The New Year gives you another opportunity to reassess your diabetes self-management plan and make improvements. The goal is to be happy and healthy throughout the year ahead. Consider these 4 awesome tips to make this your best year ever with diabetes.
- Goals should be realistic, measurable and time-specific. The first tip relates to your overall health care. Commit to seeing your physician as often as needed and book your appointments ahead of time. Verify your schedule for taking diabetes medications and checking blood glucose levels. Know the warning signs of high or low blood sugars and what do about them. Keep your numbers controlled including cholesterol, blood pressure and A1C. Schedule a yearly eye exam and visit your dentist at least twice a year or as needed. Make appointments with other members of your health care team, including a podiatrist, dietitian and diabetes nurse educator. Plan to get a flu shot in the fall to help ward off winter illnesses.
- Have a personal management plan for each day. Check your blood sugar daily and take your medications. If your schedule changes, update your glucose monitoring and medication timing. Check with your doctor if you have any questions. Bathe with lukewarm water and soap daily. Gently wash and dry your feet and check for irregularities such as sores or cuts. Clip your toenails straight across each week or visit a podiatrist to care for your feet if you can’t do it yourself. Brush and floss your teeth in the morning and evening. Maintain a journal to monitor your health care activities, meals, glucose levels and physical activity. Periodically review your journal with your health care team to see where you can make improvements. Keep plenty of diabetes supplies on-hand so you are prepared for anything.
- Create a meal plan that works for you. Include lean meat and fish, vegetables and fruit, low fat dairy and whole grains. Minimize your intake of sugar, sodium and saturated fats. Include healthy or unsaturated fats in your diet including canola oil, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds in small amounts. Keep portion control in mind with more vegetables on your plate than grains, meat and dairy. Avoid fattening desserts and have fruit instead. Eliminate or limit your alcohol intake. Quit smoking for better cardiovascular health.
- Fit exercise into your routine at least 5 times a week. Exercise for at least a half hour a day. Make exercise fun, so you look forward to moving each day. Go for a walk at your local park or play backyard sports with your kids. Take the dog for a daily stroll or meet a friend to workout at the gym. On rainy days, put in an exercise DVD and get your groove on in the living room. Invest in exercise equipment to encourage you to exercise whenever you can. Consider buying weights and aerobic equipment to get started. Include aerobics, stretching and strengthening exercises in your overall fitness plan. Mix it up with yoga, tai chi, Zumba and other types of exercise. If you have access, find out about Silver Sneakers. Take the stairs instead of the elevator and park further away from the grocery store to fit more movement into your day.
Use these tips to stay motivated throughout the year and make updates as necessary. Remember you won’t achieve your goals in just a day or week; it takes time to notice a difference. Be flexible and always recognize your accomplishments along the way.