Diabetes Management: What Your Doctor Wants You to Know

Like so much else about health, diabetes management can be highly personal. Depending whether you experience Type I or Type II diabetes, you already know there are a number of things you need to do in order to keep yourself as healthy as possible. Keep these basics in mind between doctor’s appointments in order to help you manage your diabetes.

Follow Your Diet

Diabetes is an imbalance of blood sugar caused by the body’s inability to process sugar (glucose) and remove it from the body as quickly as it is taken in. If your body does not remove the sugar you take in from food, it will build up and cause medical problems. So one of the first things that all diabetics must learn to do is monitor their food intake. Diabetes can be well managed for some people by diet alone.

Talk with your doctor about the specifics that are right for you, but most diabetics follow a meal plan that is low in saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and salt. Choose foods that are unprocessed when possible, especially things like sauces and salad dressings. Whole grains, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables are often better for a diabetic to help regulate blood sugar. Your diet is a big part of diabetes management.

Exercise Daily

While most people try to get a few minutes of exercise every day, it’s especially important for people who are working on diabetes management. Physical activity boosts muscle activity, which helps your metabolism work harder to break down the sugars in your system. When you move your body, your whole body starts to move – on small, microscopic levels – that keep you healthy through and through.

Make it a goal to exercise at least 30 minutes every day. For low-impact exercises that don’t cause a great deal of stress on joints and lower limbs, try swimming, tai chi, or yoga. Elliptical machines can also be a good choice for people looking for low-impact but higher-cardio workouts.

Check Your Glucose Levels

Every day it is important for diabetes management to check your blood sugar levels. Knowing your normal, elevated, and low blood sugar levels are vital, and can even be life saving in certain circumstances. If you are on insulin therapy, it will be crucial to measure your blood sugar so you can properly administer your medicine.

While it used to be difficult and inconvenient to monitor blood sugar, today there are many options for easy-to-use and low-invasive blood glucose meters. Ask your health care provider about the best ways for you to check your glucose levels.

Monitor Your Medicine

At your regular doctor’s appointments, make sure you discuss your diabetes management regimen and whether it is still the right approach considering your current lifestyle. Maybe six months ago, you weighed a different amount or exercised more or less. Maybe there’s been a change in one of your other medications. In any case, make sure that you’re regularly discussing your treatment with your doctor and confirming that it’s the right treatment for you.

If you change your medication, be cautious. Read all labels and be aware of what the side effects of your new medication can be – especially any dangerous side effects that could alert you to an allergic reaction. For the first few days, follow all safety guidelines about driving and machinery and monitor yourself for any issues.

In addition, when you are shopping for over the counter medicines for minor aches and pains, cough medicines, or especially dietary supplements, make sure to discuss your current medications with a pharmacist. Ask if there will be any issues with combining the two medications or if the OTC medicine could affect your blood sugar.

Alcohol and Street Drugs

Don’t risk your blood sugar levels. One aspect of diabetes management that many people overlook – or at least, would like to overlook – is how alcohol and nonprescription drugs can affect blood sugar. Many alcoholic beverages cause problems for diabetics, as they can be packed with empty calories or loaded with refined sugars. Other alcohols might be mixed with sugary syrups or fruit juices, all of which can cause havoc on your blood sugar levels. Although most people don’t consider how street drugs might interact with their insulin or other diabetes medicines, many nonpharmaceutical drugs are mixed with powdered sugar or other substances that are safe for most people to digest, but can react negatively in a diabetic’s system.