As people celebrate the holidays and overindulge in food, drinks and put off exercising… Thoughts then turn to making better choices during the year ahead. The start of another year often makes people review their current behaviors and consider various ways to improve them. Consider a few creative and doable New Year resolutions that could help your diabetes management and overall well-being.

1. Visit Your Regular Physician at Least 2 to 4 Times A Year

Talk to your internist, family practitioner or endocrinologist to come up with a plan as to how many yearly visits you will need. Most physician’s like to see you every 3 months for bloodwork including an A1C test but when your diabetes is controlled, and you are not on insulin they may want to see you only every 6 months.

Schedule at least an annual exam with the eye doctor, foot doctor {podiatrist} and bi-annual exams with the dentist. If you produce a lot of plaque you may need to see the dentist every 3 months. Gum disease is prevalent in people with diabetes and may need to be addressed by a periodontist. Make a personal plan with your physician since everyone has individual needs. Write a list of your diabetes medications, the dosages to the medications, what the medications are for, and the time/schedule in which you take them. Follow the schedule to the letter for the best possible results. Always keep a copy in your wallet as well as on your refrigerator in case an EMT is summoned to your home for an emergency. Make sure to get a microalbumin test [urine test] and renal function test [blood test] each year. Get a flu shot early in the fall. Get a pneumonia shot if you are over 65 or if you suffer from asthma or COPD. Make sure you have been vaccinated against hepatitis B and shingles, especially if you are over age 50 or if you have had the chicken pox.

2. Know Your Numbers

Know all your numbers so you can track your diabetes control and other health conditions. Find out what your blood pressure, cholesterol (especially the LDL or bad cholesterol), and diabetes A1C numbers are. Each person may require different levels based on their own condition, but most people with diabetes should have an A1C less than 7% according to the American Diabetes Association and an A1C of 6.5% according to the American College of Endocrinology. Blood pressure should be 130-140/80 according to the American College of Cardiology. LDL levels should be below 100 but preferably at 70.

Stick to the schedule provided by your doctor for checking blood sugar levels with a glucose monitor. The physician should suggest the amount of daily testing depending on your present medications and numbers. Always have enough blood glucose testing supplies and make sure they have not expired. Once opened, strips are good for 3 months. Unopened boxes are good until the box expiration date.

Make a resolution to record the numbers during home testing with either a log book or a computer spread sheet. Always bring the numbers to your doctor visits and report any irregularities to your doctor right away. Know the warning signs of high or low blood sugar and how to respond to them.

Keep glucose tablets available for low sugars and follow with a protein and carbohydrate snack if you are not scheduled for an immediate meal. Take a walk to lower blood sugars that are not above 250mg/dl. Blood sugars above 250mg/dl may go even higher during exercise due to hormones in the body. Report a blood sugar over 200 or below 70 for 2-3 days to your physician.

3. Establish a Good Meal Plan and Stick to it

Establish a well-balanced meal plan with plenty of non-starchy vegetables, lean meats, poultry, fish, low-fat dairy and whole grains. Whole grains should be counted as carbohydrates as well as milk and yogurt and should be eaten in limited portions. Add fruits and starchy vegetables such as corn, winter squash, peas, beans and potatoes. Based on your carbohydrate counting and portion control, starchy vegegtables could raise blood sugars but they also provide fiber and nutrients.

Avoid saturated fats and trans-fats, packaged cakes, cookies, salty snacks and processed meats. Do not drink regular soda or fruit juice even if it says that it is fresh and natural. Limit alcoholic beverages to one drink per day for women and men over 65 and 2 drinks per day for men under 65. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Include calorie free tea and coffee for added flavor and health benefits. Schedule an appointment with a diabetes nurse (CDE) or a dietitian specializing in diabetes to get a complete nutritional program and help you get and stay on the right track. You can have a treat once in awhile – just keep it to special occasions. Try and keep that treat healthy. For example: a square of dark chocolate over 60% cocoa has added health benefits to your vascular system and may staunch that sweets craving.

