11 Habits to Learn Now For Easier Daily Diabetes Management
Diabetes Management can be a hassle, especially in minding everything that you eat
But if you build a habit, it can be very easy.
If you get the hang of it, life will be better for you.
Here are 10 things you need to learn and start a habit to easily manage diabetes:
1. Always Eat in Recommended Portion
Use smaller plates or bowls to keep you reminded of your enough portions. Even with fruits and veggies must be portioned, roughly the same size as your palm, at least 5 portions a day.
It is important to watch your portions, overloading can spell trouble. The best way to remind you with portion is to have a size comparison to ordinary common things.
Balanced diet is important to give your body adequate nutrients throughout your body.
Dairy foods - These food groups are rich in calcium for strong bones and teeth.
Meat, Fish, Eggs - Protein rich foods are important in building and replacing muscles.
Fruits - Important vitamins, minerals and fiber to help protect you against stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease, and certain cancers.
Vegetables - They are importance source of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
High fats and sugar - Enjoy foods from this food group to treat yourself occasionally. They will add extra calories so it is best to keep it low.
Although they are nutritious, but they may contain glucose or can spike your blood sugar, therefore it is important to eat in portions.
2. Break a Sweat
Get up and Exercise, take a walk, jog, run, swim, or go biking at least 30 minutes per day. If you don’t have enough time for exercise, try to download the 7 minute workout app.
Regular exercise can slow the progression of diabetes and make it easier to manage. When you exercise, you lower your blood sugar naturally because your muscles absorb blood sugar for fuel when you exercise nearly twenty times the normal rate.
You can check with your doctor for an exercise plan, and always check your numbers before and after every exercise, especially when you are taking insulin or medication to lower blood sugar.
Make sure to hydrate yourself when doing exercise, because dehydration will affect your blood sugar level.
Exercise has many benefits which helps makes managing your diabetes easier:
Improves Insulin sensitivity - Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose to enter your cells. Exercise can make your insulin receptors more sensitive and make your cell absorb glucose from your bloodstream to create energy.
This means, that exercise is important to keep you energized. The more you keep yourself sedentary, the weaker you get. It could raise your risk, like high cholesterol level, and could lead to heart disease.
- Strengthens your bones - The risk of falling is high if you are diabetic, especially in old age. Not getting enough calcium and vitamin D will weaken your bones and increase your risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
Uncontrolled diabetes negatively affects your body’s ability to absorb the calcium and vitamin D. Exercise also helps you lose weight to lessen the extra stress on your bones and joints.
Exercises like running, walking, strength training, weight lifting, yoga, or resistance training, makes your bones stronger.
A research from Old Dominion University, concluded that six-week exercise program and strength training can lower the risk of injury due to falls among older people with diabetes.
- Improves nerve problems - One common side effect of type 2 diabetes is Nephropathy. This brings numbness, burning, tingling, or pain that affects your arms, legs, hands and feet. Exercise improves blood circulation and coordination, which lowers the risk of falls and reduce nerve damage.
A study of nearly 150 adult participants with diabetes and peripheral nephropathy for six months, concluded that half of the participants who enrolled in the walking program, significantly improve with their diabetes and nephropathy condition, compared to half of the participants that did not improve their physical activity.
Lowers your Blood pressure and Cholesterol level - Exercise is one of the best ways to lose weight and lower your cholesterol level. Public health organization recommends at least 30 minutes per day of exercise, such as walking, jogging, biking, or swimming.
- Reduces Stress - Endorphins are released when you exercise, these are hormones that make you feel better emotionally and physically.
A 16 week study of Hispanic men with type 2 diabetes who took part in strength training, saw improvements in their glucose control which is as good as expected from taking diabetes medication. They also gained muscle, lose weight, and happier and confident with themselves.
3. Always Hydrate
Set a reminder to drink water every hour to hydrate your cells. One symptom of having diabetes is the increase of thirst and dry mouth. High blood sugar causes your body to lose fluid and dry your mouth and skin. By keeping yourself hydrated, this keeps you stay supple and healthy.
