Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, these tips from top health professionals will make this the year you get your symptoms under control.
Set a regular bedtime.
“Patients with diabetes who report poor sleep habits often have higher hemoglobin A1C values,” says K.K. Rajamani, MD, medical director of the Unity Diabetes Center in Rochester, NY—and that’s a diabetes no-no. Having a set lights-out hour every night is key to keeping your sleep schedule regular, which will provide more predictability in blood sugar patterns.
Set aside at least 10 minutes of “me time.”
Manage your stress, manage your symptoms. Why? “Stress is an exacerbating factor that can make diabetes worse,” says Dr. Rajamani. “Hormones produced as a result of stress may raise blood sugars and contribute to uncontrolled diabetes.” That’s why finding a few moments to bliss out in a way that works for you—meditating, doing a Sudoku puzzle, going for a walk—is key. So set aside time for yourself every day if you can. Hey, it’s for your health!
Eat foods that you like.
Folks with diabetes often get caught up on the foods they know they should eat but can’t seem to stomach. So instead, advises Marc Sandberg, MD, medical director of the Center for Nutrition and Diabetes Management and Endocrine Associates of Hunterdon Medical Center in Flemington, NJ, focus on eating healthy low-sugar items that aren’t full of processed or artificial ingredients that you actually like. And feel free to prepare your usual favorites differently—say, with less sugar, fat and carbs. But Dr. Sandberg warns, “Check your sugar two hours after eating to see how the new version affects you.”
Beginning an exercise regimen can seem daunting. “Most recommendations focus on 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week, but if you’re someone who hasn’t exercised in a while, that can seem impossible,” says Sheri Setser-Legg, RD, diabetes nutrition educator at the Barnstable Brown Kentucky Diabetes and Obesity Center in Lexington, KY. Instead, find ways to move, even for just a couple of minutes every hour. “Dance around while you fold laundry, stand up instead of sitting while you answer phone messages or do leg lifts while doing the dishes. We all have numerous pockets of time throughout the day when we can be more physically active!”