What do you dream of?
Crossing the finish line at your next 10K, sweaty and exhausted and proud after beating your personal best? Feeling your baby's impossible strength as their miniature fingers curl around yours for the first time? Floating through a kaleidoscope of creatures as you snorkel off the coast of Australia?
Healthy glucose levels?
If you're one of the millions of Americans living with diabetes, you know that keeping a constant eye out for signs of low blood sugar and overall managing the condition can feel challenging at times. But, it shouldn't get in the way of reaching your dreams. Living well — whatever that means to you — starts with strong diabetes management.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), understanding how to manage diabetes can improve your energy and healing ability and reduce your chances of other health complications, such as a heart attack, nerve damage, kidney failure, blindness and gum disease.
Your doctor will tell you about the importance of diabetes nutrition in your disease management, but what else can you do? Here are helpful tips for keeping your diabetes under control and maintaining healthy glucose levels.
- Keep calm. Stress can cause your blood sugar to rise, according to the NIH. Find activities you like that help you relax. Try taking a walk, listening to your favorite music or gardening, whatever helps you cope.
- Drink in moderation. Drinking alcohol can produce signs of low blood sugar, according to the Mayo Clinic. When you drink, your liver works to process the alcohol, which can mean it's too busy to perform another important function: releasing stored sugar in response to low levels. Also, drinking alcohol can impair your ability to think clearly and make good treatment decisions.
- Adjust for your stage of life. The Mayo Clinic also explains that hormone levels can cause your blood sugar to fluctuate. For example, a woman may need to adjust her medication, meal plan or exercise level for her menstrual cycle. Going through menopause? You may need to make more adjustments and check your blood glucose more often. Talk to your doctor to determine a plan that's right for your body and its hormonal changes at different life stages.
- Be aware that some medications may affect your diabetes. As the Mayo Clinic notes, some medications are sweetened, and others may affect healthy glucose levels in other ways.
- Brush up on your oral hygiene. Diabetes puts you at greater risk for gum disease. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), that's because people with diabetes have a lowered ability to fight infection from bacteria in the mouth.
- Travel with a plan. Traveling can disrupt your normal routine, so be sure to plan ahead. The ADA recommends talking with your doctor about how to adjust and ensure you have medication to last while you're out of town.
- Sweeten it yourself. To give yourself more control, you can reduce sugar in your diet by adding your own sweeteners. Not only will you support your diabetes nutrition strategy, you'll likely add less sugar, saving on calories and carbs, notes the ADA.
- Get vaccinated. Diabetes makes you more vulnerable to infection. According to the CDC, illnesses such as the flu, pneumonia and hepatitis B are more common in people with diabetes.
- Know your data. Continuous glucose monitoring is key to managing your diabetes care and help you more quickly address when your body is high or low.
Follow your plan set with your doctor, even when you're feeling good. You might be tempted to skip it. But you probably feel good because your plan is working.
With these simple tips, you'll be in a better position to manage your diabetes every day.