Your Plan for Managing Diabetes
Diet, exercise, medication, glucose testing and doctor’s appointments—oh my! If you have diabetes, all these things may feel like a lot to keep track of. But staying on top of your health doesn’t have to be a chore. Work with your doctor to come up with a game plan, and create a schedule so you know exactly what you need to do and when.
Use the tips below as a guide, and customize it to the regimen you and your doctor develop just for you. Write it out or put reminders on your computer or phone to keep you on track.
Every day: Watch what you eat, following the meal plan that best works for your condition. Eat your fruits, veggies and whole grains, stick to lean protein and dairy products, and limit fats and sugar. If you test your blood glucose, do so as directed by your doctor. Keep notes of your readings to take to your next appointment.
Most days: Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity. Ride a bike, take a dance class or do yard work. For most people, a brisk walk is an easy, safe way to exercise. Do some stretching and strength training, too.
Every 3–6 months: If you take insulin, or your blood glucose levels aren’t in good control, the American Diabetes Association recommends seeing your doctor four times a year. Even if your diabetes is well-managed or you take oral medication, your doctor will want to see you at least twice a year, if not more.
At most visits, your doctor will perform the following screenings: A1C test, to measure your level of blood glucose control over the past three months; blood pressure; weight and body mass index (BMI); and foot exam. Bring your home blood glucose testing record to discuss with your doctor. This information and your other test results will help your doctor make any needed adjustments to your care regimen.
Every 12 months: Usually once a year, but sometimes more often, your visit to the doctor will include a cholesterol test and blood or urine test, or both, to check kidney function.
Also, get your eyes checked at least once a year. A comprehensive dilated eye exam is essential for people with diabetes, who are at increased risk for glaucoma, cataracts and retinopathy, a nerve disorder. An annual eye exam can diagnose eye problems early, when they can be effectively treated, and is a covered benefit for people who have diabetes.