November 14, 2015 is World Diabetes Day. Worldwide, an estimated 600 million people may be living with diabetes by 2035. As of 2014, diabetes affected just over 29 million people in the U.S., but by 2035 an estimated 59 million people will be born with Type 1 or have developed Type 2 diabetes. This does not include the number of people who are pre-diabetic, a figure that is rising with each passing decade. Even if diabetes does not affect you today, chances are good that it may affect you in the future. Here’s how to get involved now.
1. Get involved online
The world revolves around the internet, and on World Diabetes Day, help build awareness and show support by reaching out and engaging all of your social networks with messages of support and education.
Twitter: Use the hashtag #WDD to tweet about World Diabetes Day, or use the following hashtags for different topics:
You can also follow World Diabetes Day on their official Twitter page for updates and information to re-tweet.
Tweet directly to elected officials and policymakers to raise awareness of the prevalence of diabetes and urge action on things like healthy food in schools and product or ad placement in low socioeconomic neighborhoods. The World Diabetes Day social media page has lots of suggestions that are ready to customize and tweet!
YouTube: Follow the World Diabetes Day YouTube channel and post your own videos that share events you are organizing or participating in.
Pinterest: Pinterest is a great way for newly-diagnosed diabetic patients to gather a wealth of information and organize it into easy-to-find boards. Pinterest is like an online bulletin board with recipes, suggestions for complementary therapies, and exercise tips for diabetes (and everything else under the sun!). Take some time to search existing pins specifically geared towards diabetes, then sign up and make your own Pinterest boards for future reference. These can also be shared.
2. Get involved in the kitchen
Know someone with diabetes? Help mark World Diabetes Day by cooking them a diabetes-friendly meal, especially if they don’t love cooking. Go even farther than that by helping them to build an easy, diabetes-friendly meal-planning tool that includes days of the week, categories of food, and serving sizes. Include snacks and fresh, easy-to-make ideas for breakfasts and lunches on the go.
Diabetes-friendly meals focus on fresh vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Sometimes the hardest part about eating well for diabetes is finding satisfying swaps for the foods you love. Look for healthy and delicious substitutes for your favorite foods. New research on managing diabetes with food may have some surprising recommendations.
Spend part of the day in the kitchen then share the meal you have prepared. Don’t forget to post it on Twitter!
3. Go on a walkabout
You don’t need to move to the land down under to go on a walkabout. Step away from the car and go explore your town or city. Walking is easy and free exercise that is available to everyone, regardless of fitness level. If you have a family member or a loved one who is struggling to incorporate exercise into their daily routine, take World Diabetes Day to go for a walk and build an exercise plan. It can be as simple as setting a weekly walking date.
4. Plan your own event
Events are planned across the globe to raise awareness (and sometimes money) on World Diabetes Day, but if there is nothing planned in your community, why not schedule an event yourself? It may be too late this year, but next November 14th is as good a time as any to raise money for research, education, or maybe a local family or two that is struggling with the medical bills associated with diabetes. A walk or a sponsored fall festival or family carnival can support your community and help in a concrete way to fight the epidemic of diabetes.
5. Educate yourself and others
If you have a friend or family member with diabetes and have no concrete idea of what that means for them, take some time on World Diabetes to educate yourself. There are numerous websites on what diabetes actually is: its causes, symptoms, and complications. Even if you do not personally know someone with diabetes today, chances are good that you will in the future. Even a little bit of education can help you understand the disease and maybe make some positive changes in your own life so you don’t become a statistic.
6. Check in with the International Diabetes Federation
The International Diabetes Federation is a non-profit organization consisting of 230 national diabetes associations in 170 countries and territories. Their mission is to raise awareness and promote policy change with the goal of eradicating diabetes. Visit their site to see how you can join in that fight.
This World Diabetes Day, take some time to educate yourself, build awareness in your community, help a friend or loved one manage their diabetes, and take action towards eliminating diabetes in the world. Together we can make a difference!