Diabetes Management: 10 Healthy Habits

Patrick GrueschowJanuary 4, 2024

Managing your diabetes is a critical component to minimizing your risk for complications and setting yourself up for the healthiest life possible. Success starts with creating a routine and implementing healthy habits for diabetes self-management.

1. Learn about nutrition.

Having diabetes is much more than just being aware of your sugar or carbohydrate intake. Your blood sugar may respond to certain foods differently than others. Understanding why can help you make insightful changes to your diet. One of the best things you can do for diabetes management is to design a healthy diet pattern. Emphasizing whole and minimally-processed foods like fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds provides you with the most nutrition and also helps maintain a steady blood sugar level.

2. Don’t skip meals.

Eating on a regular schedule is one of the best things you can do for diabetes self-management. A predictable eating pattern with healthy sources of protein, fat, and carbohydrates helps keep blood sugar levels steady. For instance, putting together a satisfying breakfast is a great way to start your day. After fasting overnight, it’s important to replenish your energy levels. Skipping meals can cause your blood sugar to drop. It’s also helpful to keep healthy snacks on hand in case you find yourself in a situation where you won’t be able to grab a sit-down meal during the day.

3. Test your blood sugar regularly.

The most critical piece of basic diabetes management is to test your blood sugar. You can learn about your blood sugar trends before and after meals, in the morning, and before bedtime. Become a master of testing your blood sugar at least 3-4 times per day, so it soon becomes second nature. Accurately test results can help determine the best course of action if you need to correct your levels with food or medication. Using the DigiVibe device to eliminate the pain of finger pricks with your regular blood sugar routine can help motivate you to test more often.

4. Create a regular sleep routine.

We’ve all experienced the negative effects of poor or inadequate sleep. Getting enough sleep is also helpful for keeping steady energy and blood sugar levels. Going to bed and waking up around the same time every day can help prevent overeating and reduce cravings for less healthy foods, both of which can result in unwanted blood sugar responses. If you struggle to keep a bedtime routine, it may be helpful to get an app or timer to help you stay on track.

5. See your doctor.

Even though you may not need to see your doctor frequently, establish a good rapport with your healthcare provider. They’re essential advocates for you to have as you manage your diabetes health. Diabetes is not a condition that should be managed alone, and having good medical care is crucial to your success. Your doctor can help you make sure your current lifestyle and medication habits are working or if adjustments are needed. In addition to getting regular wellness exams to check things like hemoglobin A1c and cholesterol, your feet and eyes should also be evaluated to make sure there are no signs of diabetes-related complications.

6. Practice stress management.

Stress management can be an especially helpful factor in diabetes self-management. In times of stress, your body produces more stress hormones like epinephrine, cortisol, and glucagon, which can reduce insulin and raise your blood sugar. Think about things you enjoy doing that help you feel relaxed. Some ideas might include practicing yoga, meditating, stretching, keeping a journal, painting, spending time with friends, reading a book, listening to music, or taking your dog for a walk.

7. Enjoy physical activity.

Regular exercise is good for managing stress levels and maintaining a healthy body weight. It’s also helpful for keeping blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure within optimal, steady ranges. If you’re not already active, think about ways you can slowly begin adding exercise to your routine. This may look like an early morning walk around your neighborhood, joining a group fitness class, or pumping up your bike tires and exploring new areas with a friend. Try switching things up to prevent boredom and find some activities you really enjoy.

8. Keep a record book.

Forming a new habit can take a few weeks, and the same goes for diabetes self-management. Collecting data can be a helpful first step. As you learn how to test your blood sugar levels, keep a record book of your readings. This will give you a visual to refer back to and can show you trends and patterns. It can be helpful to keep notes about things like when you ate, what and how much you ate, physical activity, stressors, and any side effects you may be feeling at the time.

9. Take your medications.

Just as healthy foods and exercise are critical components of diabetes management, taking any medications you’re prescribed is equally essential. Your healthcare team will help determine which medications you need, including when and how much to take. It’s then up to you to make sure you take them as directed. If you need help remembering, try sticking post-it notes on your bathroom mirror or downloading a reminder app to your phone to avoid missing any doses.

10. Learn about your body.

A big part of successful diabetes self-management education is understanding your unique body. While a lot is understood about diabetes as a general condition, you’re the one who knows your body – and how it is affected by diabetes – the best.

Remember that even when things feel overwhelming, you’re in control. You have the knowledge, tools, and resources to give your body what it needs and manage your blood sugar levels. You may be wondering how to manage diabetes well if you have been recently diagnosed. Diabetes health is dependent on your learning and practicing healthy lifestyle habits and following a routine. Check your blood sugar, feed and move your body well, check in with your healthcare team, and become your best advocate.

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