Managing Diabetes: 8 Tips for Success | Carson Tahoe Health

At your latest checkup, routine blood work showed that your blood sugar levels, or blood glucose levels, were high, and your primary care provider diagnosed you with Type 2 diabetes. What now? Making a few simple changes to your daily routine can make a big difference when it comes to managing diabetes.

Your healthcare team at Carson Tahoe Health can provide you with diabetes care and the support system you need to navigate the specifics of your diagnosis. Staying as informed as possible is your best strategy for managing your diabetes successfully.

Making Sense of Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that occurs when your blood sugar levels are too high. When the body is functioning optimally, the pancreas produces a hormone called insulin, which helps you turn glucose from the foods you eat into energy. In people with diabetes, this process is disrupted. Depending on the type of diabetes a person has, the pancreas may not produce enough insulin or any at all, or the body may simply not metabolize insulin properly, causing high blood glucose.

There are three primary types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body makes little or no insulin due to an autoimmune disorder.
  • Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t use insulin effectively, often due to lifestyle factors.
  • Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy and increases a woman’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Diabetes is incredibly common among Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 37.3 million Americans have diabetes, and many more are at risk. Of that number, most people have Type 2 diabetes. Only 5% to 10% percent have Type 1 diabetes.

Symptoms of diabetes can include increased thirst, hunger, and urination. Other symptoms are excessive fatigue, vision problems, nonhealing wounds, numbness or tingling in the feet or hands, and unexplained weight loss. These symptoms may develop over a few weeks with Type 1 diabetes, while Type 2 diabetes symptoms typically develop more slowly.

8 Tips for Managing Diabetes

If you’re diagnosed with diabetes, it’s important to do your best to manage the condition and lower your blood sugar. High blood sugar that goes untreated can lead to many different health problems throughout the body, including heart attack, heart disease, nerve damage, and eye problems.

Unsure where to begin after a diabetes diagnosis? These tips are a good starting point:

  1. Move your body often. Being physically active most days of the week can help you lower your blood sugar and maintain good overall health. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week, such as brisk walking, jogging, or swimming.
  2. Follow a diabetes meal plan. A diabetes education program can help you learn how to fill your plate with fresh, nutrient-dense foods. You’ll want to look carefully at nutrition labels, avoiding saturated fat, added sugar, and excess sodium whenever possible.
  3. Know your numbers. When you have diabetes, you’re at an increased risk of other health conditions, including heart disease. It’s important to see your medical provider regularly for checkups and to keep an eye on health measures like blood pressure and cholesterol. Work with your healthcare team to effectively manage any chronic conditions you have.
  4. Get to a healthy weight. Talk with your provider about what a healthy weight looks like for you—and then take steps to lose weight, if needed. Losing just a little weight can make a big difference in lowering blood sugar.
  5. Check your blood sugar regularly. Your healthcare team and diabetes educators can provide you with guidance on how often you should check your glucose level each day. This guidance may include checking your blood sugar first thing in the morning, before or after meals, and before or after physical activity. Keeping an eye on your blood sugar levels can help you identify what causes your blood glucose to fluctuate.
  6. Stay in tune with your mental health. Those who have diabetes are at a higher risk of developing certain mental health conditions, including depression. People with diabetes are two to three times more likely to have depression than those without diabetes. Talk with your medical provider if you are experiencing any mood fluctuations that aren’t normal for you, such as sadness, anxiety, lethargy, or feelings of hopelessness.
  7. Find healthy ways to manage stress. Stress hormones can cause your blood sugar to rise. It’s impossible to entirely avoid stress, but it’s important to take steps to manage stress effectively so that it doesn’t cause health problems. Look for ways to lessen the harmful effects of stress, such as meditation, prayer, yoga, a hobby, or spending time with friends.
  8. Prioritize getting quality sleep. Not getting enough sleep at night can diminish your ability to manage diabetes. When you don’t get enough sleep, you’re more likely to make poor food choices and less likely to exercise. Plus, your body’s ability to use insulin is negatively affected. Aim to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.

These tips can help you manage your blood sugar and live your best life. Talk with your healthcare team about what else you can do to stay healthy.

Need help managing diabetes? Find an endocrinologist to get started.