4. Add Exercise to Your Daily Routine

Include at least 30 minutes of physical activity into your daily routine. A simple start is a walk every day. Walk a little further each day to boost your fitness level. Use an Omron pedometer to determine how far you are walking. Research shows that an hour of daily exercise helps with weight loss while 30 minutes daily helps with weight maintenance and blood sugar reduction. Mix up your exercise routine with tai chi, Zumba, ballet bar, Pilates or yoga classes. Add balance exercises as you age, since balance disappears if not practiced. Work up to standing on one leg at least for 30-60 seconds and practice using both legs to help maintain balance as you age. Be sure to stretch before and after exercise to keep you limber and avoid injuries.

Join a local gym, a YMCA or a community center to keep working out in snowy or hot weather. Invest in one exercise machine like a stationary bike, treadmill or elliptical for variation from the outdoors. Workout with DVDs at home or watch an exercise program on TV or YouTube. Walk the dog or dance to music in the house. Climb the stairs several times a day in your home. Walk at an indoor mall during business hours or check to see if they offer a mall walker’s club prior to business hours. Play games and sports with the kids in your life to stay active. Consider 2 separate 30-minute walks a day – one after breakfast and one after dinner. Add weight resistance training to build muscle and bone density. More muscle mass means higher metabolic rate and burning more calories at rest. Exercise is the best friend of anyone with diabetes since it uses up sugar. Food makes the blood sugar go up and exercise makes it go down, so take advantage of the exercise.

5. Improve Your Hygiene and Habits

Examine your current hygiene and habits to make improvements. Quit smoking in the New Year and do not start if you don’t smoke. Try a patch, hypnosis, biofeedback, a support group or Chantix to help you kick the habit. Smoking increases your risk of heart disease tremendously as does diabetes. Brush with an electric tooth brush, floss your teeth twice daily and use a water-pik which can help reduce the chance of gum disease. Change your tooth brush head at least every 3 months or after a cold, virus or flu. Chew sugarless gum with Xylitol between meals to lower risk of cavities and gum disease. Shower each day with lukewarm water and mild soap. Use a gentle white, fragrance free moisturizer to avoid dry skin.

Check your feet each day for cuts, sores, red spots and blisters. Avoid soaking feet which can increase the risk of fungal infections including Athlete’s foot. Trim nails with a clipper straight across and file for smooth edges; keep nails short. If you have nail fungus or thick, splintering nails, go to a podiatrist for assistance. Wear socks to protect your feet. Consider diabetic socks or a cotton synthetic blend to avoid problems. Always wear shoes including slippers around the house and pool shoes when you are by the water. Wear water-proof shoes for water activities and boots in snow or rain to better protect your feet. Get rid of flip-flops and open shoes that may cause foot problems. Invest in comfortable shoes and diabetic socks for happy and healthy feet.

6. Deal with Stress Immediately

Understand and identify what stress, depression and anxiety feels like to you and take several deep breaths when you start to feel anxious. Learn to say no if you over commit and ask for help from those who love you. Make some “me time” when you start to feel overwhelmed. Get seven or eight hours of sleep each night and avoid drinking beverages with caffeine or alcohol that may make you feel jumpy or keep you from sleeping well. Learn relaxation techniques and schedule recreational activities with other people. If feelings of stress or depression persist for several weeks, schedule an appointment with a counselor or social worker to discuss them.

7. Share Your New Year Resolutions and Goals

This makes it more likely you will follow through on them. It also helps to get the support of your friends, family and business associates. Help others with their New Year resolutions and it is sure to improve your own mood. Partner up with someone to hold you more accountable. Use a journal to track progress and make goals more real. Join relevant support groups to find people in your same situation who want to make change.

The New Year is a perfect time to reassess your behaviors and find ways to improve them. Establish definitive goals and take small steps each day to achieve them. With a bit of effort, you will be amazed at how much better your life will be next year! Happy New Year to all of you!

ADW Diabetes

ADW Diabetes is a diabetic supply mail order company that is dedicated to keeping diabetes management affordable. ADW takes a leading role in offering free diabetic education through Destination Diabetes, an informational component of the ADW website featuring tips and advice from diabetes and nutrition experts, diabetic recipes and more.

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