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6 Diabetes Mistakes -- and How to Avoid Them

Mistake #4: Neglecting Other Problems

Many people are dealing with depression and stress in addition to diabetes.

People with diabetes are twice as likely to be depressed, and an estimated 1 in 3 people with diabetes have symptoms of depression. The lethargy common to depression can be so discouraging that you might give up your efforts to take care of your diabetes. Not only will that make your diabetes worse, it may also intensify your depression, creating a vicious cycle.

“You need to recognize depression and work with it,” Srikanthan says.

Depression and stress can also have a negative effect on blood sugar levels. Constant stress may increase hormones that hamper the ability of insulin to do its job. So, Ahmann says, doing “anything to reduce stress will improve your blood sugar.”

The good news: Exercise helps relieve stress, and there’s evidence that meditation and massage will benefit blood sugar levels, Ahmann says.

Mistake #5: Misunderstanding and Misusing Medications

Ahmann says many of his patients think medications are more powerful than diet and exercise, which is a common misconception. In many cases, type 2 diabetes can be controlled by a combination of a healthy diet and regular exercise without the need for medication. But for many people, medication can be helpful, too.

Among those who do require medications, Ahmann sees one mistake that stands out.

“It’s surprising how many people miss doses,” he says.

Getting off track with your meds is a quick way to wreck your blood sugar level, Ahmann says, so “you need to be honest with your [health care] provider that this is an issue.” Your doctor might be able to change your dosing schedule to one that better suits you.

Mistake #6: Making Poor Food Choices

When it comes to food and blood sugar, the big mistake is not the single candy bar that you couldn’t resist, Srikanthan says. It’s persistent unhealthy eating habits -- what you eat over and over again -- that have a worse effect on your blood sugar.

“People think it’s a one-time diversion, but no, it’s a consistent problem that affects your test results,” she says.

The two biggest hurdles, Srikanthan says, are calories and carbohydrates. You have to control both to keep your blood sugar level steady.

“Try to be aware of what’s going into your mouth,” she says.

That means keeping a diet diary to keep track of what you’re eating and drinking, and always reading nutrition labels so you know what’s in the food you’re choosing.

Not eating on a regular schedule is another common food mistake. Make time for breakfast, and eat regular meals during the day, so you don’t lose control and overeat in the evening.

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Reviewed on August 08, 2013

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