The month of January can feel full of possibility. As the new year begins, many of us start working toward our resolutions to manage diabetes better—whether that means exercising regularly, eating healthier or checking blood sugar more often. But, as you begin working toward your goals, it can be easy to lose your motivation and fall back into old habits. That’s why it’s important to create a well thought out diabetes management plan.
Think outside Rx
Diabetes management goes beyond medication. While it’s important to take insulin, check your blood sugar and follow your doctor’s instructions, there are plenty of ways you can help improve your diabetes symptoms and prevent complications without the help of a medical professional.
- Prep meals ahead of time – Prepare homemade meals for the week to enjoy food that is healthier, cheaper and more convenient to come home to than takeout. The plate method is an easy way to make sure you’re eating the right portions of each food group. Start with a 9-inch dinner plate and fill half with non-starchy vegetables, one quarter with lean protein and a quarter with a grain or starchy food like potatoes, brown rice or whole-wheat bread.
- Mind the carbs – Carbohydrates often have the biggest effect on your blood sugar levels. If you’re taking mealtime insulin, it’s also important to know how many carbs are in your meal so you can get the proper insulin dose. For packaged foods, you can find the number of carbs in grams on the nutrition label. For unpackaged foods, look up the number of carbs using this carb counter from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Live an active lifestyle – Regular exercise can help you control your blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of many diabetes complications. Not to mention, it can help you sleep better, boost your memory and help you feel happier! Try to work your way to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity or an equivalent mix of the two each week. Always check with your doctor before you increase your activity level.
- Stay on top of stress – When you’re stressed, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode and prepares itself by boosting energy (or sugar) levels. To better manage stress, try starting a daily meditation routine. Simply find a quiet place, get comfortable and focus your attention on your breath. In just a few minutes, meditation can help you feel a sense of calm that can help improve your mental and physical health.
- Personalize your plan – Create a diabetes management plan that matches your tastes, lifestyle and interests. Are you a nature lover? Go for a hike or explore a local park to get your exercise in. Are you a fan of Italian food? Trade out regular pasta for whole-wheat pasta instead of giving up your favorite meals. The more you enjoy your new routine, the more likely you are to stick with it!
Keep up with your care
Living a balanced lifestyle can help you stay happy, healthy and in control of your diabetes. But, it is important to visit your health care providers for regular check up’s and tests, which can help identify issues early on when they’re easier to treat.
- Dental exam – Since having diabetes puts you at a higher risk for cavities, gum disease and other oral health problems, it’s important to get your teeth and gums cleaned at least once a year (more often if your doctor recommends) and make sure you let your dentist know you have diabetes.
- A1C test – An A1C test will tell you your average blood glucose level over three months, giving you a chance to analyze your diabetes management plan and make lifestyle adjustments if necessary. If you’re meeting your treatment and blood sugar goals, you should have an A1C test done to measure your average blood sugar levels every six months. If you’re not meeting your goals, you should have an A1C test done every three months.
- Doctor’s visit – Since diabetes can lead to complications like cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, vision issues, nerve problems and more, it’s important to visit your doctor for a check-up every 6 months—even if you’re meeting your treatment goals. When you do, your doctor will help review your self-care plan, check your medications and help ensure your well-being is at its best.
Get Pip delivered to your doorstep
Checking your blood sugar regularly is one of the most valuable things you can do to help keep your diabetes in check. But, constantly monitoring your blood sugar can be painful and time-consuming if you have to do it multiple times per day. For a quicker and more convenient way to check your blood sugar, take advantage of 15% off of a subscription with Pip. With one of our subscriptions, you can get lancets, pen needles, a glucose meter and all the diabetes supplies you need, delivered right to your home.
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Mayo Clinic: “Diabetes management: How lifestyle, daily routine affect blood sugar”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Diabetes Meal Planning”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Get Active!”
University of California, San Francisco: “Blood Sugar & Stress”
WebMD: “Ways to Manage Stress”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Your Diabetes Care Schedule”
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Know Your Blood Sugar Numbers: Use Them to Manage Your Diabetes”