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Living Well With Diabetes

Senior man on his mountain bike outdoors

You don’t get really good at dealing with diabetes overnight. But over time, you’ll figure out how to go from getting it done to taking it in stride. See if any of these tips are familiar (or worth trying!).

Remember when you first found out you had diabetes and learned the basics of taking care of yourself?

  • Make and eat healthy food.
  • Be active most days.
  • Test your blood sugar often.
  • Take medicines as prescribed, even if you feel good.
  • Learn ways to manage stress.
  • Cope with the emotional side of diabetes.
  • Go to checkups.

One way or another, you’ve had to try to make it all fit with family, work, school, holidays, and everything else in your life. Here’s our short list of tips to help – you’re probably familiar with many, but some may be new (feel free to use!).

Eat Well

  • Take the time to cook. You’re not saving time by sitting in the drive-thru anyway.
  • Look online for budget-friendly, easy-to-make recipes. Many are so good you’ll want to eat right out of the pan.
  • Write down or take photos of all your meals and snacks. This one trick makes you much more aware of everything you eat and helps you stay in control.
  • You can’t go wrong with veggies. Take a free online cooking class to learn the secrets of making them taste delicious.
  • Skip “diabetic” foods. They often cost more than “regular” food, and they don’t taste very good anyway.
  • Make the same food for you and your family. Healthy eating for everyone!
  • Try Meatless Monday (or any day of the week). Beans and lentils are cheap, tasty, and really good for you.
  • Make family favorites with a twist: substitute veggies for some of the rice or pasta, or blend veggies until smooth and add to sauces.

Learn more about healthy eating.

Be Active

  • Exercise is still one of the best tools for managing diabetes, and it’s free!
  • Break a sweat regularly, but also find little ways to be active throughout the day, like climbing stairs and walking.
  • Work out with a friend. You’re more likely to stick with it because you won’t want to let them down.
  • Try an activity tracker (many apps are free). It’s very motivating to watch your steps add up.
  • Check out all the online workout videos. There’s something for everyone, at every level of fitness.

Learn more about getting active.

Healthy chicken and veggie salad

Menu ideas, cooking videos, and thousands of recipes are just a few clicks away.

Manage Stress

  • Try meditation or yoga to slow down and relax. Choose from thousands of free videos online to get started.
  • Get moving! Taking a walk can help you unwind, and the effect can last for hours.
  • Call or make plans to get together with a friend who understands you.

Learn more about diabetes and mental health.

Do Things You Can Keep Doing

  • For new habits, start small. Little successes make it easier to take on bigger goals.
  • Make goals specific. Instead of “I’m going to get in shape,” think “I’m going to walk after dinner on weekdays.”
  • Make good choices easier. Stick to just one or two healthy breakfast options, bring your lunch instead of buying, leave the dog’s leash by the door.

Keep Learning

Diabetes self-management education and support services can help you learn skills to manage diabetes when you’re first diagnosed, and at these other key times as well:

  • During checkups with your doctor.
  • When a new event or health problem affects how you take care of yourself.
  • When any other big life event, like changing your job or home, affects your diabetes care.

Ask your doctor to recommend a diabetes educator, or search the American Association of Diabetes Educators’ nationwide directory for a list of educators in your community.

See the Big Picture

What’s most important to you? Being fit for yourself and your family? Having fun? Having energy? Everything you do to take care of yourself gives you more of what matters most. Here’s to making diabetes a part of life instead of life being all about diabetes!

  • Page last reviewed: October 17, 2018
  • Page last updated: October 17, 2018
  • Content source:
  • Maintained By:
    • National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Diabetes Translation
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