Managing your Diabetes

In the U.S. there are roughly 29 million Americans who have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

While this is a frightening number, it also serves to let those diagnosed with the disease know that they are not alone. Every day, people are living with this incurable disease, although not without effort and vigilance on their part. Diabetes is a disease that must be carefully managed to reduce the numerous, inherent health risks. For that reason, people who have the disease must not only educate themselves on how to successfully manage their condition on a daily basis, but also follow through with diligence.

Managing your Diabetes

Blood sugar can fluctuate under various situations throughout the day. Checking one's blood sugar can help create an accurate picture for one's doctor that can help him or her determine the effectiveness of current medications, and how blood sugar is affected by one's lifestyle and certain activities.

Meals

Learning what foods to eat and what foods to avoid is an important part of managing diabetes and aids in weight loss. Diabetics should eat at least every five hours while awake. A healthy meal that will aid in the managing of one’s diabetes will contain a mix of vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods, proteins, healthy fats, and starches. These must be balanced appropriately, and attention must be given to the amount of carbohydrates eaten so that blood sugar levels are not negatively impacted. Consume larger amounts of vegetables and food items that will have minimum impact on blood sugar. When eating dinner, for example, this type of food should take up half of one’s plate. A fourth of one’s plate should be devoted to lean meats, fish, and other protein items. The final fourth of one’s dinner plate should be foods that contain starch and carbohydrates. It is also important to severely limit items such as whole fat dairy products, cakes and cookies, fried foods, crackers, margarine, and whole milk products.

Physical Activity

A part of diabetes management involves maintaining a healthy weight. To successfully achieve this, physical activity must be worked into one’s routine. Depending on one’s current level of fitness, physical activity should be of moderate or vigorous intensity. Physical activity should be no less than 30 minutes a day, five days a week, which translates into two hours and 30 minutes a week or more. Even people with minimal time for physical activity during the course of their day can work out in 30 minutes. To accomplish this, 30 minutes may be broken up into three workout sessions that consist of 10 minutes of moderate exercise each. Additionally, people who find it difficult to follow a traditional workout schedule and prefer not to join a gym should consider activities such as dancing, which can help them stay more physically active and that may even help with weight loss.

Check Your Blood Sugar

Blood sugar can fluctuate under various situations throughout the day. Checking one’s blood sugar can help create an accurate picture for one’s doctor that can help him or her determine the effectiveness of current medications, and how blood sugar is affected by one’s lifestyle and certain activities. Diabetics should also get into the habit of checking their blood sugar before, during, and after workouts. In general, the doctor will advise how frequently one should check his or her blood sugar. The results can be kept in a journal noting the date, time, and whether or not it was checked before or following a meal. Take this record of daily blood sugar results to doctor appointments. The doctor may or may not decide to make changes to the current treatment plan based off of these documented results.

Medication

Medication as prescribed by one’s doctor is critical in the management of diabetes. People who have been diagnosed with diabetes and prescribed medications should continue to take them according to the doctor’s instructions, regardless of how well they may feel. It should be taken on time, at as close to the same time every day. Failure to take medication as prescribed may negatively impact its effectiveness. If there is a problem with the medication, it is important for the patient to speak with his or her doctor about the concerns.

Stress

While some stress is unavoidable for most people, it is important that diabetics try to eliminate as much of it as possible. One way to accomplish this is to examine what things and people are regularly sources of stress, as it may be necessary to reduce or eliminate contact with these stressors. It is also possible to learn coping mechanisms to deal with unavoidable situations that are stressful. These mechanisms may include relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercise, taking a short break, and even learning to properly manage time.

Alcohol and Smoking

Patients who smoke when diagnosed with diabetes should discontinue the habit immediately. It is important that people with diabetes avoid second-hand smoke as well. When living with others who smoke, set strict rules regarding where they can and cannot smoke. Alcohol is another concern for people who are properly managing their diabetes, but unlike smoking, it doesn’t necessarily need to be avoided. For some, an alcoholic drink may be fine depending on how well their diabetes is being controlled. For this reason it is important to first consult one’s physician regarding whether or not it is safe to imbibe. If yes, avoid heavy drinking. This means that both men and women should drink moderately — no more than one alcoholic drink daily for women and two drinks for men. This should not be done on an empty stomach and the type of alcohol consumed should be chosen with care. Because alcohol contains carbohydrates and calories, diabetics will want to select sugar-free mixers for their mixed drinks, dry wines, and light beers. If keeping tabs on the number of calories, people will want to include the number of calories in any drink that is consumed.

Preventative Care

Get routine preventative care and watch for changes to certain parts of the body. Diabetics will need to get into the habit of providing their feet with extra care and attention. Feet should be kept moisturized and checked for changes on a daily basis. These visual inspections are to look for problems such as cuts, cracks or broken skin, or any general changes in appearance. One’s physician will need to be contacted as soon as possible if there are any noticeable concerns with the feet that do not improve within two days. In addition to the feet, any changes in one’s vision should also be discussed with one’s healthcare provider, and annual dilated eye exams should be performed. Keep up routine dental exams and see a dentist if gums are sore while brushing and bleeding is noted.

Follow Up With Your Primary Care Physician

Follow-up care is crucial to managing one’s diabetes. Diabetics must keep all appointments that are scheduled. At appointments, diabetics must be honest about struggles or changes that they have encountered. Even if a person is having difficulty with controlling their diabetes, honesty is the best policy, as doctors can provide useful assistance and knowledge to help their patients.

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