4.Always Be Prepared
In some cases, diet and exercise may not be enough to manage your diabetes. You always have to be ready with your insulin or diabetes medication prescribed by your doctor.
I guess your doctor will explain to you that the effectiveness of these medications depends on the timing and size of the dose. Improperly stored or expired insulin may not be effective. Insulin is sensitive to extreme temperatures.
- Always take your medication as prescribed by your doctor even when you are feeling good or even you have reached your blood glucose, cholesterol or blood pressure level goals.
- Update your doctor if you notice that your medication causes your blood sugar to drop too low or too high
- Always ask your doctor about new medications or over-the-counter medication - Some medication can spike up your blood sugar levels. Liquid medications may be sweetened with sugar to cover the bitter taste.
- Always have a small snack or sugar tablets in your bag in case your glucose level drops too low. Keep an identification bracelet or card especially when you are exercising, just in case.
5. Say No To Sugar-filled Drinks
very sweet to the taste, but the amount of sugar is more than you expected. Sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and some fruit juice have 44% added sugar in it. You may have just consumed a glass, but it is enough to spike up your blood sugar level.
Your body does not recognize calories from drinks in the same way that it
recognized calories from food. The drink does not make you feel full, which makes you to consume more.
If you are bored with the taste of water, here are low-sugar options:
- Lemon water
- Water with mint and cucumber
- Unsweetened Coffee
- Fresh squeezed fruit juice
6. Quit Smoking
Smoking and diabetes can narrow your blood vessels, with a narrow blood vessel, it makes your heart work harder. Starting a smoke free life can be easier for you to manage your diabetes and start a healthy life.
Quitting the habit of smoking has a lot more benefit to you than the giving in to the urge to smoke.
- It will lower your risk of heart attack, nerve disease, stroke,kidney disease, diabetic eye disease, or worse - amputation.
- Quitting will improve your blood circulation
- Breathing becomes easier
- Improve your blood pressure level and cholesterol level
7. Take time to Relax
Give yourself a break, if quitting your stressful job is too much. You can do some stress relieving routines like deep breathing, a dip in the bathtub, or a nice body massage. You can also take a day off and spend some time in the outdoors. Nature has a good way to relieve your stress and promote calmness.
Long term and consistent stress can elevate your cortisol and produce glucose and increase your blood sugar levels. Stress triggers your the release of cortisol hormones, which provides your body with glucose by tapping into the protein stored through gluconeogenesis in the liver.
8. Gum Care
Brush your teeth at least 2-3 times daily or make it a habit to do oil pulling or cleaning your mouth with baking soda and salt to rinse your mouth with bacteria. Visit your dentist regularly to have your gums and teeth checked.
People with diabetes are more prone to have gum disease because of the poor blood glucose control. Just like other infections, gum disease may cause blood sugar to rise, which makes the blood sugar level harder to control being susceptible to infection and lesser ability to fight bacteria that invades your gums. 
9. Boost with Cs
Include Vitamin C to your daily medication routines this helps your immunity and gives you more energy to your body. You can get Vitamin C from fruits, but they have natural sugar that may spike your sugar level, so either you can go on green leafy veggies or you can take a tablet of Vitamin C.
A study conducted at Deakin University has found that taking 500 milligrams of Vitamin C twice a day helped those with type 2 diabetes by lowering elevated blood glucose levels across the day and minimizing spikes in blood sugar after eating.
Boosting on vitamin C will also lower your blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes, which suggest that it can improve heart health as well. 
10. Sleep Tight
Get cozy with your bed and get a good night sleep at least 7-8 hours. If you can’t get a longer sleep, try to get a more quality sleep. Getting enough Zz’s can improve your mood and energy level. Studies show that the more quality of sleep you can have, the more your insulin level will be stable.
