You may feel overwhelmed after a diagnosis of type 1 or type 2 diabetes. There are so many new lifestyle changes to make, from regular glucose checks to healthier food choices. But making the necessary changes doesn’t have to completely take over your life. Here are some tips and tricks that can help you learn to live better with diabetes.
1. Eat out wisely.
Due to larger portion sizes and unexpectedly high amounts of sugar in some menu items, it’s easy to end up with a high blood glucose level when you eat out. That said, planning ahead makes it easier to opt for healthier choices. If you plan on heading to a restaurant, check out the online menu first (and check the carb content, if nutritional information is posted), so you can choose your meal wisely and be less tempted, in the moment, to order something that will send your blood sugar sky high.
2. Sack it.
Bring your own lunch and snacks to work each day so you don’t need to eat out or hit the vending machine. When you plan ahead, and have the healthy foods you enjoy on hand, you’re less likely to (literally) bite off more than you can chew, glucose-wise.
3. Keep extra prescription meds and related supplies on hand.
Having extra supplies means you’ll never go without medication or insulin when you need it most. Keep extra testing strips and medication at work and in your workout bag. Have an extra glucometer on hand, just in case your go-to stops working. When you have spare supplies, you’ll always be able to stay on top of your glucose checks and management.
4. Stay active.
Moving your body is just as essential to managing diabetes as the foods you eat. According to the American Diabetes Association, physical activity not only helps you burn calories, it also helps to control blood sugar. To get the full benefit, you don’t have to run a marathon or become a power lifter — just find reliable, enjoyable ways to move your body each day. Maybe walk the neighborhood with friends in the morning, or try a yoga or dance class.
5. If in doubt, test.
There may be times you’re pretty sure your blood sugar is high (or low, for that matter) — but your guesses aren’t always right. If you have any doubts, the American Diabetes Association recommends that you test your glucose level — especially before meals, before exercise, and when you’re feeling a bit “off.” Making testing a regular habit helps you identify small problems before they become bigger ones.
6. Don’t be overly restrictive.
You’ve been given a list of all the foods you should eat to help you maintain control of your blood sugar. But that doesn’t mean you have to deny yourself your favorite foods. Treat yourself once in a while — but make sure to exercise portion control and count your carbs so you know how to best manage the resulting sugar spike! You’ll find that indulging on occasion can make many of the daily dietary changes easier to handle over the long term.
7. Find ways to de-stress.
Like carb-y foods, stress can wreak havoc on your blood sugar, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Stress hormones not only raise your blood pressure and heart rate but also your glucose level. Taking the time to find some calm, especially if you find yourself overwhelmed with your diabetes management, is always of benefit. Head out for a walk, do some breath work, meditate, or find a quiet place where you can just be.
Learning to live with diabetes can be a challenge — and, unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Everyone’s body is different. What works for one person with diabetes may not work for someone else. That’s why it’s so important to educate yourself, talk to your doctor, and try new things to see if they’ll help. Keep in mind that your mileage may vary, and when you find strategies that work for you, stick with them.