4 Steps to Manage Your Diabetes
By Ali Spencer, RD
Dec 20, 2017
Updated Nov 17, 2023
5 min read
Over 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes and more than 84 million have pre-diabetes - many of whom are undiagnosed. Here are some steps you can take to make sure you manage your diabetes well.
Know your numbers! Your hemoglobin A1C describes your blood sugar numbers over a long period of time, and daily blood sugar counts show how your body reacts to food, medication, and other factors. If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes, your healthcare provider has likely recommended that you test your blood sugar on a regular basis. Additionally, you should know the signs of a high blood sugar: extreme thirst, dry and itchy skin, frequent urination, blurry vision, extreme hunger, and fatigue. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, test your blood sugar!
Eat regularly throughout the day and follow a balanced diet. Foods with carbohydrates will increase your blood sugar, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid them. Carbohydrates are an essential part of a balanced diet and give us energy. If you have diabetes, you’ll want to balance your carbohydrates with protein and non-starchy vegetables. Watch your portion sizes of these foods and reduce simple sugars in your diet.
Physical activity is an important part of diabetes management because it helps to lower blood sugars. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise five or more days a week as a minimum. If you’re not doing that yet, whatever you can do to begin is still good. Walking, swimming, biking, and dancing are good places to start. Make exercise part of your routine, find someone to go with, take your dog, or listen to music to make it more enjoyable.
Many people with diabetes will have medication prescribed by their doctor. There are oral medications and medications you inject (insulin) to help manage diabetes. Make sure you remember to take your medication every day and as prescribed. Let your healthcare professional know if you have difficulty remembering to take your medication or don’t know how you should be taking it.