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Diabetes Health Center

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5 Tips to Get Your Diabetes Under Control

By Amanda Gardner
WebMD Feature

Controlling your diabetes is a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly challenge, but the effort is worth it. Right away you'll feel better and have more energy.The payoff? You'll live better longer with less risk of problems from diabetes like heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, even blindness.

The key to managing your diabetes is to keep your blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible. It sounds tough, but there are simple steps you can follow.

Recommended Related to Diabetes

Diabetes Care: Managing Your Time When You Have Diabetes

Sometimes, living with diabetes can seem like a full-time job -- trying to keep up with everything you need to do for proper diabetes care. "Diabetes is a very time-consuming disease to manage well," says Karmeen Kulkarni, MS, RD, CDE, and former president of health care and education for the American Diabetes Association. "The medication, the food, the physical activity -- you add life in general to that whole picture and it ends up being quite challenging."

Read the Diabetes Care: Managing Your Time When You Have Diabetes article > >

Spot Check Your Sugar

You and your doctor will have set a schedule to test your blood sugar. In Add an extra check on top. Maybe at breakfast one day, lunch the next, and so on. It's like popping in unannounced.

"If you're a supervisor and your workers know that you're only going to come once a day to check on them, chances are they're going to be well-behaved during that particular time and the rest of the day you're going to be doing other things," says Sethu Reddy, MD, chief of the adult diabetes section at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. "If you spot check, you have a much better sense of how things are going."

Use that information to adjust your eating and exercise to gain even better control if you need to.

Count Carbs

They can quickly send your blood sugar on a roller-coaster ride. That's why it's so important to keep track.

Most women need 35-45 grams of carbs per meal while guys need 45-60 grams, says Jessica Crandall, a dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A cup of rice or pasta is about 45 grams.

To make the most of them, pair your carbs with a protein, like nuts. Opt for high-fiber carbs. Both will slow digestion so you feel full without raising blood sugar.

"Fiber is really important for blood-sugar control, but it's also a Roto-Rooter to clear out cholesterol building in blood vessels," Crandall says.

Good sources of fiber and carbs include whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and dried beans.

Be wary of "no-sugar" products. That doesn't always mean no carbs. Foods that have "sugar alcohols" -- things that usually end in "ol" like xylitol and mannitol -- do contain carbs. 

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