Knowing how to manage diabetes is crucial for more than 18 million children and adults who have been diagnosed in the United States. To live a healthy life with diabetes requires disciplined blood sugar monitoring and various lifestyle changes. There is no cure for diabetes, and complications range from neuropathy to vision loss to heart disease. However, diabetics who communicate with their doctors and remain committed to their long-term management plans can often live years without suffering from serious adverse impacts to their health. These five tips can help anyone who needs to manage diabetes.
- Record Your Blood Sugar Levels: Regularly testing blood sugar levels is an everyday part of life for people with diabetes. However, writing down blood sugar levels each day can help you understand how your diet, exercise habits and other lifestyle choices affect your body over time.
- Focus on Fresh Foods: The best way to naturally maintain normal blood sugar levels is to eat a healthy diet. Whenever possible, fill your diet with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads, lean meats and other simple foods. Also, avoid processed foods or packaged foods containing multiple ingredients that are often laden with sugar.
- Exercise Regularly: Cardiovascular exercise at least five days a week can aid the metabolic process and help to regulate blood sugar levels. Perhaps more importantly, exercising is a great way to improve your overall health and reduce your risk of heart disease, the most dangerous complication from diabetes. Physical activity is even more important for people who are diabetic.
- Never Skip Breakfast: People often talk about skipping breakfast as if it's some sort of badge of honor for leading a busy life. However, few things are worse for people with diabetes. A nutritious breakfast is essential for preventing dangerous drops in blood sugar levels later in the day. If you're seriously too rushed to eat before leaving the house, then keep nutrition bars in your car to eat during your morning commute.
- Plan for Discreet Blood Sugar Testing: Poking yourself with needles can make others uncomfortable, even if they know you have diabetes. For some, it's an issue of sanitation; others may have a phobia toward shots or blood. Keep your diabetes testing supplies in a small bag to make ducking into the restroom for tests easier. If you can get a minute alone at your desk, you can also get alcohol wipes for quick sterilizing and a small, empty milk carton for storing used needles.