If you are often feeling sleepy during the day, you have been suffering from sleep apnea, which is a condition that your breathing briefly stops a few times during your sleep and disrupts the quality of your sleep.
Monitor your sleep with a sleep tracker smartwatch so you’ll know how to manage your sleep.
Create a good habit to increase the odds of sleeping longer or deeper by practicing a good sleep hygiene.
- Turn off all the lights in your bedroom
- Avoid Screens like your TV or Smartphones at least an hour before sleeping.
- Don’t drink caffeinated drinks 3-4 hours before sleeping
- Avoid heavy meals in the evening
- Avoid alcohol - it may help you sleep, but when it wears out, it disrupts your sleep.
- Get a comfortable and clean pillow and mattress.
- Have yourself checked regularly
Mark your calendar and yourself checked your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Knowing your numbers will help you manage your diabetes.
A1C test - This shows your average blood sugar level over the past 3 months. People with diabetes aim for a below 7 percent reading, you should ask for your health care team what your own personalized goal.
Blood Pressure - Normal blood pressure should be below 140/90 mm Hg. Have yourself checked, or do a self check so you’ll know if you need to lower this number or maintain it.
Cholesterol Level - We have two kinds of cholesterol, LDL is the bad cholesterol, and HDL as the good one. Too much of the bad cholesterol can build up and clog your blood vessels and can cause heart attack or stroke.
On the other hand, the HDL or the good cholesterol will help remove your LDL. Have your Health care team about your numbers to manage them properly.
Foot check up - If you notice problems, see your doctor or a foot specialist (a podiatrist). People with diabetes are at risk for diabetic neuropathy, a loss-of-pain sensation in their feet. The pain comes from damage to the nerves caused by diabetes. See your doctor at least twice a year for foot check up.
Have a Diabetes Record Sheet
Regularly visit your health care team to get checked and recommendations. Have a record sheet so your doctor will be able to track your history for reference
You can either create and excel sheet and fill it out with the specific name of the test you need to take, the date of the test and the result. You can input your results digitally or your can print it out.
If you are doing a self check of your blood sugar level with a home kit, write down the result, date and time you did the test on your record sheet. You can show this record to your health care team during your visits and talk about your sugar level goals and seek recommendations.
Sugar level goals vary by age, adults have different sugar level goals, and older people have different sugar level goals especially when you have diabetes for a long time.
Build your Healthcare Life Team
Diabetes is not only about your blood glucose level, but it is a whole body concern and it is best to be treated by a team of health care experts.
It is a complex disease and your doctor can’t do it alone. Your team does not only include your medical team, but also your family and friends for support and motivation.
You Health Care team should include:
- A nurse
- Dietitian / Nutritionist
- Eye doctor
- Social worker
- Mental health worker / C
Why is Diabetes Management important?
Diabetes is a complex condition and it may be a little complex to handle. Unlike other disease like hypertension and cholesterol that can be treated by medication alone most of the time. Diabetes affects many parts of our body and complicates most of our major parts. This includes the eyes, nerves, heart, and blood vessels.
Self management can improve or delay the progression of the complications associated with diabetes. Management does not only limit to adequate control of glucose level in the blood, but also maintaining the normal and healthy flow and nutrition of the human body.
Patients that are doing self-management have better improvement in their glycemic control, reducing complication and improves their quality of life.
Understanding Your Condition
Having diabetes disease makes your body unable to properly use and store glucose in a form of sugar. Glucose enters your bloodstream and may cause to rise your blood sugar level too high and can cause complications.
Symptoms that are frequently experienced if you have diabetes:
- Very thirsty
- Weight loss
- Frequent urination
- Increase in hunger / appetite
- Blurry vision
- Tingling of hands and feet
- Frequent skin, bladder, or gum infection
- Wounds that don’t heal
- Extreme unexplained fatigue
Some few cases there are no symptoms, usually people with type 2 diabetes can love for months without noticing any noticeable symptoms of the disease.
