7 Diabetes Challenges—and 7 Solutions

Get simple solutions to some of the toughest issues you might face while managing diabetes.

Health Monitor Staff
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Whether you’ve recently been diagnosed or have been dealing with diabetes for some time, you’ve probably run into these everyday obstacles to good blood sugar control. Here, Laura Cipullo, CDE, RD, offers ways to overcome these hurdles.

Challenge: “It hurts to test my blood sugar.”
This is a problem if it prevents you from testing as often as you should.
Solution: Avoid pricking the tip of your finger.
“This part of your finger has more nerve endings, and can be especially sensitive. Instead, use the side of your finger near the nail bed. Alternating the fingers you test also helps minimize pain.” 

Challenge: “Exercise? Ugh!”
When you barely want to get off the couch—let alone hit the gym—getting those 30 minutes of activity a day can be daunting.
Solution: Anything is better than nothing. 
“Break your exercise into 5- or 10-minute increments—take a walk around the block or exercise during commercials. Sometimes, just getting started means you’ll continue for longer than you anticipated.” 

Challenge: “I’ll never be able to get my blood sugar perfectly controlled.”
It can be frustrating when an “off day” throws your blood sugar out of whack.
Solution: Test your blood sugar regularly.
“That can help you understand what threw you off and help you get back on track. And instead of focusing on perfection, develop realistic goals and think long term—if you can’t, your goals may be too rigid.” 

Challenge: “I just don’t like ‘healthy’ foods!”
It’s too easy to give up when you feel your food choices are restricted.
Solution: Eat foods you enjoy.
“Treat the way you eat as a lifestyle, not a diet, and you’ll be more successful at finding low-sugar, unprocessed foods you actually like. Stay motivated by trying new things; just test your sugar before and after to see how you’re affected.” 

Challenge: “I eat out often.”
Dining out can be a problem if you order “blind.” That essentially gives the cook free rein over your blood sugar!
Solution: Order wisely. 
“Know which foods—including healthy ones—contain carbohydrates. One of my patients didn’t understand why his blood sugar was soaring—he was drinking fruit smoothies every day at lunch, but didn’t realize that fruit contains a lot of carbs.” 

Challenge: “I love sweets.”
If cake or candy is your middle name, you can’t envision living without it forever!
Solution: Be accountable.
“You don’t need to permanently give up sweets. Rather than feel deprived, plan your piece of cake or chocolate into that particular day’s carbohydrate count.” 

Challenge: “My loved ones aren’t always supportive.”
When family and friends serve unhealthy food, it can feel like sabotage.
Solution: Be straight.
“Tell them ‘I’m trying my best to eat healthy, but I really need your help to be successful.’ Then offer compromises, such as making mac ’n cheese with whole-wheat pasta and mixing in fresh vegetables.”

April 2013