Diabetes Forecast

51 Tips for Better Living With Diabetes

By Allison Tsai , ,


If you’re gearing up for some serious 2017 goal-setting, or you’re simply interested in adding to your toolbox of stay-healthy habits, keep reading. We’ve collected feel-good suggestions from you—people living with diabetes—and the doctors, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, diabetes educators, and fitness experts who dedicate their lives to helping you manage it. Here’s to feeling your best in the coming year!

1. What I like to do before the New Year is pick different activities to take part in. I signed up for a 5K, and now there are things I can do to prepare. —Tammy McLemore, type 2 

2. Be the healthiest you can be. I don’t focus on losing weight or some temporary goal. It has to be intrinsic. This year, I’m going to work on my A1C, and to do that I’m going to eat more natural, whole foods. —Joanne Saunders, type 2

3. I remember my resolve to not let diabetes define me. I have traveled extensively since I was diagnosed. I went zip-lining on one trip. On another, I saw cave art from 15,000 years ago. I think about what I can control right now. —Stephanie Iacovelli, type 1

4. My goal for the New Year: Incorporate alternate sources of exercise into my regular routine to break up always going to the gym or pool. I’ll try skiing, snowboarding, hiking, or maybe a new form of Pilates—things I haven’t done before. —Abbey Brau, type 1

5. Plan Ahead. I always carry a dose of my medication in my purse, so when the day takes an unexpected turn, I have my dinnertime dose with me. —Shelley Rau, OTR/L, type 2

6. One of the biggest and best things I do is participate in a monthly diabetes support group. We discuss our lives with diabetes, talk about new research and medicines, have guest speakers, fix and share healthy recipes, and raise funds for our test strip– and insulin-assistance program. —Kim Mahaffey, type 2

7. Exercise as much as you can. It does not have to be running or cycling for hours. It can be walking around the block, swimming a couple of laps, or going to the gym. Just keep moving for an hour or so a day. —Bill Szemcsak, type 2

8. If sugar or a variation of sugar is listed in the first five ingredients, don’t buy the product. Purchase only products where sugar comes from natural sources, such as fruit or dairy. —Jessica Swift, RD

9. Get ready for a year of your best health. Mark your diabetes, dental, and eye appointments on your calendar. And schedule your own “prep for the appointment” session a couple of weeks before each office visit so you can have blood glucose readings, refill requests, and your questions ready. —Kelly Rawlings, type 1

10. Don’t be afraid to venture out and try new products, such as ancient grains, freekeh, quinoa, and amaranth, or fruits and veggies you don’t normally eat. Purchase whole, natural foods. Avoid salty canned goods. Half of your plate should include nonstarchy vegetables, preferably something green. —Jessica Swift, RD

11. Schedule specific days and times to exercise, like you would an appointment. Reassess your exercise regime every month to see where you can progress or change the routine. —Nicole Anziani, RD, a Fit4D CDE

12. Ask your pharmacist to sync up the fill dates of all your prescriptions so they are due at the same time. —Chuck Riepenhoff, RPH, CDE

13. I encounter challenges when reordering pump and CGM supplies. Thankfully, they’re covered 100 percent by my insurance. It’s okay to tell the representative that your life depends on the receipt of your supplies. Advocate for yourself and follow the authorization process to ensure there are no delays. —Maria Flores Acosta, type 1

14. If you’re really hungry and you’ve been trying not to eat for six hours, you’re loading the gun. When a high-calorie food becomes available, it pulls the trigger. Think about the quality of the food you’re eating, and eat regularly. —Ashley Gearhardt, PhD, assistant professor of clinical psychology at the University of Michigan

15. Get to know staff at the places you frequent: the grocery store, gym, school, etc. Let them know you have diabetes. If you are experiencing a low, it is easier to ask for help from someone you know. —Maria Flores Acosta, type 1

16. Recently, my husband was diagnosed with leukemia. I was the only one available to care for him. It became very important that I take excellent care of myself and my diabetes. You can’t take care of anyone unless you take care of yourself first. —Sharlyn Premuda, type 1

17. Boost protein at meals and snacks to stay full longer. Add peanut butter or another protein to a fruit, and make sure to include protein in meals. —Nicole Anziani, RD, a Fit4D CDE

18. I tell my patients, “When I recommend an exercise program for you to do every day, it is like a prescription.” For someone who does 30 to 45 minutes of exercise every day, the glycemic reduction can be equal to, if not more than, some of the medications for diabetes. —Pauline Camacho, MD, FACE

19. It’s tough for anybody to keep track of 10 or 12 pills and figure out when they need to be refilled. That’s where prepackaging daily medication doses comes in. Pharmacists can take over filling and sending them to you in these packages, so it’s as easy as possible. —Chuck Riepenhoff, RPH, CDE

20. When I travel, I carry at least two to four extra infusion set changes, two bottles of insulin, syringes, an extra bottle of test strips, and extra blood pressure pills. I also stock up on fruit snacks, granola bars, peanut butter or jerky for protein, and applesauce in drinkable packets in case I miss a meal or need to treat a low. —Kathy Rosenkranz, type 1

