For millions living with diabetes, managing the condition can feel like a constant balancing act. If you’re struggling to keep your diabetes under control, you’re not alone. With the right knowledge, you can take control of your diabetes and improve your overall health.
1. Understand Your Type of Diabetes and How It Affects Your Body
There are two main types of diabetes: type I and type II.
- Type I diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a form of the disease in which the body produces little to no insulin. People with type I diabetes must take insulin every day.
- Type II diabetes, on the other hand, is a form of the disease in which the body produces insulin but either doesn’t produce enough of it or the cells are resistant to its effects. People with type II diabetes can often manage their condition with lifestyle changes and oral medications, but some may eventually need insulin as well.
No matter what type of diabetes you have, it’s important to understand how diabetes affects your lifestyle and body and what you can do to manage it. Work with your healthcare team to develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.
2. Monitor Your Blood Sugar Levels Regularly
If you have diabetes, your body can’t properly process glucose (sugar) from the food you eat. This can cause your blood sugar levels to rise too high. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage your nerves and blood vessels, leading to complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and blindness.
Check your blood sugar levels as often as your healthcare team tells you to, and be sure to keep track of your results. This will help you identify patterns and make adjustments to your diet, activity level, and medications as needed. To monitor your blog sugar levels, you need the right diabetic supplies. There are two main supplies you need to monitor your blood sugar levels:
- A finger stick test or a home blood sugar test that involves pricking your finger using a small needle, then using a drop of your blood to test blood sugar levels.
- A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) is a small device you wear under your clothes. It measures your blood sugar levels continuously and sends the results to a receiver you carry.
Your healthcare team will help you decide which method is right for you. As you monitor your blood sugar levels, be sure to also watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), such as shakiness, sweating, dizziness, and confusion. If you have any of these symptoms, eat or drink something that will raise your blood sugar levels quickly, such as fruit juice, hard candy, or glucose tablets.
3. Eat a Healthy Diet That Is Low in Sugar
What you eat has a direct effect on your blood sugar levels. That’s why eating a healthy and simplified diet low in sugar and carbohydrates is important. When planning your meals, focus on foods high in fiber and protein and low in carbohydrates. Good choices include lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain breads and cereals.
It’s also important to eat meals and snacks on a regular schedule to help you better control your blood sugar levels. Work with a registered dietitian to develop a meal plan that is right for you. In addition to following a healthy diet, limiting your portion sizes is also important. This can help you control your blood sugar levels and lose weight, if needed.
4. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is another important part of managing diabetes. When you exercise, your muscles use glucose for energy and can help lower your blood sugar levels. Exercise also helps your body use insulin more effectively and can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. For most of the days of the week, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. If you have type II diabetes, losing weight can also help improve your blood sugar control.
Even a small weight loss (just seven percent of your body weight) can make a difference. Talk to your healthcare team about how to safely lose weight if you need to. When starting an exercise program, it’s important to take it slow at first. If you have any medical conditions, such as heart disease or nerve damage, be sure to talk to your healthcare team before starting an exercise routine. They can help you create a safe and effective workout plan.
5. Take Your Medications as Prescribed
If you have type II diabetes, your healthcare team may provide medication to help control your blood sugar levels. These medications work by helping your body use insulin more effectively or by making it easier for your body to produce insulin. It’s important to take these medications as prescribed and not to skip doses.
6. Drink Lots of Water & Avoid Sugary Drinks
It’s important to drink plenty of fluids, mainly water throughout the day. This will help your body remove excess glucose from your blood. Avoid sugary drinks, such as soda and fruit juice, as these can cause your blood sugar levels to rise. If you have trouble drinking plain water, try adding a slice of lemon or lime or try sparkling water or unsweetened iced tea.
7. Address Any Complications Promptly
Diabetes can cause several complications, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and nerve damage. That’s why it’s important to see your healthcare team regularly and promptly address any complications. If you have any concerns about your health, be sure to talk to your healthcare team. They can help you manage your diabetes and reduce your risk of complications.
Take Control of Your Diabetes
Making healthy choices is the best way to manage diabetes, but it isn’t always easy. These tips can help you take control of your diabetes and improve your overall health. Remember, it’s important to work with your healthcare team to develop a diabetes management and treatment plan that is right for you. With the proper care and treatment, you can live a long, healthy life.