It’s important to craft a diabetes management plan with your endocrinologist or other health specialists to ensure you’re doing what’s necessary to control your blood glucose levels.
It’s also equally important to actually stick with the plan.
Diabetes management relies mostly on discipline – sticking to healthy dietary and exercise routines.
More than a million people are diagnosed with diabetes yearly. And thousands die annually from diabetes-related complications.
Here are seven essentials to include in your diabetes management plan to stay healthy:
1. Make well-balanced meals.
Every meal should include a variety of starches, fruits and vegetables, proteins and fats. When it comes to carbohydrates, however, some are better than others. Fruits, for example, are low in carbs but contain fiber that helps stabilize your blood sugar levels. Make sure to limit fatty and salty foods.
2. Count carbohydrates.
Carbs have the most impact on your blood sugar levels. Why? The body breaks down digestible carbs into sugar. The sugar then enters the blood stream. This is important in type 2 diabetes – a condition when the body can’t produce enough insulin or properly use the insulin. If you’re taking insulin before or after meals, counting carbs in your food is crucial to making sure you get the right dose of insulin.
3. Schedule meals and medications.
You could become hypoglycemic by eating too little food in proportion to your diabetes medicine. That’s when your blood sugar gets too low. On the other hand, too much food can lead to hyperglycemia – when the blood sugar level gets too high. Work with your doctor to find the right balance.
4. Check your feet.
People living with diabetes can develop nerve problems that can get worse over time. Each day, examine your feet for scabs, blisters, wounds and swelling.
5. Exercise regularly.
Generally, adults should workout at least 30 minutes a day. Check on your blood sugar levels before, during and after exercising if you’re on medication that lowers blood sugar. Adjust your insulin dose as needed when exercising.
6. Control blood pressure and cholesterol.
High blood pressure and cholesterol levels can lead to heart disease, which is a common complication of diabetes. Ask your doctor how you can manage these levels and include them in your diabetes plan.
7. Drink alcohol safely.
If you’re taking insulin or other diabetes medicine, drinking alcohol on an empty stomach is bad. Eat a meal before going out for an alcoholic beverage, or drink alcohol while eating to prevent your blood sugar level from dropping. Also, keep in mind that light beers and dry wines have fewer calories and carbs than other alcohol drinks. This could play a factor in your carb count for the day.