Looking After Your Diabetes

A few simple lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of complications from diabetes

Man about to take a bite out of the sandwich

Everyone should look after their general health, but if you have type 2 diabetes, staying well is essential. By making some simple lifestyle changes, you can better manage your diabetes and reduce the risk of complications.

Keep the Weight Off

It is harder for your body to process sugar in the blood when you are overweight. Being a healthy weight helps reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers, and keeps your cholesterol levels down. But don’t crash diet. Set a goal of losing one to two pounds each week. It is better to lose weight gradually than to lose a lot and quickly regain it.

Be More Active

Exercising is not just about losing weight. Being more active can help lower your blood sugar level and blood pressure. Plus, it is good for your heart. Aim for 30 minutes of activity at least three times a week. If you haven’t been exercising at all, start slowly and gently increase the amount. Try to find something that you are going to enjoy, such as swimming, a dance class, or a stroll during the day.

Stop Smoking

People with diabetes who smoke are more likely to suffer from diabetes-related complications. Quitting smoking is not easy, but there is a lot of support available to help you stop. Talk to a health-care professional, call 1-800-QUIT NOW, or join a local support group.

Eat Healthy Foods

A balanced eating plan can help control your blood glucose level. Plan on three meals a day with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Avoid alcohol, sugar, salt, and fatty or fried foods, particularly those high in saturated fat, such as red meat. If you have questions about your diet, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian.

Look After Your Feet

People with diabetes have an increased risk of foot problems due to nerve damage. You may experience a loss of feeling in your feet or toes. Have your feet examined regularly by a podiatrist and check yourself daily for any changes, such as blisters, swelling, or redness. Make sure your shoes fit correctly and run your hand inside a shoe before putting it on. That way you can find any objects that may damage your foot, such as small stones. Avoid extreme temperatures.