Managing Your Diabetes Isn’t Easy—But It’s Worth It

Managing diabetes isn’t easy, especially during the holidays when it’s hard to stick to your routine and treats and goodies seem to be everywhere. But it’s definitely worth it.

Diabetes is a serious disease that affects 29 million adults in the United States. Left undiagnosed or untreated, diabetes can lead to serious health problems such as vision loss, heart and kidney disease, and stroke. Managing your diabetes as early as possible is important to help prevent future diabetes-related health problems.  If you have diabetes, here are some steps to help you manage the disease and live a long and active life:

Manage your diabetes ABCs. Talk with your health care team about how to manage your A1C (blood glucose), blood pressure, and cholesterol—and, if you smoke, how to quit. The A1C is a blood test that measures your average blood glucose, or blood sugar level, over the past 3 months and is different from your daily blood glucose checks.

Make Healthy Food Choices

Making healthy food choices is an important part of managing diabetes. Talk with your diabetes health care team to make a diabetes meal plan that will work for you.

  • Choose foods lower in calories, fat, sugar, and salt.
  • Eat foods with more fiber, such as whole-grain cereals and breads.
  • Choose foods such as fruits, vegetables, and low-fat or skim milk and cheese.
  • Drink water instead of sugar-sweetened juice and soda.


Be Active

If you aren’t physically active, there’s no time like the present to get started. You needn’t postpone a healthier lifestyle until the new year.

  • Set a goal to be more active most days of the week.
  • Start slowly by making small changes, such as adding three, 10-minute walks to your day.
  • Try gardening, swimming, dancing, and bike riding as other ways to add activity to your routine.
  • Stay at or get to a healthy weight by using your meal plan and moving more.


Take Your Medicines as Prescribed

Take your medicines for diabetes and any other health problems even when you feel good. Tell your doctor if you cannot afford your medicines or if you have any side effects.

The holiday season can be hectic, but try to:

  • Not scrimp on sleep. The busyness of the season might tempt you to forgo sleep. Lack of sleep has been shown to increase the risk of weight gain. As hard as it may be, focus on getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Reduce screen time. Pull your family and friends away from the football games on TV and video games they got as gifts. Take a walk together, have a dance party, or go sledding instead.
  • Keep physical activity part of your daily routine. Park farther from the mall entrance. Use the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Take a few laps around your office or outside your building if your job permits. These small steps can add up—and make a difference.

Managing diabetes is a balancing act. It includes managing your diabetes ABCs, making healthy food choices, staying active, and taking your medicines as prescribed. If you need help, remember you’re not alone. Ask members of your health care team and family for support. Managing your diabetes isn’t easy, but it’s worth it!

The NIDDK has science-based information to help you manage and prevent diabetes and live a healthy life. Visit the NIDDK website and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

View posts by National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Written on behalf of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). For evidence-based information about managing your weight all year long, as well as information about diabetes, kidney disease, and related health issues, visit the NIDDK website and follow NIDDK on Facebook and Twitter.

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