Managing diabetes is a marathon, not a sprint. But if you’ve recently been diagnosed with this condition, you may not even know how to find the starting line! The advice below can help you begin to live your best life with diabetes.
Diet and exercise
Q: Is eating breakfast really that important?
A: When you wake up, your blood sugar may be off. Eating a good breakfast can help bring it back in line. You should start your day with a good mix of protein (eggs, Greek yogurt, or lean ham) and healthy carbohydrates, such as whole-wheat toast or oatmeal.
Q: Is it OK to eat simple carbs like white bread and rice?
A: You should make the switch from simple—or refined—carbs to whole-grain options. Whole-grain foods are higher in fiber, they take longer to digest, and they can help maintain your blood sugar.
Q: Can I still have snacks?
A: Yes—as long as you snack smart! Skip potato chips and choose nuts (just a handful!) for your afternoon snack. Nuts are low in carbs and are packed with healthy fats. They will curb your cravings and keep you feeling full.
Q: What about drinks? What would be best for me?
A: You should skip soda. Regular soda is packed with sugar, and diet drinks will make you crave sugar. Stick with refreshing water. It will keep you hydrated and help you control your appetite.
Q: I know physical activity is important, but what can I do?*
A: Start walking! Exercise can help you control your blood sugar, manage your weight, and improve your mood. Start with a five-minute walk and see how much better you feel.
*Talk with your doctor before starting or increasing any exercise program. Your doctor may advise you to try certain exercises or avoid others.
Q: How often do I need to check my blood sugar?
A: You need to test this as often as your doctor recommends. Most people take the first test soon after they wake up and before they eat. If they have to take a second test, they do it two hours after their biggest meal.
Q: What is a hemoglobin A1c test?
A: This test will provide an average of your blood sugar level over two to three months. It is the best indicator of how you’re managing your diabetes. Your doctor will order this test for you.
Q: Are there any other tests or exams I should have?
A: Make sure you get eye and foot exams, as well as blood/urine tests for kidney failure (when appropriate). Don’t delay having these tests because you think you’re fine—stick with the schedule your doctor recommends.
Q: My blood sugar readings have been all over the place. What am I doing wrong?
A: If you’ve changed your diet but your blood sugar is still an issue, begin to track your carbohydrates very carefully. You may find that you’re eating more carbs than you thought.
In addition, remember that nobody’s perfect. Instead of beating yourself up about a high blood sugar reading, focus on what you can do now. Go for a walk, drink a glass of water, or cut up veggies so you have healthy snacks to enjoy in the coming days.
Managing diabetes can be frustrating, and it may take time to determine the best treatment for you. Start with small steps—learning to control your blood sugar, being more active—and talk to your provider if you feel you need help.
You’ve got this!