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Categories > Diabetes > Living with diabetes

Dealing with a diabetes diagnosis
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Learning you have diabetes changes your life—and your lifestyle. Your most important job will be to keep your blood sugar, or glucose, within target ranges. To control your blood sugar and stay well, take these measures:

  1. Test your blood sugar. Use a portable glucose meter to test your blood sugar level several times a day. Your healthcare provider will help pinpoint your target ranges, but most people with diabetes aim for blood sugar levels between 90 mg/dL and 130 mg/dL before meals and no higher than 180 mg/dL an hour or two after eating. Your levels indicate whether your meal plan, activities or any medications you take are working. Your healthcare provider will tell you how often and when to test, such as before and after eating, after taking medication and before going to bed.
  2. Upgrade your diet. A healthful diet will help control your blood glucose and weight. Plan meals that are based on whole-grain foods, vegetables and fruit; low in fat (especially saturated and trans fats); and moderate in salt and sugar. Divide your plate into quarters: one quarter for whole grains such as brown rice, another quarter for protein like fish or skinless poultry and the remaining half for nonstarchy vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes and carrots. Add a small glass of nonfat milk and a piece of fruit.
  3. Get moving. Exercise is a must. It helps you control glucose levels, maintain a healthy weight, lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol. Your doctor may even be able to lower your dose of insulin or other medications. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity on most days. Walking is an easy way to start. Get a pedometer to count the steps you take. Try to total at least 10,000 steps (about five miles) a day.
  4. Focus on your feet. Because diabetes damages nerves and reduces circulation, you may feel less sensation in your feet and find wounds slow to heal, making your feet vulnerable to uncontrolled infection. Invest in comfortable, quality shoes and check your feet daily for cuts, blisters, sores, redness or ingrown toenails. Seek immediate medical care for any foot problem.
  5. Treat yourself well. Take any medications prescribed by your healthcare provider as directed. Quit smoking, get adequate rest, practice ways to relieve stress and nurse yourself with extra TLC when you’re sick. Get an annual flu shot and ask your healthcare provider whether you should get the vaccine to prevent pneumonia. If you’re over age 64 and your last pneumococcal vaccine was more than five years ago, you’ll need another.
  6. See healthcare providers more often. At least once or twice a year, see your primary provider for a checkup and tests to measure your glucose control, blood pressure, cholesterol and kidney function. See an eye professional and podiatrist for yearly exams and visit your dentist twice a year for a cleaning and checkup.