Types of Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes
Believed to be an autoimmune condition - your immune system wrongfully attacks and destroys the beta cells in your pancreas that produce insulin. The cause of the attack is not yet clear, it may be genetic or environmental causes.
Type 2 diabetes
It begins with insulin resistance - your body can’t use insulin efficiently. It stimulates your pancreas to produce insulin until it can no longer keep up with demand. Insulin production decreases, and spikes up your blood sugar.
The exact cause is yet unknown but the following may be the contributing factors of type 2 diabetes:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Lack of exercise
- Being overweight for a long time
Gestational diabetes: Sometimes during pregnancy the body becomes less sensitive to insulin, usually recovers after giving birth. It does not usually cause any symptoms, mostly it can be detected when your blood sugar is tested.
What are the ideal levels of blood sugar?
Blood sugar level charts are used by doctors to set target goals and monitor diabetes treatment plans. It can help you assess and monitor your blood sugar test results.
Diabetes treatment plans mostly involved in maintaining blood sugar levels as close to normal target goals. This requires your doctor-ordered testing along with an understanding of how the results compare to the target levels.
The chart will help you interpret and assess the results on your blood sugar test. It outlines what is normal and abnormal blood sugar level for those with and without diabetes.
In the United States, blood sugar charts usually report sugar levels in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). In the United Kingdom and other countries, blood sugar is reported in millimoles per liter (mmol/L).
An A1C test measures the average sugar levels over a 3-month period, which gives a bigger insight into a person's overall management of their blood glucose levels.
The right blood sugar levels vary throughout the day and from person to person.
Blood sugars level are often lowest before breakfast and in the lead up to meals. Blood sugars are often highest in the hours of lunch and dinner.
Diabetes patients will often have higher blood sugar targets or acceptable ranges than those without the condition.
The American Diabetes Association , Joslin Diabetes Center, and American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists also offer slightly different blood sugar guidelines for those with diabetes. 
Sugar Level Test Interpretation
Interpreting blood sugar level meter readings depends on individual norm and targets.
A good blood sugar level for one person may be very high or low for others. However, for people with diabetes, some ranges of blood sugar levels are preferable over others.
Certain forms of temporary diabetes, such as gestational diabetes, also have separate blood sugar recommendations. 
Anyone who has very high or low fasting blood sugar levels should be concerned.
As long as levels aren't critically dangerous, there are ways to reduce blood sugar levels when readings are too high.
How frequent blood sugar tests varies between individual treatment plans, as well as the type or stage of diabetes:
Type 1 (adult): At least 2-10 times daily, Tests should be performed before breakfast, at fasting, before meals, sometimes 2 hours after meals, before and after physical activities, and at bedtime.
Type 1 (child): At least 4 times daily, tests should be performed before meals and at bedtime. Tests may also be required 1-2 hrs after meals, before and after an exercise, and overnight.
Type 2 (on insulin or other management medications): Testing depends on insulin dosage and use of additional medications. Those who are under intensive insulin should do tests at fasting, before meals, before bedtime, and sometimes overnight.
Those on insulin and additional medications should at least do a tests at fasting and bedtime. Those on basal insulin and one daily premixed insulin injection should perform tests when fasting, before premixed dosages and meals, and sometimes overnight.
Those not on insulin but oral medications or diet control require much less frequent blood sugar testing at home.
Type 2 (low risk of low blood sugar): Daily test are often not required. Doing the tests at mealtimes and bedtime should reflect the real-time impact of lifestyle changes.
If blood sugar goals or A1C levels are not being met, the number of testing should increase until levels are back within normal ranges.
- Gestational: Those on insulin should do tests at fasting, before meals and 1 hour after meals. Those who are not on insulin should perform tests at fasting and 1 hour after meals.
Blood sugar testing should be increased during periods of physical and emotional stress, such as pregnancy, acute illness, or depression.
