For most young adults, moving away to college means being on your own for the first time. This new-found freedom and chance to make your own choices is exciting. But it can also bring about sometimes rude awakenings to what life is really like.
This is especially true for young adults living with diabetes.
For the first time, you will be fully responsible for managing your diabetes. You'll have to make sure you have all of the diabetes supplies you need, instead of your parents just ordering them and making them available to you. You may have to talk with the insurance company, doctor's office and pharmacy for the first time to order new supplies or schedule doctor’s appointments. For many young adults with diabetes, moving into adulthood can be a pretty drastic learning experience.
Aside from the logistics of diabetes care and extra responsibility you may be taking on, there are many other lifestyle changes that can put a wrench in your daily diabetes care and routine.
Now that you are out on your own, you may find it difficult to get in three nutritious meals every day. Cooking for just one can be a pain, so you may find yourself eating out a lot more, especially fast food that you can eat cheaply and on the way to your next class.
To keep from getting stuck in the fast food habit make one or two larger meals packed with nutrients on the weekend, or whenever you find you have some extra time, and eat leftovers throughout the week. Another tip that can help you keep a relatively healthy diet is to buy a bunch of healthier lunch items that are easy to throw in your bag on the way to class or to eat in between classes.
In college, you will hardly ever have a regular schedule that you can easily incorporate your diabetes management plan into. Classes are often at odd times throughout the day, making it hard to plan regular meals around. If you are also working either a full-time or part-time job you will find your spare time becomes almost nonexistent when you add in studying. And let’s face it, when you do have some extra time, you are going to want to go out and spend time with friends.
All you can do is try to keep up when it comes to diabetes management. Make sure you are checking your blood sugar often just so you know where you are at and what to expect during your daily activities. If you do have a busy schedule and hardly have a minute to rest during the day just make sure you are prepared. Take snacks with you to class and to work. Even though you may have a crazy schedule, make sure that you take your medication/ insulin regularly and consistently to prevent highs and lows as much as possible.
One last warning: One of the hardest things for young adults to handle when it comes to college is the stress of balancing classes, work and a social life. Throw diabetes in the mix and you have a dangerous balancing act that can shoot stress levels through the roof.
Stress does affect your diabetes. Whether it be a big test, or a hot date that has your stress levels running high, make sure you take some time to relax and focus on your diabetes.
Your college years can be the best years of your life, so don’t waste them being sick from poor diabetes management. It will be rough, and some days will be much harder than others. But remember that diabetes doesn’t have to control you; you can balance everything you want to do and have good diabetes control — as long as you pay attention to your body and are proactive in your diabetes care.