Here are some approaches you can start now
If you have diabetes, there are a number of strategies you can use to stay healthy and help prevent or delay complications. Read on to learn 7 ways you may be able to avoid diabetes complications, along with some strategies you can use to meet with success!
1. Keep your blood sugar under control
- Make sure you know your blood sugar targets: talk to your diabetes healthcare team about what your pre- and post-meal targets should be.
- For the next week, check your blood sugar before and after meals. This will help you see if there are any patterns of highs or lows that you should address with your diabetes healthcare team.
- Set up a phone reminder every 3 to 6 months to book a lab test and have your A1C.
2. Eat healthy foods
- Add a new vegetable or fruit to your meal plan this week. For fun, try something different, such as kale, Swiss chard, pomegranate or kiwi.
- Make a healthier food swap this week – for example, choose whole grain pasta instead of white pasta, or low-fat milk instead of whole milk.
- Prepare some veggies for a quick snack – you can store carrot and celery sticks, submerged in water, in a covered container in your refrigerator for 3 or 4 days. Remember to change out the water every few days.
3. Exercise regularly
- If possible, exercise at the start of the day. This will keep you energized throughout the day and it will be one less thing to check off your ‘to do’ list!
- Find a friend or family member who is interested in the same activity routines that you enjoy – you can motivate each other by exercising together.
- Take a meeting on your cell while you walk (even around your house if you are working virtually). This will prevent you from being too sedentary if you work at a desk job.
4. Take your diabetes medications exactly as prescribed
- Set a phone or email reminder to ensure that you take your medications as directed at the same time every day.
- Make your medication regimen part of your daily routine. For example, if a medication is taken early each day, keep it beside your toothbrush. If the medication is taken before bedtime, leave it on your nightstand.
5. Have a regular diabetes checkup
- People with diabetes should have a number of regular tests to measure such things as kidney function, heart health and eye health. Some tests should be done every 3 or 6 months, while others are yearly or every few years. Set up a phone or email reminder to ensure that you don’t miss any of your regularly scheduled health checks.
- Keep track of all your diabetes health check results, so you can see if any changes occur over time. Use this handy downloadable monitoring record to track your test results. This way you will see if any changes have occurred over time and address them with your diabetes healthcare team.
6. Be heart healthy – control blood pressure and cholesterol
- Salt can increase your blood pressure, so try cutting salt from a few of your meal preparations this week. Season your food with a variety of flavourful herbs and spices.
- Reduce your consumption of saturated fats, which raise cholesterol levels. Choose heart-healthy fish (e.g. salmon, cod, trout) as an entrée 2 times this week instead of red meat or pork, which contain high levels of saturated fat.
- Know the signs of heart disease. The common signs are chest pain and shortness of breath; less common signs include pain in the jaw, shoulder or abdomen, and nausea and dizziness.
7. Quit smoking
- Make a plan with an expert and set a date to quit. Put it in writing. This will help you focus on your goal.
- Surround yourself with support: do you have a friend or relative who would also like to quit? If so, you can support each other in your efforts.
- Strengthen your willpower by limiting or skipping situations or triggers you associate with smoking. For example, if you tend to have a cigarette after a meal leave the table immediately after eating.
There are plenty of ways people with diabetes can prevent or delay complications. Use these 7 handy tips as part of your daily diabetes management routine to help keep you on track.