As you adjust to living with diabetes, these tips can help you better manage your health.
If you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes, it can take some time to adapt to your new life. At first, you may feel scared or wonder how you’re going to manage your health condition. But as you get used to the reality of living with diabetes, you’ll likely find that life will return to normal, even though you’ll have to make a few lifestyle changes along the way.
These five tips can help you live healthier if you have diabetes:
∙ Educate yourself. The more you know, the more you can be in control of your own health. Learn all you can about diabetes and what you can do to prevent complications from the disease. Find out what symptoms may indicate that your diabetes is not under control and understand why it’s important to carefully manage your condition. Your physician will likely provide you with information about the disease, but you may want to do your own research, too.
“Your physician is in this fight with you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about anything related the disease, like diet and nutrition, how to monitor blood sugar, and what resources are available to you,” said Michelle Kennedy, RN, BSN, CDE, diabetes program coordinator at Maury Regional Medical Center.
Maury Regional Health has an online list of facts and frequently asked questions about diabetes from a certified diabetes educator that can serve as a great resource for you. Question topics include blood sugar, A1c, diet, nutrition and more. Go to MauryRegional.com/Diabetes and click on “Frequently Asked Diabetes Questions.”
∙ Assemble a good care team. Managing diabetes often requires a team of health professionals. In addition to your primary doctor, you may need to see a specialist, such as an endocrinologist. A diabetes care team and registered dietitian can help you make healthy lifestyle changes. Since people with diabetes are more prone to some health issues, you may also need to include others on your team, such as an eye doctor, podiatrist and mental health professional.
Support groups for those with diabetes and their family members are available at Maury Regional Health year-round. The monthly Diabetes Support Group discusses the care and management of diabetes with a certified diabetes educator. There’s also the monthly Pediatric Diabetes Support Group to provide encouragement and education for children with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
For more information about upcoming support groups and meeting dates, visit MauryRegional.com/Classes-and-Events.
∙ Be proactive about managing your diabetes. You will likely receive a lot of information and advice from your care team. The more proactive you can be about following this advice, the better. Make recommended changes to your diet. Follow your doctor’s advice about medication. Adopt other healthy habits, such as exercising more, reducing stress, getting enough sleep, stopping the use of tobacco products and losing weight, to help better manage your condition.
To help with diabetes self-management, Maury Regional Health offers a Diabetes Self-Management Class that is recognized by the American Diabetes Association. The eight-hour course is taught by a certified diabetes educator and a registered dietitian and discusses medications, diet and meal plannings, exercise and more. A physician’s order is required to attend the class.
∙ Monitor your health. Managing diabetes is all about keeping your blood sugar levels in a healthy range. To help you monitor your health, check blood sugar levels as suggested by your diabetes care team and know your numbers. Keep track of these numbers to get a better idea of what makes them go up or down. Don’t skip appointments with doctors and other health care professionals. Pay attention to signs and symptoms that your diabetes treatment plan may need to be adjusted. Ask questions when you don’t understand something or need more information.
If you have questions about diets and nutrition, Maury Regional Health offers one-on-one nutrition therapy sessions with a registered dietitian. They walk you through developing an individualized meal plan that is tailored to your specific needs. A physician’s order is required for this program.
∙ Take things one step at a time. It can be overwhelming to think of managing diabetes as something you have to do for the rest of your life. But as you adjust your habits, you’ll likely find they become second nature to you and things get easier. Make adjustments to your lifestyle one step at a time and remind yourself with each change you make that you are giving yourself the gift of better health.
“Diabetes self-management is all about the lifestyle decisions you make in regard to eating, monitoring your blood sugar and blood pressure, taking medications as prescribed, exercising and not using tobacco products,” Kennedy said. “Remember that you’re not in this alone. There are resources available to help you in your fight.”
To learn more about the diabetes services provided at Maury Regional Health, visit MauryRegional.com/Diabetes.
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Date Last Reviewed: February 16, 2023
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor