Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are incurable diseases. Forced to live with the condition, it is important that people with diabetes learn to manage their disease. With proper management of diabetes, blood sugar levels can be kept stable and side effects can be avoided. Knowing what factors can affect your blood sugar levels and then monitor those effects is the first step towards managing your diabetes.
Since the body gets glucose from the foods you eat, it’s important to be mindful of what you’re eating and how it affects your blood sugar. You’ll want to consider the type of food you’re eating, the combinations of food types you’re eating and how much you’re eating. Try to keep your meals well-balanced so they include a mix of starches, fruits and vegetables, protein, and fats. Be particularly intentional with what kinds of carbohydrates you’re consuming. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains count as healthy carbohydrates. Refined sugars and white bread are not so healthy. Carbohydrates that contain finer help keep your blood sugar levels stable. Learn how to count carbohydrates, at least at first, so you can monitor the impact on your blood sugar level and so you can determine the proper dose of insulin you’ll need. If you’re taking medication, make sure you coordinate your meal and medication schedules to avoid hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. Avoid sugary drinks since they cause blood sugar to rise quickly. If you’re experiencing a low blood sugar level though, sugar-sweetened drinks like soda and juice can be used to quickly raise low blood sugar.
When we exercise our muscles use sugar for energy. Exercise is another important part of a diabetes management plan. Regular exercise also helps the body use insulin effectively. You don’t want to take on too much too quickly so ask your doctor what’s appropriate for you. Most adults aim for 30 minutes a day most days a week. Try to stick with the schedule you choose so that you can coordinate your meals and medications with your exercise program. Determine what your base blood sugar level needs to be before you can begin exercise. Then make sure you monitor your blood sugar level before during and after exercise since exercise can lower blood sugar levels. Always stay hydrated since dehydration affects blood sugar levels. Bring small snacks or glucose tablets with you in case your blood sugar level drops.
Depending on the severity of your diabetes you may need to consider using insulin and other diabetes medications as part of your diabetes management plan. They can lower your blood sugar levels when diet and exercise aren’t enough on their own. Make sure that you store your insulin correctly—it’s especially sensitive to temperature extremes. If you find your medications cause your blood sugar level to drop too low or that it’s too high, talk to your doctor since the dosage may need adjusting. Whenever you switch medications or try a new medication be extra cautious at first. It’s important that you monitor changes in your blood sugar levels and any other side effects you may be experiencing.