Diabetes is a chronic disease and it is essential to closely follow your diabetes self-management plan. Taking proper care of yourself is worth the effort because it can reduce your risk of developing other health conditions and complications. Consider 5 easy resolutions that can reduce diabetes complications and improve the quality of your life.
- Become dedicated to managing your diabetes. Discuss diabetes self-management with your doctor, diabetes nurse educator and dietitian. Follow the advice of your diabetes care team. Learn about diabetes and ask for help when you need it. Maintain a healthy weight by eating whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruit, vegetables and lean meat and fish. Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Monitor your blood sugar levels regularly with the use of a blood glucose meter. Follow your doctor’s instructions for keeping your blood sugar within your target range including proper administration of insulin and medications. Schedule regular diabetes checkups. Talk to your doctor about getting vaccinations such as a flu vaccine, pneumonia vaccine, tetanus shot and hepatitis B vaccine.
- Get rid of unhealthy habits. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit. Smoking can increase your risk of diabetes related complications such as a heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and nerve damage. Limit your intake of alcoholic beverages and always drink responsibly. If you are overweight, losing just 5 to 10 percent of your overall body weight can make a big difference.
- Control your cholesterol and blood pressure. People with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing high cholesterol and heart disease. Stay away from processed foods that are high in fat, sodium and sugar. Take medications correctly as prescribed by your doctor. Talk to your doctor to find out if taking a daily aspirin could help reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Pay attention to other parts of your body such as your eyes, teeth and feet. Diabetes can make you more prone to eye problems including glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts. Schedule an eye exam at least once a year. People with diabetes are also more prone to gum infections. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss daily and visit a dentist at least twice a year. High blood sugar can damage the nerves in your feet and reduce blood flow. Untreated cuts and blisters can lead to serious infections. Prevent food problems by taking proper care of your feet. Wash them daily with lukewarm water and dry them gently including the areas between your toes. Use a special foot cream on your feet and avoid the area between your toes. Check your feet each day for redness, soreness, open wounds, blisters, cuts or swelling. If you have any problems, consult with your doctor or podiatrist immediately.
- Reduce stress and get sleep. Stress and a lack of sleep can cause you to neglect your diabetes care routine. Prolonged stress can lead your body to produce hormones that may prevent insulin from working properly. Learn how to minimize stress by prioritizing tasks and getting plenty of sleep each night. Consider relaxation techniques such as yoga, tai chi and meditation. If stress becomes overwhelming, talk to your doctor about seeing a counselor to discuss your issues.
These simple resolutions can help reduce diabetes complications and improve your overall well-being. Discuss diabetes self-management with your doctor to find out more way to boost your health. With a bit of extra care and attention, you can feel great and ward off further health problems.