Managing your diabetes requires education and awareness. You need to learn about the factors that make blood sugar rise or fall and what elements of your life you can control to keep your levels in a safe range. The following are several areas to pay attention to when becoming skilled at managing your diabetes.
The foods you eat partly dictate and can rapidly change your blood sugar levels. Thus, when you have diabetes, you need to be more aware than the average person of the effects each meal can have. Choosing the right foods alone is not sufficient, either. You must also pay attention to food combinations that are more impactful than the constituent parts alone.
Some tips concerning food and diabetes are:
- Make sure to balance your meals
- Be careful of portion sizes and find out about counting carbohydrates
- Time your medications and meals correctly
- Avoid drinks with sugar in them
You may not realize it, but exercise is also a significant part of diabetes management. Your muscles must break down glucose (sugar) for energy while exercising. In this way, physical activity is a powerful tool that keeps your blood glucose levels in check. If you exercise regularly, that also helps condition your body for efficient use of insulin.
The positive effects of physical activity on blood sugar will last longer with more strenuous workouts. But even light and moderate exercise derived from just being on your feet/active throughout the day will deliver not-insignificant benefits. Activities like gardening, housework, or taking walks are good examples.
Tips for exercise and diabetes:
- Be sure to stay hydrated
- Work out an exercise plan with your doctor
- Keep to a regular exercise schedule
- Check your blood sugar level often – before, during, and after working out
- Know what blood sugar levels are safe for you (ask your doctor)
- Prepare for unexpected changes by keeping medication and sources of glucose with you
- Adjust your plans as needed if something is not working well
If diet and exercise alone are inadequate to keep your blood sugar levels in check, you may need to take insulin or other medications for diabetes. For example, it is common for some people with diabetes to wear an insulin pump like those made by Tandem Diabetes, which delivers a specified amount of insulin throughout the day. You can use an insulin pump to give yourself a bolus injection should you need an extra insulin dose immediately.
In terms of effectiveness, much depends on the size of the dose of a particular medication and its timing. For example, if you must be on medicine for something besides diabetes, keep in mind that it can also affect your blood sugar.
Tips for medication and diabetes:
- Make sure you store your insulin properly
- If you encounter problems, tell your doctor promptly
- Be careful if taking a new medication
While there is much more to know about managing one’s diabetes, the above are some of the most critical areas on which to focus. So always talk to your doctor when creating or changing your diabetes management plan.