Your Path to Successful Control of Diabetes
If you've had diabetes for a year or more, you've probably already learned the skills you need to manage your condition, yet it's natural to feel overwhelmed at times. You can make your management plan easier to live with. Try these tips to help keep yourself on the path to good health.
Evaluate your lifestyle
Write down the things in your life that make it hard to stick with your routine. Then think of ways to improve the situation. Here are some suggestions:
Keep stress under control. Stress is a normal part of life. It can be short term, such as having to wait in line when you’re in a hurry, or long term such as living in a difficult marriage. Mental stress causes the body to produce extra hormones. These hormones make it difficult to control your blood sugar. Short-term stress will go away, but long-term stress won’t—and it may make it difficult to manage your diabetes. You can keep stress under control through exercise, hobbies, community activities, and relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises.
Get moving. Make it easy to get exercise. Exercise will help control your blood sugar, reduce stress, and control weight. Join a gym close to home or keep your walking shoes by the front door for a quick jaunt after dinner. Recruit your spouse or a friend—exercising with a partner can be motivating.
Eat well. Good nutrition and a careful meal plan will make it easier to manage your diabetes and control your weight. Buy nutritious foods. Stock your kitchen with fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber foods. You're less likely to succumb to cravings if high-fat treats are out of reach.
Stay up to date. Keep up with recommended screening exams and immunizations for you and your family. Although your attention is focused on managing your diabetes, don’t forget to have recommended dental checkups, cholesterol and cancer screenings recommended for your age and gender, and vaccinations, such as an annual flu shot or a one-time pneumonia shot. Your children and spouse should get appropriate screenings and vaccinations, too. Healthy family members will help keep you healthy and reduce stress.
Know what to do when you get sick. Colds, the flu, and intestinal upsets are common, but they can make control of your blood sugar more difficult. Talk with your health care provider and plan how you will take care of yourself if you become ill.
If family or friends seem to be undermining your efforts, sit down and talk seriously with them about how important their support is to you and to your efforts. Let them know what you need to do to control your diabetes and how they can help. Also, take a look at your own behavior. An on-again, off-again approach to diabetes management can confuse people.
If you don't belong to a support group, consider joining one. Also, think about offering support to people who have just been diagnosed. Helping others can help reinforce your efforts. Look for a group through your local clinic or the American Diabetes Association.
Prepare for setbacks
Everyone has setbacks. When you veer off course, try not to beat yourself up; that will only increase your risk for a relapse. Rather, ask yourself what made you start to slip:
Are your goals too high? Small, easy-to-attain goals are easier to stick with.
Are you having trouble sticking with your plan? Now may be the time to assess how well your management plan matches your lifestyle. Then talk with your doctor about making some changes.
You're more likely to overcome temporary setbacks if you get right back on track. Give yourself credit for all the progress you've made, and focus on what you can learn from the experience.
Make it part of your diabetes management plan to set reasonable goals, and then treat yourself when you reach one. For example, when you fit in four or more exercise sessions in one week, take your medicine at the right time for a week or have only a small slice of cake on a special occasion, give yourself a nonfood reward. Keep a list of these rewards handy.
Because you have diabetes, you've made many changes that we all should make for good health. Instead of focusing on what you've given up, try to remember what you have to gain from your healthy habits. A positive attitude can help you keep up with those habits for life.