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How can I control my diabetic?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects how your body turns food into energy. With diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use insulin effectively. When there’s too much glucose (sugar) in your blood, it can cause health problems. But you can take steps to control your diabetes and stay healthy.

What is diabetes?

There are a few different types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes – Your body doesn’t produce insulin. It’s caused by an autoimmune reaction where your immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. About 5-10% of people with diabetes have type 1.
  • Type 2 diabetes – Your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or doesn’t use insulin well. It’s the most common type of diabetes, accounting for about 90-95% of cases.
  • Gestational diabetes – High blood sugar during pregnancy. It usually resolves after giving birth.
  • Prediabetes – Blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. Without lifestyle changes, prediabetes often turns into type 2 diabetes.

In all types of diabetes, having too much glucose in your blood can cause health problems like nerve damage, kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, and blindness. By controlling your diabetes, you can decrease your risk of developing these complications.

How do I know if I have diabetes?

There are a few key symptoms and risk factors for diabetes:

  • Frequent urination and increased thirst – When you have too much glucose in your blood, your kidneys flush it out through urine, which leads to dehydration.
  • Increased hunger – Even though glucose is in your blood, your cells can’t use it properly for energy due to insufficient insulin.
  • Fatigue – Because your cells can’t access blood glucose, you have no energy.
  • Blurred vision – High blood glucose can cause fluid to be pulled from the lenses of your eyes.
  • Slow healing cuts/bruises – High blood glucose affects circulation and blood vessels.
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in hands/feet – Nerve damage from diabetes can cause neuropathy symptoms.

Major risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:

  • Being overweight or obese – Excess fat in the belly makes your cells more resistant to insulin.
  • Sedentary lifestyle – Lack of exercise increases risk.
  • Family history – Having a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes increases your risk.
  • Ethnic background – Certain ethnicities like African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, and Asian American are at higher risk.
  • Age – Risk increases as you get older, especially after age 45.
  • Gestational diabetes – Women who developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – This hormonal disorder makes it more difficult for your body to use insulin properly.

If you have any of these symptoms or risk factors, see your doctor and get your blood sugar tested. This is the only way to diagnose diabetes for certain.

What should my target blood sugar levels be?

If you have diabetes, you’ll need to regularly check your blood sugar levels. either with a continuous glucose monitor or blood glucose meter. This helps you see how well your treatment plan is working and if you need to make any adjustments. It also lets you catch high or low blood sugar early.

The American Diabetes Association recommends these blood sugar level ranges for people with diabetes:

Time Blood Sugar Level
Before meals 80-130 mg/dL
1-2 hours after the start of a meal Less than 180 mg/dL
Bedtime and overnight 100-150 mg/dL

Talk to your doctor about what blood sugar targets are right for you. They may recommend tighter or looser ranges depending on factors like your age, duration of diabetes, risk of complications, hypoglycemia unawareness, and individualized needs. Work together to determine safe, achievable daily targets.

How can I control my blood sugar levels?

Here are some effective ways to control blood glucose and manage diabetes day-to-day:

Take medications as prescribed

If you have type 1 diabetes, you’ll need insulin therapy to survive. With type 2 diabetes, you may need medications, insulin, or both to properly control blood sugar. Some common diabetes medications include:

  • Insulin – Comes in different types like rapid-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting, and long-acting. You inject insulin to lower blood sugar when diet and other medications aren’t enough.
  • Metformin – An oral medication that reduces glucose production by the liver and improves how your body responds to insulin.
  • Sulfonylureas – Stimulate your pancreas to release more insulin. Examples are glimepiride and glipizide.
  • DPP-4 inhibitors – Help improve A1C levels by increasing insulin production and decreasing glucagon levels after meals. Examples are sitagliptin and saxagliptin.
  • GLP-1 receptor agonists – Mimic a hormone called GLP-1 that keeps blood sugar levels in check. Exenatide and liraglutide are GLP-1 agonists.
  • SGLT2 inhibitors – Work by flushing excess glucose out through the urine. Canagliflozin and dapagliflozin are SGLT2s.

Always take medications as prescribed by your doctor and monitor how they affect your blood sugar. Report any concerning side effects. Combination therapy with multiple medications is common to help control diabetes from different angles.

Follow a healthy meal plan

A properly balanced diet helps manage blood sugar levels and is a foundational diabetes treatment. Work with a dietitian or diabetes educator to develop a personalized meal plan that fits your preferences and goals. Some healthy eating tips include:

  • Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and lean protein.
  • Choose high-fiber, complex carbohydrates that digest slowly and have a lower glycemic index.
  • Portion your meals out properly to maintain healthy body weight.
  • Minimize processed foods, sugar, refined grains, and unhealthy fats.
  • Time your meals and carb intake to align with when your medications are working.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water or unsweetened beverages.
  • Be mindful of how different foods affect your blood sugar by testing before and after meals.

Consistency with your diet is key. Make sure to eat regularly to prevent blood sugar crashes or spikes. Work with your healthcare team if you require insulin therapy to match your dosing to your carb intake.

Exercise regularly

Getting regular physical activity provides tremendous benefits for controlling diabetes. Exercise helps your body use insulin better and keeps blood sugar levels in check between meals. It also promotes weight loss, reduces cardiovascular risk, and improves your overall health. Some tips to get active with diabetes:

  • Aim for at least 30 minutes per day of moderate exercise like brisk walking.
  • Incorporate both aerobic exercise and resistance training.
  • Time your workouts to align with when insulin levels are higher.
  • Drink plenty of water and have a fast-acting carb on hand in case blood sugar drops too low.
  • Wear diabetes ID and bring supplies in case blood sugar goes out of range.
  • Check blood glucose levels before, during, and after longer exercise sessions.
  • Inspect your feet regularly to check for openings or irritation.
  • See your doctor before significantly increasing your physical activity.

