Diabetes Self-Management

Today, an estimated 29 million people – 1 out of 11 – are living with diabetes in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On top of this, 86 million people have pre-diabetes. Without switching to a healthy diet and getting moderate exercise, 15 to 30 percent of these people will be diagnosed with diabetes within the next five years.

Thanks to advancements in technology and better treatment, those with diabetes now live longer, and with a better quality of life, than ever before. Even so, if you recently received a diabetes diagnosis, it’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed. Your life is about to change quite drastically. Though it may be difficult to think with a straight head during this emotional time, it’s important to make smart choices that will keep you healthy for years to come.

Among these smart choices will be decisions related to self-management, which is crucial to good diabetes care. Several large-scale trials have demonstrated that comprehensive diabetes self-management can improve glycemic control and prevent complications from type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Of course, this is all within the research arena. The challenge for many people with diabetes is knowing what to do once they’ve stepped outside of their doctors’ offices and are back in the “real world.”

Here are some diabetes self-management methods you can implement today.

Follow your doctor’s orders

After your initial diagnosis, your doctor will prescribe you a series of diabetes medicines. It’s extremely important to take your medication as directed. Not doing so may lower the level of glucose in your blood and cause the insulin your body to go up. The medicines then become less effective when you do eventually take them.

Eat the right foods

People with diabetes should avoid (or at least limit their intake of) foods that are high in sugar, salt, and fat. Instead, fill up on whole-grain foods and nutritious fruits and vegetables. It’s also advised to eat smaller portions and learn what the serving sizes are for different foods and how many servings you need in each meal.

Get enough exercise

When you have diabetes, staying active helps keep your weight and blood pressure under control, not to mention reduces your risk of developing heart disease and nerve damage. Experts recommend moderate-intensity physical activity for at least 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week. Be sure to talk to your doctor about a safe exercise plan before you begin.