When it comes to diabetes you only spend an average of 63 minutes each year with your doctor. The rest of the time that means that your diabetes care is up to you.
It’s important to establish personal health goals to get you on the path to a longer life free of diabetes complications. Work with your health team establish personal goals for the treatment of your diabetes. The first step may simply be to get your diabetes under control. After that you can work on other steps to a healthier lifestyle such as quitting smoking, losing weight, adjusting your diet or exercising regularly.
Whether your diabetes is well or poorly controlled it’s equally important to establish personal goals to keep you motivated to stay in good control.
Check Your Blood Glucose Regularly
We can’t emphasize enough how CRITICAL this part of your self-management program is to your long term health! You need to check your blood glucose multiple times each day. The key to avoiding the serious complications of diabetes is keeping blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible. Your doctor will help you set a target goal.
Have Your A1C Checked 4 Times a Year
Your A1C is a simple blood test that tells you how well you’ve maintained your glucose levels over the previous 3 months. Your doctor will set a goal for you to reach. Obtaining your target and maintaining it will help you to avoid the complications of diabetes.
Develop and follow your diabetes food plan
If you do not have one, be sure to develop one with your health care team. Your doctor can refer you to a dietitian who will help you determine what kinds of foods you should be eating based on your health profile. This will include eating the right portions of healthy foods: fruits and vegetables (half your plate at each meal), fish, lean meats, dry beans, whole grains, and low-fat milk and cheese. It will also mean eliminating foods that have high salt and fat content. See Nutrition Basics
Stay at a healthy weight
Yo-yoing your weight up and down with diets that don’t work can be as bad for your body as maintaining a slightly higher weight that you know you can keep. Being physically active and eating the right amounts of healthy foods will help.
Get 30 to 60 minutes of activity on most days of the week. It can be any type of activity from walking to gardening. Start with a 5- to 10-minute walk three times a week. Then, walk longer and more often.
Smoking (along with diabetes) is a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease. If you smoke seek help to quit.
Take your medication as prescribed
If for some reason you are having problems paying for the medications your doctor is prescribing you need to let them know right away. There are programs available to assist you cover the costs.
Look at your feet!
Check your feet every day for cuts, blisters, red spots, and swelling. Call your health care team right away about any sores that won’t heal. See Foot Care
See Your Dentist
People with diabetes are at greater risk for periodontal disease and tooth loss. See your dentist at least twice a year. Tell the dentist you have diabetes. See Dental Care.
Work with your health care team, friends, and family to reach your goals. Set goals you can reach and break a big goal into small steps. Make little changes that you can stick with for the rest of your life.
Tips for staying with your plan
- Make a list of all your reasons to control your diabetes for life.
- Try to figure out what tempts you to slip up in reaching your goals. Decide now how you will handle these events next time.
- Reward yourself for staying in control. Spend time with a friend or go to a show.
- Ask for a little help from friends or family especially when you’re down
- Learn to manage setbacks. Admit that you’ve slipped and learn what you can from it and move on.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. Work towards a healthy future.