Start slow if you are new to exercise and gradually increase the frequency, intensity, time, and type of activity. Remember that even small amounts of activity like taking a short walk benefit your blood sugar management.

Reduce stress

Diabetes is associated with high rates of anxiety and depression. Mental health conditions can negatively impact your ability to manage diabetes effectively. Finding healthy ways to cope with stress is really important.

Some tips for managing stress include:

  • Identifying sources of stress and coming up with solutions to reduce them
  • Talking to a mental health professional or joining a support group
  • Making time for relaxing activities like reading, crafts, or taking a bath
  • Getting social support from loved ones
  • Using breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga to relax
  • Squeezing in regular exercise to boost mood
  • Reframing negative thoughts and having compassion for yourself

Dealing with stress productively helps prevent chronically high blood sugar levels during tense times and promotes your overall mental wellbeing.

Get enough quality sleep

Not getting adequate sleep can disrupt the hormones that regulate blood sugar. Sticking to a regular sleep-wake schedule helps keep your blood sugar steady. Aim for 7-9 hours per night. Some tips for better sleep include:

  • Going to bed and waking up at the same times daily
  • Making sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet
  • Winding down with a bedtime routine each night
  • Avoiding screen time and big meals close to bedtime
  • Exercising regularly, but not too soon before bed
  • Treating issues like sleep apnea that interfere with restful sleep

Pay attention to your blood sugar at bedtime and through the night. Speak with your doctor if low or high glucose during sleep is an ongoing issue for you.

Stop smoking and limit alcohol

If you smoke or drink heavily, quitting or cutting back can positively impact your diabetes management. Smoking worsens insulin resistance while alcohol disrupts blood sugar control. The health benefits of reducing these habits include:

  • Lowering blood pressure and improving cholesterol
  • Decreasing diabetes complications like heart and kidney disease
  • Avoiding dangerous blood sugar lows caused by excessive drinking
  • Improving blood circulation and nerve functioning
  • Reducing inflammation and oxidative stress
  • Losing weight and body fat if cutting out excess calories from alcohol

Talk to your healthcare provider about programs and support available to help you quit smoking or drinking. Controlling these habits will help get your diabetes under better control.

Check your blood pressure and cholesterol

Having high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels makes you more prone to cardiovascular problems. Since diabetes already increases your risk, managing these other conditions is important.

Work with your doctor to keep your blood pressure under 140/90 mmHg. If needed, medications like ACE inhibitors or diuretics can help. For cholesterol, the ADA recommends:

  • LDL cholesterol under 100 mg/dL (or 70 mg/dL if very high risk)
  • HDL cholesterol over 40 mg/dL for men and 50 mg/dL for women
  • Triglycerides under 150 mg/dL

In addition to medication, regular exercise, a healthy diet, and not smoking can help you meet target blood pressure and cholesterol levels to reduce cardiovascular complications.

Examine your feet daily

Peripheral neuropathy and reduced circulation from diabetes can increase your risk of foot injuries and infections. Carefully inspect your feet each day for any cuts, blisters, red spots, swelling, calluses, or irritation. Notify your doctor right away about any concerning foot issues. You can prevent complications by:

  • Looking at your feet daily and going barefoot to feel for injuries
  • Washing your feet in warm, not hot, water
  • Using moisturizer to prevent cracking and dryness
  • Cutting nails carefully along the curve of the toe
  • Always wearing shoes, socks, slippers to protect feet
  • Checking inside shoes before putting them on
  • Getting properly fitted shoes with good support
  • Treating minor cuts promptly with an antibiotic cream and bandage
  • Seeing a podiatrist for calluses, corns, or ingrown toenails
  • Never using hot packs, heating pads, or soaking injured feet

Proper foot care and prompt treatment of any problems will help you avoid losing a toe, foot, or leg to a diabetic complication.

How can I stay motivated managing my diabetes?

There are many lifestyle changes involved in properly managing diabetes. It’s totally normal to sometimes feel burned out or unmotivated. Here are some tips to help you stay on track with self-care:

  • Educate yourself – The more you know about diabetes, the easier it will be to make informed health decisions.
  • Take it one small step at a time – Incremental changes are more sustainable long-term than major overhauls all at once.
  • Track progress – Seeing concrete improvements in your A1C, weight, etc. can show that your hard work is paying off.
  • Consider the benefits – Stay focused on how managing your diabetes helps prevent complications and keeps you healthy.
  • Get support – Loved ones, friends with diabetes, and support groups provide invaluable understanding and encouragement.
  • Identify what motivates you – Connect your goals to deep values or use rewards like a fun outing after a doctor’s appointment.
  • Chat with your healthcare team – They can brainstorm solutions and provide referrals for mental health support if you’re struggling.
  • Problem-solve challenges as they arise – Stressful situations are bound to happen, so have a plan to get back on course.

Diabetes is a 24/7 disease, but taking it step-by-step and tapping into resources helps make self-management more achievable.


The key to controlling diabetes is forming healthy daily habits around meal planning, exercising, taking medications, monitoring blood sugar, and solving problems as they occur. Work closely with your medical team to find a treatment plan that fits your lifestyle and needs. While diabetes is a challenging condition, the compensation of preventing complications and feeling your best makes staying on top of self-care worthwhile.