21. If you’re feeling depressed, seek resources within your community or your doctor’s office. We tell patients we can’t forget that our head is attached to our body. —Maria Elena Rodriguez, RD, CDN, CDE

22. Pay attention to your body—type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. If you notice changes, write them down so you can discuss them with your physician. Keep that line of communication with your physician open because you guys are a team. —Bedford Thaxton, type 2

23. Because you have diabetes, you’re in a unique position. Statins are important for heart protection. They decrease the risk for stroke and heart events down the road, even if cholesterol levels are normal. —Chuck Riepenhoff, RPH, CDE

24. My husband didn’t have experience with diabetes, so he was unaware that my blood glucose affects my mood. Explain to your significant other and friends that the slightest change could be the difference between Jekyll and Hyde. —Elena Froud, type 1

25. Take the small wins. Tomorrow is a new day to try again and learn.  —Kathy Rosenkranz, type 1

26. I joined a hip-hop fitness class where I made some of the best friends of my life. I have fun and don’t feel like I’m exercising, and my friends help me stay accountable. —Jen Borrasso, type 1

27. It’s easy to get caught up in individual tasks, such as checking blood glucose or swallowing a pill. Take a few minutes at a set time each week to think about your diabetes overall: how it’s going, how you feel, whether you’re in a rut, and whether your routine is working. —Kelly Rawlings, type 1

28. Team up with a diabetes educator. They have the experience and training to help make managing your diabetes easier. —Kellie Antinori-Lent, MSN, RN, CDE    

29. Set a cell phone alarm to remember to take medication at similar times of the day. —Nicole Anziani, RD, a Fit4D CDE

30. Find an endocrinologist and a nutritionist you connect with. They have your back, don’t judge, and give you much-needed support. With their help, you can reach your goals. —Carol Ries, type 1

31. Find healthier ways to cook the foods you like. I love omelets, but egg whites are healthier, so I cook with those. —Angela Brooks, prediabetes

32. Family members aren’t as likely to be as in the know about diabetes as you are. Check in every once in a while to see if they have questions or concerns. —Kelly Rawlings, type 1

33. With the new year comes the ability to try to drive change. It starts with admitting you’re the CEO of your own life. Prove to yourself you can set a lofty goal—and then achieve it. —Sean Finn, type 1

34. Go for a walk after dinner. It gets your numbers down. —Jessie Cain, type 1

35. When driving somewhere, park farther away from the entrance so you have to walk. —Jen Borrasso, type 1

36. Being knowledgeable about your disease is the key to longevity with diabetes. —Osama Hamdy, MD

37. Timing my eating correctly after a mealtime bolus makes a huge difference in my post-meal blood sugars. —Stephen Price, type 1

38. Find something you enjoy and stick with it. I walk my dog for at least 30 minutes a day. I have been doing that for almost five years now. It’s helped to get my A1C into the 7s from high 8s and 9s. —Carol Ries, type 1

39. Got a go-bag? Especially if you’re using insulin, it’s a good idea to invest in a carrying case. Make a list of what diabetes care items belong in it, regularly check it for needed refills, and remember: Don’t leave home without it. —Kelly Rawlings, type 1

40. You’ll have good days, bad days, and going-half-mad days, but it does not reflect upon you as a person. —Stacy Nicholson, type 1

41. I have a good friend in the diabetes community who I can text or call at a moment’s notice. We share text messages to keep us laughing on our more challenging days. —Anna Norton, MS, type 1

42. To deal with painful neuropathy, I lay in bed and do meditation and breathing exercises. This helps with the pain. —Gary Llewellyn, type 2

43. Take the harder days in stride and know there are better days ahead. —Shelley Skuster, had gestational diabetes  

44. Portion out snacks if you have a habit of eating out of larger packages. —Nicole Anziani, RD, a Fit4D CDE

45. Know someone else with diabetes? Congratulate that person for shouldering a tough burden—no matter his or her A1C, food choices, or proof of physical activity. We all need a bolus of positive feedback now and then. —Kelly Rawlings, type 1

46. Infuse water with two or three slices of orange so that it becomes flavorful—the amount of calories is really minimal. —Lorena Drago, MS, RD, CDE, CDN

47. Ask for a refrigerator in your hotel room when you travel. Most hotels will provide a mini fridge at no charge to keep your insulin cool. —Maria Flores Acosta, type 1    

48. Try veggies at a restaurant where a pro has prepared them. There is a better chance they will be yummy, and you can figure out what you like and how you like them. —Amy Soileau, type 1

49. Add small amounts of fresh fruit to meals so you don’t miss having the sweetness. —Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN    

50. Make a list of important health care identification and phone numbers, prescription refill websites, and more. When the contact information for your health insurance, doctors, durable medical equipment supplier, and so on is in one place, it makes it easier to track down what you need. —Kelly Rawlings, type 1

51. As a spouse, you are the cheerleader. When the person with diabetes is tired of having diabetes, it’s time to step up your game to encourage them to keep up the good fight and not to give up. —Melanie Koch, wife of type 1 husband



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