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Maintaining good diabetes management habits

It's all about taking small steps to improve health.

To say there is a lot going on right now would be an understatement, right? Times like these make it harder to take care of ourselves, with our minds on so many other things. But taking care of yourself is important to stay healthy and safe, especially if you are living with diabetes. Here are ideas on how to do just that.

Start where you are and build good diabetes management habits with small steps. Below are strategies for caring for yourself, with examples of small goals that can, over time, add up to better diabetes management. Pick one at a time and pace yourself!

Be mindful of your food choices as often as you can. Eat slowly and pay attention to the colors and flavors on your plate. This practice allows us the time to appreciate our food, as well as recognize our level of fullness or hunger. Adding non-starchy vegetables to your plate is another good strategy to care for yourself and manage blood sugar. Non-starchy veggies do not cause blood sugar spikes and make us feel fuller and for a longer time. Try adding one cup of non-starchy veggies (fresh, frozen, or canned) to three meals per week (even if those meals are take-out).

Get sleep and practice good sleep hygiene. Lack of sleep can cause blood glucose to rise. Sleep in a cool, dark room that is quiet. Turn electronics and screens off an hour before bed. Do some deep breathing as you are getting ready for bed, or when you first lay down. Try going to bed one hour earlier two nights per week.

Be aware of your stress and find things that help bring your stress level down. Stress, like poor sleep, causes blood sugar to go up. Stepping outside to look at the beautiful blue sky, looking at family photos, or hugging a pet may seem like simple things, but strategies like these, practiced daily, can have a beneficial effect on stress and blood sugar levels. Make a list of activities that bring you joy and peace and would reduce stress; do one of those activities one time per week.

Incorporate standing up every 60 minutes or other activity into your day. Any activity you can get, whether it is standing, walking across the room, or doing chair yoga will benefit your blood sugar. When you are watching TV or reading or working, set a timer on the kitchen stove for 60 minutes to break up the inactivity.

Reach out for support, whether from a family member, a friend or someone on your health care team. Talk about your diabetes and your challenges and successes with managing it. Call or text a friend or family member once a week.

Check blood glucose. This strategy will be different for each person. Some people check every day, some people check once or twice a week, and others have not been instructed to check blood glucose at all. If you are not currently checking BG, talk to your provider about getting started. If you are currently checking, try checking one more time per week, or checking two hours after one meal to see how the food from that meal affected your glucose.

Remember to give yourself a pat on the back for taking the small steps to take care of yourself. Celebrate your successes and acknowledge how you feel. And when you’re ready, add another small step.