According to an estimate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many 100 million Americans may have diabetes or be considered prediabetic. If you are living with any form of diabetes, managing your condition effectively can reduce your risk of experiencing complications such as diabetic nerve pain (neuropathy). One way to do this is by visiting your doctor for regular exams. However, there are additional steps you can take between doctor visits to keep your diabetes in check.
Be Mindful of the Foods You Eat
It’s not enough just to watch how much you eat when you have diabetes. Certain types of foods can affect your blood sugar levels more than others. Carbohydrates, in particular, can have the biggest impact on glucose levels. You still need about 135 grams of carbs each day, but this intake should be spread evenly throughout your day. Make your choices with carbs healthy ones. Consider these suggestions:
- Low-fat dairy products such as skim milk and light yogurt
- Beans — a cup will give you about 40 grams of carbs
- High-fiber whole fruits like apples, pears, and peaches
- Berries — raspberries have the most carbs
Ideally, you should keep your meals as balanced as possible. Strive for a mix of lean proteins, healthy fats, and an assortment of fruits and veggies. Stay away from sugary snacks and beverages, fried foods, and “empty calorie foods” with little or no nutritional value. If you have trouble putting together a diet that works for you, you may benefit from working with dietician.
Get Regular Exercise
Exercise can help keep your weight under control, which is good for your diabetes. Regular exercise also helps your body use insulin more effectively. While a more strenuous workout is better, milder forms of activity can have similar benefits, such as casual walking, working in the garden, and doing household chores. The general recommendation with exercise is to get at least 30 minutes of sustained activity per day.
Check Your Sugar Regularly
Just because you feel fine doesn’t mean you might not have blood sugar that’s too high or too low. Get into the habit of checking your sugar levels at various times throughout the day. Your doctor will let you know when it’s best for you to test.
Drink plenty of water throughout each day, even at times when you don’t feel thirsty. Stick with the eight, 8-ounces of water per day rule and you should be good. Also, keep a bottle of water with you on hot days when you’re outside or exercising. Water is also beneficial because it helps with your blood sugar levels.
Check Your Feet
Over time, diabetes can minimize your ability to feel pain sensations. Feet are especially susceptible to this type of nerve-related damage. Get into the habit of checking your feet daily for sores, cuts, or areas of tenderness and swelling.
With proper management, it’s entirely possible to reach a point where you significantly reduce your symptoms or entirely reverse your diabetes. Even if this doesn’t happen for you, it’s still possible to enjoy a healthy, productive life with diabetes by carefully monitoring your blood sugar, watching what you eat, and letting your family doctor know about any changes in your symptoms during your regular checkups.