About 37.3 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes in the United States. If you count yourself among them, you probably remember the day your doctor delivered the diagnosis. Maybe your first thought was about your friend’s diabetic uncle who had his leg amputated, or the countless other things you’ve heard over the years about complications often associated with diabetes.
While it’s completely natural to ask “Why me?” and “Now what?,” keep in mind that just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean you’re destined to suffer a serious medical complication from the condition. Although at first blush it may not seem that way, you have more control then you think when it comes to how your diagnosis will affect your overall health.
In this blog, the skilled team of health professionals at Formé Medical Center in White Plains, New York, give you the lowdown on the seven ways you can manage your diabetes and improve your overall health to boot.
1. Manage your blood sugar
While having diabetes isn’t a death sentence, it shouldn’t be treated lightly either. Take your diagnosis seriously. Work with your doctor to better understand your condition. Then follow doctor’s orders and do everything in your power to get your glucose levels under control and keep them that way.
2. Eat healthy, balanced meals
A great first step to managing your blood sugar is eating healthy. Eating balanced, properly portioned meals is important whether you have diabetes or not. However, eating healthy and watching what you eat becomes increasingly important when you’re diabetic.
Watch your carbohydrate intake, since they impact glucose levels quicker than protein or fat. Fiber-rich foods like beans and berries can be an asset to lowering blood glucose. Ditch the processed foods loaded with sugar and carbs, and add in a nice mix of whole grains, vegetables, and fruit.
Your doctor guides you on how to make healthy food choices that not only help you manage your diabetes, but also enhance your overall health.
3. Get moving and stay active
You’ll learn early on that many of the tactics that help you manage your diabetes are related to each other, so their impacts can build on one another as well. For instance, while you’re eating healthier, if you get moving and stay active, your body will actually use insulin more efficiently.
Keep in mind that no one is asking you to run a marathon. Start from where you are and make small changes. If you typically don’t exercise at all, start by taking short walks every day. Your doctor and health care providers can make recommendations to get you started.
4. Maintain a healthy weight
Guess what? Once you get in the habit of eating healthier and exercising regularly, chances are you’ll shed a little weight as well. Maintaining a healthy weight has two important benefits when you’re diabetic — it makes it easier to control your blood sugar, and it lowers your risk of developing life-threatening complications like a stroke or heart disease.
5. Know your numbers
Treating diabetes and improving your health is also about understanding the various metrics or indicators that can shed light on how your diabetes may be affecting your body. Become familiar with your cholesterol levels and blood pressure. These diagnostics can tell you if you’re at a higher risk for heart disease.
Don’t forget your A1C, which measures your blood sugar level over a period of three months. If you have high blood pressure or if your cholesterol or A1C are out of normal range, work with your doctor to bring them under control.
6. Kick bad habits to the curb
Smoking tobacco and drinking excessively aren’t good habits for anyone, but they can be particularly dangerous for diabetics. Not only can nicotine tinker with how insulin metabolizes in your body, but it can also affect circulation, increasing your risk for foot infections or ulcers as well as nerve damage throughout your body.
Similarly, excessive alcohol can cause your blood sugar to fluctuate, making it harder to control your diabetes.
7. Reach out for support
Living with diabetes may seem overwhelming, but you don’t have to go it alone. Our medical team includes cardiologists who manage heart and blood vessel health and podiatrists who provide diabetic foot care. We provide the medical services and support that will keep you on track and healthy for years to come.
If you have diabetes and want to learn more about our comprehensive diabetes care, contact Formé Medical Center. Call our office or request an appointment online today.