Eight Great Tips to Improve Your Diabetes Health

Use insulin as prescribed
Use insulin as prescribed

You Can Improve Your Health with Diabetes

Are you like many diabetics, struggling to keep their A1Cs in line? Do you wonder why your post-meal values seem to spike, regardless of careful meal planning? What happens when you get up in the morning to high blood sugars, even though you went to bed in range?

Here are a few tips from a Type 1 diabetic, that just may help those numbers improve, and possibly even result in better overall health!

1. Not all carbs are created equal. Just because the nutrition information on the side of the package says that there are 18 grams of carbohydrates per serving, does not mean that you should take the same amount of insulin or other medication to counteract the anticipated impact on blood sugar. Protein, combined with carbs, will generally prevent a blood sugar spike. You may find that less insulin is needed at the outset of a meal that includes low-fat protein choices, like turkey. On the other hand, fat content will affect the metabolism of sugars, resulting in a much higher reading hours after a meal. Pizza is a usual culprit. A late night slice or two can result in a hang-over-like morning, even if no beer is involved!

2. Timing is everything. Some diabetics have found that their insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio is lower (that is, more insulin is required) in the morning hours than later in the day. By keeping this in mind, you may need to add medication, or cut back on serving sizes during breakfast to prevent mid-morning highs. Another alternative is to exercise early in the day to boost sluggish metabolism.

Chose your meals wisely
Chose your meals wisely

Diabetes Health Interview

3. Move it, move it, move it! Yes, there is no getting around this one. Any program in which you hope to achieve better health will invariably include a recommendation of some type of exercise. Depending on your overall health, however, it is critical that you consult your doctor before beginning a new regime. If you already exercise, you are aware of the fact that, overall, a diabetic will have better control of blood sugar readings with regular exercise. Please be aware that a more intensive exercise program may require adjustments in medication to prevent dangerous low blood sugar episodes.

4. The sugar-free myth. Just because its sugar-free does not mean that it is "safe." Always check the nutrition information label before ingesting food. Sugar, by itself, is not the cause of high blood sugar. Carbohydrates, which are found in any food ingredient that ends in -ose (lactose (milk), fructose, sucruose, etc.) require insulin to "unlock" the energy they would provide to cells in the body. Without adequate insulin, the energy (aka sugar) builds up in the blood - to dangerous levels.

Regular exercise is a must for good health
Regular exercise is a must for good health

5. Don't distract your liver. If you regularly drink alcoholic beverages, there are two points of caution for the diabetic. First, be aware that many drinks (beer and mixers) include sugar and will have an immediate impact on blood sugar levels. Second, if you drink often and more than 2 drinks a day, your liver may be too busy de-toxifying your body to play its important role in regulating overall blood sugar levels. Your liver generally will release stored blood sugar throughout the day to provide energy during the times you are not eating. It may be "distracted" from this role after an alcoholic binge, and the diabetic could then experience dangerous low blood sugar episodes.

6. Dining out dangers. Most Americans know that the average restaurant meal is 2-3 times the size it needs to be. For the diabetic, this means more than just a possibly expanded waistline. A good working knowledge of true serving sizes is a necessity before going out on a date! Many clinics and hospitals have workshops available where you can go for a half day to learn true serving sizes. Take advantage of them! But serving sizes are not the only culprit when it comes to restaurant blood sugar sabotage. Sauces (hidden sugar) and high fat ingredients also have an impact. Its difficult to even order a presumably innocent salad! Best bet may be to test often and adjust medication as necessary when you want to treat yourself to an evening out.

7. Equipment maintenance. If your meter isn't working, then you don't have an accurate read on the true state of your health. Keep an adequate supply of batteries and strips on hand. When the clocks change in spring and fall, make sure you change your meter, as well. The same recommendations apply to insulin pumps, or any other diabetes equipment you may use. Technology is advancing quickly. It may be that the pump you bought 5 years ago is obsolete. Check with your doctor and ask questions. Be proactive! Be sure to wear proper medical identification in case you cannot care for yourself in an emergency.

8. Don't try to "wing it". If you have been diabetic for many years, you may think that you know everything about your body and/or about the disease. You don't. Keep your regular appointments to an endocrinologist, or other specialist. At least 4 times a year, have your A1C tested. Ask about advancements in medications or technology that may improve your personal results. Don't get stuck in a rut. If you find yourself burning out on diabetes care, pick up an inspirational book, or challenge yourself to run a half marathon.

With these simple tips and a good relationship with your doctor, you can be on the road to better health in no time. I'll be right there with you!

Living with Juvenile Diabetes

© 2008 Stephanie Hicks

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Comments 8 comments

Betty Jo Petty profile image

Betty Jo Petty 8 years ago from Arkansas, U.S.A.

Good information, and a very nice looking Hub. I hope you are feeling well. bjp


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks Betty Jo! I appreciate the support! Steph


new horizons profile image

new horizons 8 years ago from Oregon, USA

Hi Steph,

You are the first hub I have posted on, as I just joined.

As evidence of the way the Universe works, we are both Oregonians! What were the chances of that, AND we both write diabetes hubs!

I hope that you will find some useful information in the link I have on my hub, and I think you will find it potentially life-changing, propelling you toward a healthier future.

I have a great deal to learn about HubPages, and haven't gotten into the friends etc part yet, but I will try to get back to read more of your hubs, when I can.

Take care!


sligobay profile image

sligobay 8 years ago from east of the equator

Thanks for the tips in advance. I am just starting to experience high blood sugar and have a grandfather who went blind from diabetes before he died. I have started to pay better attention to my health.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi sligobay, I'm glad that you are aware of the high blood sugar - many people don't even know of that condition! That, plus your family history should be a good motivator to help you take steps to care for yourself and add years to your life. Wishing you good health! Steph


Dr Malik 8 years ago

Hello Steph,

I have written a couple of articles on Diabetes that you and you blogs readers may find useful -

<a href="http://www.thehealthword.com/articles/the-diabetes... Diabetes Diet - The American Diabetes Association Has It Wrong</a>

and

<a href="http://www.thehealthword.com/articles/healthy-tips... Tips for Diabetes</a>

I hope my message finds you in good health and you find the attached information helpful.

Yours in Health,

- Dr M


HikeGuy profile image

HikeGuy 5 years ago from Northern California Coast

Thanks for the informative hub. Excellent information, clearly written and well presented -- good job. Due to coming from a diabetic family, I've had a life-long interest in blood sugar management and weight management. By eating mindfully and exercising regularly I keep hypoglycemia under control, feel better and enjoy life more. I'm glad you included exercise -- it's crucial.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi HikeGuy, living with diabetes gives me firsthand knowledge of the impacts on blood sugar from food, sleep, stress and lack of exercise. Hope everyone in your family stays healthy. Best, Steph

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