Continuous glucose monitors (CMGs) can be be installed for those who have difficulty managing blood sugar meters or blood sugars. CMGs consist of a sensor placed under the skin that measures the amount of sugar in tissue. These are can be purchased at amazon.
Why being overweight is bad for diabetes?
Obesity or being overweight can increase the chance to develop type 2 diabetes. Being overweight stresses the inside of the cells.
Overeating can stress the membranous network of cells called endoplasmic reticulum. This leads to insulin resistance and to persistently high concentration of the glucose in the blood. 
Diabetes and Fasting
A study revealed that intermittent fasting showed a great improvement on three men aged 40-67 years old who are taking drugs and daily doses of insulin to manage diabetes. Other than diabetes, they have high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
For the study, they were instructed to do fasting for 24 hours every other day. During their fasting they are allowed to drink low-calorie beverages like water, coffee and tea. They were also allowed a low calorie meal in the evening. The test lasted for 10 months.The three men stuck with their fasting without difficulty
The result showed significant improvement on three participants. All three lost weight, blood sugar was lower, and they were able to get through their day without insulin after a month of fasting.
Although the study was limited and performed to three persons only but they are encouraging it. The authors say that this intermittent fasting may significantly reverse or eliminate the need for diabetic medication. 
Menstruation and menopause
Fluctuation in Blood sugar levels can be caused by the changes in hormone levels. Few years before and during menopause, hormones changes may affect unpredictably on blood sugar which may complicate in managing your diabetes.
What to do:
- Frequent blood sugar check - If you are near your menopause or currently experiencing menopause, track your blood sugar at least twice more often for more detailed profile of the fluctuation of your blood sugar level.
- Keep track and Look for Pattern - You may be able to predict fluctuations related to your menstrual cycle.
- Seek Doctor recommendation on changes to your diabetes treatments - Show your personal records on your self test to your doctor for recommendation on your medication, activity level, to make up with the blood sugar variation.
Birth controls in most forms can be used by women with diabetes without any problem. Although some oral contraceptives can raise blood sugar levels in some women.
Why is foot care important?
Foot amputation is one major complications if you have diabetes. Your doctor most likely to recommend that you check your feet each day. Having diabetes can lead to peripheral artery disease, which may also cause to nerve damage called peripheral nephropathy, this will prevent you from feeling the pain in your feet.
Checking your foot for wounds or cuts is necessary as you might not notice it because you are unable to feel pain. If left unnoticed, it can be infected, while having diabetes, wounds heal slowly or sometimes it won’t, which leads to more complication and will require amputation.
It only takes a few minutes a day to check your feet and avoid complications. Make sure to check your foot in the morning and evening as part of your daily routine.
While checking your foot, check if you have any of these foot conditions, contact your doctor for an evaluation:
- fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot
- ingrown toenails
- plantar warts
- dry skin
- heel pain or heel spurs
Always keep your feet safe and healthy as possible with these tips:
- Wash your feet every day and dry them thoroughly. Apply a light coating of petroleum jelly to help prevent skin drying and cracking.
- Never remove calluses, bunions, corns, or warts by yourself. Seek assistance from a podiatrist or from your doctor.
- Cut your toenails straight across, and try not to cut them too short.
- Never go barefoot indoors or outdoors.
- If you have a hard time finding comfortable shoes that fit comfortably, talk to your doctor about prescription diabetic shoes.
- Opt for closed-toe shoes.
- Don’t wear shoes with pointy toes.
- Don’t soak your feet.
- Moisture between the toes may lead to infection, so try applying cornstarch between your toes to keep the skin dry.
Amputation doesn’t have to happen if you do everything to manage your blood sugar and care for your feet to reduce the risk of major complications.
Adopting a good habit makes diabetes management easier, it may be an effort at first, but as you are able to get the hang of it, it will become a normal part of your day. By doing this, you are giving yourself a great favor to avoid worsening your current condition and may reverse your condition. It is always best to bring up everything that you do with your doctor so you can get a good advice in what to do and what to avoid.