Managing Diabetes - Lifestyle Advice | Treatment Care & Tips

Treatment Care & Tips

Lifestyle Tips for Managing Diabetes

If you live with diabetes, you know how difficult it can be to manage your blood sugar. Diabetes affects how your body manages its sugar or glucose levels1. Keeping insulin levels in check can be a challenge. You must be careful about everyday activities like meals and exercise.

Insulin Basics

Our body needs insulin to help the energy from the food you eat get into your cells. When you have type 1 diabetes, your body doesn’t produce insulin. When you have type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or your body isn’t using the insulin properly. This is known as insulin resistance. Insulin is important because it regulates the amount of sugar in your blood.


Checking your Blood Sugar

It’s important to monitor and understand your sugar levels. Keeping your sugar levels in a good range can help prevent more serious health problems like kidney disease or vision loss2. Your doctor will tell you when you should check your blood sugar.  Most commonly, people check their levels when they first wake up, right before a meal, two hours after a meal and at bedtime3.


There are two different ways that you can check your blood sugar:

  • Blood sugar checks that you do yourself with a blood glucose meter. This tells you your levels as soon as you check.
  • The A1C test through your doctor, which reads your average blood sugar level over the past 2-3 months4.


Your doctor can help you determine a healthy level for your blood sugar.
People generally have targets like these:

  • 80-130 right before your meal
  • Lower than 180 two hours after the start of a meal5


If your blood sugar is too low or too high, it can present problems.

  • High blood sugar is when your blood sugar reading is above 180 or your target level. Signs include extreme fatigue, blurry vision and frequent urination. Try drinking a glass of water and doing some exercise6.
  • Low blood sugar is when your blood sugar level is below 70. Extreme hunger, sweat and shaky feelings are signs that your blood sugar is low. Carry snacks like sugar tablets, hard candy or fruit juice with you. Have a snack right away.  Test your blood sugar level 15 minutes later. If you do not see an increase in blood sugar levels, continue to snack until it is back to normal7.


The Impact of Exercise

Exercise can help lower your sugar levels by making your body more sensitive to insulin. Your muscles are better at using insulin to take up sugar during and after physical activity. In addition, cells can take up sugar and use it for energy when muscles contract during exercise, whether insulin is available or not8.In addition, exercise can make your bones and heart strong, improve circulation, reduce stress, lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels.


Staying Physically Active
Doctors recommend 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise at least 5 days per week. White that may seem like a lot, here are some tips to make it more manageable:

  • Start small: If you haven’t worked out in a while, begin in 5-10 minute increments and work your way up to longer periods of exercise
  • Find time: If 30 consecutive minutes of exercise per day doesn’t work for you, break it up into smaller chunks, like taking a 15-minute walk in the morning before work and another on your lunch break
  • Mix it up: Try a mixt of cardio and strength training. Aerobic exercises help your body use insulin better, while strength training makes body more sensitive to insulin, lowering sugar levels


The Role of Diet
It’s important to choose a meal plan that works for you and set eating patterns. Consider foods you like and don’t like as well as your lifestyle9. These are just a few diet options that you might want to consider to meet your weight and blood sugar goals:

  • Mediterranean
  • Vegan or vegetarian
  • Low fat
  • DASH ( Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension)
  • Low Carbohydrate

You could also try the Diabetes Plate Method. Simply take a 9-inch plate and fill half of it with vegetables like broccoli or zucchini (non starchy potatoes), one-quarter with food high in protein and the last one-quarter with carbohydrate foods.1 0

Try this easy fish taco recipe for a healthy and low-carb option.

View Recipe


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