Often when you’re diagnosed with diabetes, the information you receive can be overwhelming. You may not know where to start when it comes to how to manage diabetes, so in this post, we’re going to break down the importance of a diabetes self-management plan, discuss how to control and monitor blood sugar levels with frequent testing, suggest lifestyle modifications you may want to make with regard to food and exercise and give tips on how to create a self-management plan. Plus, we’ll share where to get help as you develop and acclimate to your new routine.
The Importance of Diabetes Self-Management
Because managing diabetes is an ongoing part of life for anyone who has it, crafting a plan to stay on top of all the issues that can arise is vital for good health. Without proper attention, your blood sugar levels can fluctuate and result in issues like hypoglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis or hyperglycemia. If left untreated for long periods of time, more serious issues can arise such as organ damage that can affect vision, nerves, kidneys and even the heart.
Blood Sugar Management and Testing
Part of living with diabetes is checking your blood glucose levels regularly to ensure you’re in a safe zone. Depending on the type of diabetes you have, it may be necessary to test your blood sugar when you first wake, before a meal, two hours after a meal and right before you go to bed. In some cases, more frequent testing could be required. If your blood sugar level is not where it should be, to elevate it you can drink fruit juice, drink regular soda, eat hard candy or take glucose tablets. You may also need to take medication to stay within ideal blood sugar levels. Your doctor will be able to guide you through the best options for your health and recommend dosage amounts, if medication is necessary.
Food and Exercise
An important component of any diabetes self-management plan is a healthy, balanced diet. When you fill your body with good, nutritious meals, you help maintain a healthy weight and lessen the likelihood of worsening your condition. You may want to work with a dietitian or diabetes educator to develop a plan that both addresses the types of foods you should eat and formulate a schedule for when to consume them. An experienced professional will be able to help you understand nutritional labels at the grocery store, make smart choices when eating out, count carbohydrates and recommend ideal portion sizes.
In addition to choosing the right foods, it’s important to incorporate physical activity into your daily life, especially if it’s challenging to maintain an ideal body weight. At least 30 minutes of exercise should be budgeted into each day, whether it be hiking, jogging, swimming, dancing or another cardio-heavy activity. Talk with your doctor about the right types of activities for you and the intensity level at which you should apply them.
Developing a Diabetes Management Plan
To put together a cohesive diabetes self-management plan, you’ll want to organize each aspect of living with your condition to create a daily schedule that incorporates the best lifestyle strategies, then expand that to a long-term schedule that includes important medical check-ups as well. The ABCs are one way to remember important items: A for the A1C test, to show blood glucose over a 3-month period; B for blood pressure to stay within the goal that your doctor recommends; C for cholesterol to maintain healthy levels; and S to stop smoking (if that’s a habit you have). Some also find it helpful to keep a journal to record test results, monitor weight gains and losses, and track food and exercise habits.
Consult With a Medical Professional
If you need help developing a diabetes management plan, consult with Western Washington Medical Group Diabetes & Nutrition Education Center, It may also be helpful to sign up for a Type 2 Diabetes Group Education Class, which you can register for here. For more general inquiries, complete this contact form.