Welcome to DIY (Do It Yourself) Diabetes with Marci Page Sloane

10 Daily Essentials for a Healthier You

You've probably heard this time and time again - take care of your body, and your body will take care of you. Here are my 10 daily essentials for a healthier you:

  1. Blood sugar testing. Out of control blood sugar can have a damaging affect on your body. It is very important to test your blood sugar at varying times each day to see how your routine (meals, activity, medication, sleep, etc.) affects your blood glucose levels.
  2. Keep a log to know your patterns. Keeping track of your blood sugar results in a logbook or downloading it on your computer allows you (and your doctor or nurse) to see your glucose patterns. Make testing count! Consider tracking your meals, exercise activities, and even your stress levels.
  3. Treat possible low blood sugars with glucose tablets. Always have glucose tablets ready should you experience low blood sugar. You don't want to put yourself in danger with a low blood sugar that can't be treated immediately.
  4. Blood pressure self-monitoring. Controlling blood pressure protects your heart and your kidneys – two possible complications of diabetes. There are affordable and convenient BP monitors which allow you to measure your blood pressure at the best, most convenient times.
  5. Feet TLC. With diabetes, you may lose some feeling in your feet and wounds may heal more slowly. You need to check them each day for cuts or any other kind of wound. To give your feet tender loving care, I recommend that you keep these foot care items handy:
    • Telescopic mirror to examine your feet.
    • Moisturizing foot cream to prevent dryness and cracking. (Look for a medicated foot cream if you are experiencing foot pain.)
    • Sensory test kit that you can self administer to test sensation in your feet.
  6. Watch out for wounds. With diabetes, wounds heal more slowly so be careful and be alert of any cuts, scrapes, blisters, or other wounds that are not healing properly. If so, don't delay, see your doctor!
  7. Teeth TLC. Due to the high blood sugar, there is bacteria overgrowth, tartar and plaque build-up that exceeds what a person without diabetes would produce. A proper Teeth TLC program includes brushing, flossing, rinsing and having check-ups at the dentist and/or periodontist.
  8. Body TLC. Try to weigh yourself daily with a regular scale or a body fat scale. Be active every day – including exercise (if your doctor approves). Think of using a pedometer to count the steps you are taking. Consider using a heart monitor to gauge yourself and make sure you are working your body in your target range. Example: 220 minus your age x 60% (low end) to 85% (maximum heart rate).
  9. Snacking. Keep your blood sugar as even as you can! Try to avoid fluctuating glucose levels by eating every 3-4 hours. If that's difficult, try carrying "diabetes-friendly bars or shakes" like Extend® or Glucerna®. They come in various flavors and taste great!
  10. Be Stress-Less. I love giving this advice. Watch a funny movie. Play a game. Do anything that takes you away from daily stress. Stress may affect your blood sugar and your health in general. Take time for yourself - you're worth it!

Although you don't need to incorporate the following in your daily routine, they are important to taking the best care of YOU!

  • A1c home test. An A1c test measures the Average Blood Glucose (ABG) in the body over the previous 90-120 days.
  • Fresh glucose control solution. Be sure you are using up to date glucose control solution (It expires 3 months after opening).
  • Sick days "care kit." Be ready to take extra special care of yourself with a sick day kit which includes ketone test strips (primarily for Type 1 diabetes), thermometer, sugar free/alcohol free cough syrup and/or cough drops, sugar-free versions of over-the-counter remedies and products, regular and sugar-free soda and Jell-O®, unsweetened applesauce, soup, and crackers.

Marci Sloane, MS, RD, LD/N, CDE, is a registered and licensed dietitian/nutritionist and certified diabetes educator with a degree in Nutrition and Physiology from Teachers College at Columbia University. Marci is the author of The Diet Game: Playing for Life! More about Marci Sloane

The goal of Destination Diabetes is to be a useful and credible resource for the more than 20 million children and adults who have diabetes in the U.S. and their families. Destination Diabetes provides information on a wide range of diabetes health and wellness topics. Articles are written or reviewed by diabetes advisors who have experience in diabetes education.