Keeping your diabetes under control will help you prevent heart, nerve, and foot problems. Here's what you can do right now.
Lose extra weight. Moving toward a healthy weight helps control blood sugars. Your doctor, a dietitian, and a fitness trainer can get you started on a plan that will work for you.
Check your blood sugar level at least twice a day. Is it in the range advised by your doctor? Also, write it down so you can track your progress and note how food and activity affect your levels.
Get A1c blood tests to find out your average blood sugar for the past 2 to 3 months. Most people with type 2 diabetes should aim for an A1c of 7% or lower. Ask your doctor how often you need to get an A1c test.
Track your carbohydrates. Know how many carbs you’re eating and how often you have them. Managing your carbs can help keep your blood sugar under control. Choose high-fiber carbs, such as green vegetables, fruit, beans, and whole grains.
Control your blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Diabetes makes heart disease more likely, so keep a close eye on your blood pressure and cholesterol. Talk with your doctor about keeping your cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure in check. Take medications as prescribed.
Keep moving. Regular exercise can help you reach or maintain a healthy weight. Exercise also cuts stress and helps control blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Get at least 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise 5 days a week. Try walking, dancing, low-impact aerobics, swimming, tennis, or a stationary bike. Start out more slowly if you aren't active now. You can break up the 30 minutes -- say, by taking a 10-minute walk after every meal. Include strength training and stretching on some days, too.
Catch some ZZZs. When you’re sleep-deprived, you tend to eat more, and you can put on weight, which leads to health problems. People with diabetes who get enough sleep often have healthier eating habits and improved blood sugar levels.
Manage stress. Stress and diabetes don't mix. Excess stress can elevate blood sugar levels. But you can find relief by sitting quietly for 15 minutes, meditating, or practicing yoga.
See your doctor. Get a complete checkup at least once a year, though you may talk to your doctor more often. At your annual physical, make sure you get a dilated eye exam, blood pressure check, foot exam, and screenings for other complications such as kidney damage, nerve damage, and heart disease.
Angela Ginn-Meadow, RD, certified diabetes educator, Joslin Diabetes Center, Baltimore.
Ruth S. Pupo, RD, certified diabetes educator, Diabetes Center at White Memorial Medical Center, Los Angeles.
Constance Brown-Riggs, RD, MSEd, certified diabetes educator, CBR Nutrition Enterprises, Massapequa, NY; author, Eating Soulfully and Healthfully with Diabetes, iUniverse, 2006; author, The African American Guide To Living Well With Diabetes, New Page Books, 2010.
Osama Hamdy, MD, PhD, medical director, Obesity Clinical Program, Joslin Diabetes Center; instructor, Harvard Medical School, Boston.
FDA: "Complications of Diabetes."
American Diabetes Association: "Checking Your Blood Glucose" and "Types of Exercise."
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "What are Diabetes Problems?"
Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!
Your level is currently
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.
Thank you for signing up for the WebMD Diabetes Newsletter!
You'll find tips and tricks as well as the latest news and research on Diabetes.
Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?
Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.