November 2, 2021
Diabetes Management | Living With Diabetes
Are you living with diabetes? We’ll walk you through some healthy lifestyle and routine choices that can help you better manage diabetes.
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Diabetes Management: How Lifestyle, Daily Routine Affect Blood Sugar
For many people diagnosed with diabetes, learning they have this condition can come as an unpleasant surprise. Living with diabetes can be tricky – you’ll need to check your blood sugar regularly, and you might also need to take insulin or other medications. These steps can be both inconvenient and painful.
The good news? The effectiveness of these diabetes treatment methods can be boosted by a few simple changes to your lifestyle. Today, the team at US MED will take a closer look at how minor adjustments to your daily routine can pay off big-time in terms of diabetes management.
Whether you have diabetes or not, eating a nutritious diet can play a crucial role in improving your overall health. While you may believe you need to follow restrictive diets like the keto diet to keep diabetes under control, that’s not necessarily the case. Instead, just follow these steps:
Eat Balanced Meals
If you already follow a healthy diet, living with diabetes doesn’t mean you’ll need to make significant changes. A diabetes-friendly diet includes balanced portions of fruits, vegetables, protein sources, starches, and “good” fats.
Of course, not all foods are equally healthy. When eating with diabetes, a large piece of the puzzle is focusing on nutritious foods that fit into your diet. You’ll be able to work with your healthcare team to create a diabetes diet that works for you.
For people with diabetes, when they eat is almost as important as what they eat. Eating too little in proportion to insulin and other diabetes medications can lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). On the other hand, overeating in proportion to these meds can result in hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
Again, you don’t need to figure out your meal schedule on your own. Your healthcare team will be more than willing to help you determine when you should eat each day.
Carbohydrates play a considerable role in determining your blood glucose levels – and the size of your insulin doses. Because of that, you’ll need to keep track of how many carbs you’re consuming.
Take some time to determine the portion sizes of foods you eat regularly to make this easier for yourself. By doing this, you’ll be able to regulate both your portions and your carbohydrate intake.
Steer Clear Of Excess Sugar
While whole grains have essential health benefits, the same isn’t true for simple or refined sugars. Excess consumption of sugary junk food can wreak havoc on your diet, so avoid these foods whenever possible.
Since they cause blood sugar levels to increase rapidly, sugary drinks like soda and juice are even worse for people with diabetes. However, if you’re dealing with dangerously low blood glucose, controlled portions of these drinks can serve as a quick fix.
Want to learn more about eating well while managing diabetes? We’ve written about this very subject at length – check out our article on the ideal diabetes diet.
When you participate in physical activity, your body uses glucose to supply energy. If you do these activities often enough, they can help you use insulin more effectively, too. Because of this, regular exercise is just as important as eating right when you’re managing diabetes.
After you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, contact your doctor or healthcare team to discuss an exercise plan. You should typically aim for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week at a minimum. To hit this benchmark, focus on getting 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week.
For people who have diabetes, exercise requires some extra planning. Make sure to:
- Create a workout schedule. By working with healthcare professionals, you can develop a schedule that aligns with your plans for food and medication.
- Be aware of your range. If your blood glucose level is out of balance, exercise could do more harm than good.
- Watch blood sugar levels closely. You should check these levels before you exercise, while you exercise, and when you’ve finished exercising. Bring glucose tablets and a small snack with you if your blood glucose gets too low.
Some people with diabetes find that diet and exercise are enough to manage their condition. For those who don’t fall into this category, diabetes medications (including, but not limited to, insulin) can help.
If you do use insulin, be sure to store it correctly. This medication is particularly vulnerable to extreme cold or hot temperatures. Don’t use insulin that is out of date or that you haven’t stored well.
Medications for conditions other than diabetes can impact your blood glucose levels, too. That’s important to remember if you already take other meds or plan to start new medications. Ask your doctor/pharmacist if you are concerned about the effects of medicine on blood sugar or if you experience any problems.
The body deals with sickness by making hormones to help fight diseases off. While this is normal, these hormones can raise your blood sugar level. Along with that, it can be harder to follow your usual diet and exercise schedule while sick.
To handle this, it’s a good idea to put together an alternative plan with your healthcare team that takes illness into account. In this situation, you should continue to take diabetes medication as usual. If you’re nauseous or vomiting, you may need to change your doses of short-acting insulin and other diabetes medications or temporarily stop taking them. You should not discontinue long-acting insulin. If possible, you should also continue to eat as you usually would.
Have you managed to get your diabetes under control? If so, and if your doctor has OK’d it, you can enjoy alcohol on occasion. Some drinks you can safely enjoy are beer (particularly light beer), dry wines, and mixed drinks made with sugar-free mixers.
If you haven’t eaten in a while, be sure to eat something along with your drink! Drinking on an empty stomach comes with a risk of low blood sugar. These effects can be long-lasting, so check your blood sugar before going to bed and correct it accordingly if it’s down.
Menstruation And Menopause
Menstruation is associated with hormonal changes, both during menstruation and the week before. As is the case for other hormonal fluctuations, these changes can affect your blood sugar levels.
An excellent way to deal with this is to record your blood glucose levels over the month and look for any patterns. You can use these patterns to predict future fluctuations and adjust your diabetes treatment plan in response.
Meanwhile, menopause comes with its own symptoms. Some of these symptoms are easy to misidentify as symptoms of low blood sugar. If you may be approaching or experiencing menopause, talk to your doctor about potentially monitoring your blood sugar levels more often.
Hormonal changes can also happen in response to stress. The hormones associated with anxiety can cause blood sugar levels to spike, and stress can also make regular diabetes management routines more challenging to follow.
Keeping an eye out for patterns can also help you deal with the effects of stress on diabetes. Whenever you measure your blood sugar, write down your stress level on a 1-10 scale. If you’re able to determine a pattern, take steps to manage stress. These steps can include avoiding stressors, learning how to relax, or – if necessary – working with a social worker or psychologist.
The diabetes management strategies we’ve talked about up to this point have one thing in common – they all assume you’re not dealing with any other emergencies. However, inclement weather, blackouts, and similar situations can seriously impact your ability to manage your diabetes.
With that in mind, you can mitigate the impact of emergencies by creating a diabetes care kit. These kits should include everything you’ll need to manage diabetes for one or two weeks:
- Medical information such as copies of your prescriptions, your current medication schedule, and a copy of your health insurance card and photo ID
- Insulin, syringes, and any other diabetes medications you take
- An extra blood glucose meter and test strips
- Supplies for insulin pumps
- Glucose tablets (or fast-acting carbs in equivalent amounts)
- Ketone strips
- Glucagon kits
- An empty bottle or sharps container (for safe storage of syringes, lancets, and needles)
- Extra batteries for your insulin pump and glucose meter
- Alcohol wipes
Keep your kit adequately stored so it will be ready to use if and when you need it. Every few months, you should also look at the expiration dates of the included supplies and replace anything that’s nearly expired. (The replaced supplies don’t need to go to waste, as you can use them for your regular care up until they expire.)
Make Diabetes Management Easy With US MED
The thought of building a diabetes management routine can be intimidating. However, a big part of this involves making a few lifestyle changes and thinking ahead. If you can do that, you’ll find it’s much easier to live a healthy life and minimize the impact of diabetes!
Another great way to simplify diabetes management is ordering your supplies from US MED. We’re a highly trusted supplier of diabetes supplies, boasting an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and a 100-percent customer satisfaction guarantee. Take a look at the supplies we sell today!