voices reflect our inner selves, in both positive and negative aspects.

The concept of “mindfulness” helps teach us how to work with our inner selves, promoting emotional well-being and self-control, which are very important in self-care. Mindfulness can be defined as the ability to attend in a nonjudgmental manner to an individual’s physical and mental processes during daily tasks. We all have the ability to be more aware of what is happening in the present moment: this includes when, how and how much we eat! Psychologist Jon Kabat-Zinn sums up mindfulness well: “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”

Each of us can be our best assistant

As a doctor, I can offer medications, hormones, and advice to people with diabetes and their families. It is up to each person, with the support of families and friends, to incorporate these tools into their lives and learn to “navigate” changes, overcome internal or external barriers, and live a healthier and happier life.

Dr. Neil Friedman is an endocrinologist with Taos Medical Group and serves as Medical Director of the Diabetes Program at Holy Cross Hospital and Medical Director of Zia ACO.

TBH has the largest licensed and certified behavioral health staff in Northern New Mexico. We can be reached at 105 Bertha in Taos for scheduled appointments, at 575-758-4297 or ta


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