10 Smart Ways to Manage Your DiabetesBy Parveen Verma, DO, FACE, Endocrinologist, Virtua Endocrinology – Cherry Hill
Diabetes is a challenging condition on its own, but it also heightens your risk of developing conditions like chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, nerve and eye damage, and dementia.
Fortunately, these 10 easy-to-understand strategies can positively impact your overall health and help you avoid complications.
Know your diabetes ABCs.Understanding three key numbers can help keep your condition in check.
“A” stands for A1C, a blood test that measures your average blood sugar level over the past three months. Many people with diabetes aim for an A1C below 7.
“B” is for blood pressure, and having it too high damages your blood vessels and organs.
“C” is for cholesterol, and keeping it as low as possible reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Monitor your blood sugar levels.By using a blood glucose meter, you can make sure your blood sugar levels are in the target range. Through regular monitoring, you’ll learn how your body reacts to factors such as food, exercise, and medicine.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet.Focus on fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains while minimizing processed foods, sugary drinks, and alcohol. But it’s not just the types of food you eat. Portion control, carbohydrate counting (carbs have a big impact on your blood sugar levels), and coordinating your meals and medications are all important.
Exercise, exercise, exercise.Physical activity helps keep your weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar under control. In general, aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise. This includes running, walking, dancing, swimming, or even doing housework.
Take medicines as prescribed by your health care provider.Your health care team may prescribe you insulin or other drugs to manage your blood sugar, cholesterol, or blood pressure. It’s important to take them as directed. Be sure to store them correctly, and report any problems to your provider.
Manage stress.Easing tension can improve your mental and physical health. Start a daily meditation or other mindfulness practice. Reach out for help when you need it—from friends, family, or a mental health professional.
Stop smoking, if you currently do.Not only is smoking a cause of diabetes, but it also makes managing diabetes more difficult. People who have diabetes and who smoke are at a higher risk for heart disease, kidney disease, poor blood flow, vision loss, and nerve damage.
Pay particular attention to your feet.Diabetes can cause nerve damage that makes it difficult to feel an injury, so it’s important to check your feet every day to make sure they’re still in good shape. If you have trouble seeing the bottom of them, use a mirror. Look and feel for any cuts, calluses, swelling, hot spots, or dry skin. To protect your feet, wash them with warm water and carefully dry them afterward. Use lotion to keep them moisturized, but don’t put it in between your toes.
Stay on track.A number of smartphone apps are available to help you track your meals, blood sugar, carbs, blood pressure, weight, medication, and activities—and then share the information with your care team.
Don’t put off treatment.If you notice something’s amiss—for instance, you think you may have a foot infection or you’re having problems with your medication, don’t delay—see your health care provider. Getting treatment early reduces the chance of serious complications.
Get help now to get diabetes under controlVirtua Nutrition and Diabetes Care offers personal diabetes self-management education to help you manage your condition. Call 888-847-8823.
Updated February 22, 2022