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6 Diabetes Mistakes -- and How to Avoid Them

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Managing type 2 diabetes requires constant vigilance to keep your blood sugar level under control. Staying healthy also means steering clear of some common pitfalls, many of which are the product of long-held bad habits. Here are six mistakes that you can learn to avoid.

Mistake #1: Not Taking Control of Your Condition

“You are your own doctor 99.9% of the time,” says Andrew Ahmann, MD, director of the Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Health Center at Oregon Health & Science University.

You’re the one in charge, so it’s your job to watch your diet, exercise, and take your medication on schedule.

Understanding how diabetes works will help you make better decisions about how to monitor and manage it. Sign up for a class or a support group on coping with diabetes. Ahmann says these are excellent but underused resources: “Not enough patients seek them out, and not enough doctors send their patients to them.” Not only do these resources offer essential information, but they also bring together people who have the same challenges, giving them a place to meet and talk with each other.

Mistake #2: Expecting Too Much Too Soon

One of the biggest hurdles in controlling your blood sugar is sticking to your eating and exercise habits for the long run.

“Most people expect something dramatic is going to happen right away,” says endocrinologist Preethi Srikanthan, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine at UCLA. “But it has taken them a decade or two to get to this point, and it will take a while for them to even get to that initial 5%-10% reduction in weight.”

Expecting too much to change right away is a mistake – and so is doing too much before you are ready. When it comes to exercise, take small steps, says Ahmann says. If you do more than you can tolerate, you may quit, or do too much and hurt yourself. So start off slowly and ease into the habit.

Be sure to talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you aren’t already active. They can help you set realistic goals and plan a routine that’s safe and effective.

Mistake #3: Going It Alone

“One error that people make when it comes to exercise is that they try to do it without help from other people,” Ahmann says.

Not only do spouses, partners, friends, and family members make great exercise buddies, but they are also terrific cheerleaders. So don’t hesitate to ask a loved one to help you stick to your medication schedule or eat a healthy diet.

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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