If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, you’re probably very aware of the things you can do to help manage it, including eating healthy foods, being active and managing stress. For some, taking medicine can be another important part of the day.
Keep this checklist handy to help you stay on top of your daily diabetes to-do's.
Whether you’re eating at home or a restaurant, it can be a challenge to find healthy options. First, work with your doctor or nutritionist to create a meal plan. Then, follow these tips to make wise food choices.
- Fill the largest section of a nine-inch plate with vegetables like salad, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.
- Put grains and starchy foods such as bread, noodles, rice, corn and potatoes in a smaller section.
- Put a protein such as fish, chicken, lean beef or cooked dried beans in the last section.
Eat out wisely
- Choose baked, broiled, grilled or poached beef, poultry or fish.
- At the start of the meal, put half of your food in a to-go box.
- If you're ordering a drink, ask for low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, a diet drink or black coffee. These are low in calories and sugar.
- Pass on the high-sugar, high-fat dessert, or share it with your meal companion. You could also go for fruit as a tasty but healthier choice.
- Fill the grocery cart so that half of it contains non-starchy vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, spinach, onions and peppers.
- Add lean proteins, fruit, whole grains, beans and starchy vegetables to the rest of the cart.
It's important to follow a healthy diet, but don’t deprive yourself! Check with your doctor or dietitian about having a treat every now and then.
You’ve decided to start exercising. Good for you! Hopefully, you’ve checked with your doctor about the best activities for you. Here are a few things to check off as you get started (and keep going!).
- Drink plenty of fluids while exercising to prevent dehydration.
- If you take insulin, it’s especially important to check your blood sugar before engaging in physical activity.
- Wear comfortable, well-fitting cotton socks and athletic shoes.
- After you exercise, check your blood glucose level.
- Check your feet for blisters, sores, cuts, irritation or other injuries.
Dealing with stress
Stress is a part of life, and it includes the pressure of managing your diabetes every day. One of the problems with this stress is that it may keep you from taking care of yourself properly. It can also affect your blood sugar levels. So it’s important to take a few tips to heart. And, if need be, ask your doctor for a referral to a mental health counselor.
- Try to move more (see the list above). Even taking a brief walk can have a calming effect that lasts for hours.
- Call on a friend or family member who knows you well, makes you smile and, most importantly, won’t cause you more stress.
- Learn a few breathing exercises or try yoga or meditation.
- Get enough sleep.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol, which can add to anxiety and feelings of stress.
- Set aside some "me" time. Recharge by sitting on a park bench, reading or watching something humorous, or simply resting in a chair.
Diabetes is a complex condition, and managing it can sometimes feel overwhelming. While day-to-day diabetes care is up to you, keep in mind that you have support from your doctor, family and friends. That’s something to keep at the top of your list!
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