9 Tips to Organize Your Diabetes Management
Counting carbs. Testing blood sugar. Remembering to take your medication or insulin. When you have diabetes, managing your condition can be a juggling act.
“Having diabetes is like owning a pet — it’s something that you must take care of every day, and being organized prevents it from becoming a burden,” says Sara Daly, 44, a physical therapist in Middlebury, Vermont, who has also been managing type 1 diabetes for more than 30 years. “Being mindful about self-care allows you to feel good, which then allows success in any area of your life.”
Diabetes Management: Strategies to Stay Organized
Streamlining and organizing your diabetes need-to-do list can help you add more want-to-dos into your daily routine. Start with these tips to help you stay on track:
1. Set your mornings to music.Make a playlist of a few songs you really enjoy and wake up to it in the morning, says Susan Weiner, RDN, CDE, a dietitian and certified diabetes educator in New York and co-author ofThe Complete Diabetes Organizer: Your Guide to a Less Stressful and More Manageable Diabetes Life. “When the first song is playing, check your blood sugar or your continuous glucose monitor if you wear one,” she suggests. Strive to finish that task before the song ends. Then when the next song starts, move to your next morning task, she adds.
2. Create an exercise schedule.Working out at the same time every day will help you identify how exercise affects your blood sugar — which can help you plan for blood sugar highs and lows, says Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, a certified diabetes educator in private practice in New York and New Jersey and author ofThe Diabetes Comfort Food Diet.
3. Make taking meds easy.“I like to suggest clients leave oral medication out in plain view to help remind them to take it every day,” says Lori Zanini, RD, CDE, a certified diabetes educator in Manhattan Beach, California. Make sure your medication routine is easy to follow and works with your schedule. If you think it’s too complicated, let your doctor know; he or she may have a simplified solution for you, she adds.
4. Be clutch.“I store my glucose meter, lancets, and test strips in a black wristlet purse," Daly says. “It’s easy to find and it looks trendy when I have to take it out to use in public, and I can easily put my phone and cards in it when I go out.”
5. Embrace technology.A shared online calendar allows you to put all of your information in one place — appointments, medication expiration dates, lab tests — and share it with your family members, Zanini says. Some online calendars also make it easy to put your blood sugar results and simply print it out and bring it with you to doctor checkups, she adds.
6. Prepare for ‘lows’.Buy a supply of glucose tablets and put them in key places so you can get to them quickly if your blood sugar dips, Daly says. She keeps some in her tennis bag, workspace, glove compartment, bedside table, and travel bag.
7. Cook smart.Take stock of what you already have in the house, decide what you want to eat for the week, and then head out to the grocery store, Zanini says. Choose one day a week to prepare meals, pack food in portion-sized containers, and freeze them, suggests Pam Brisky, RD, CDE, clinical nutrition manager at the Augusta University Health System in Georgia. “Thaw [the next day’s meal] the night before or in the morning so your dinner is ready to heat and eat when you get home.” If your mornings are hectic, pack a breakfast the night before that you can grab-and-go, she adds.
8. De-stress.Stress can make managing diabetes harder. Stressed-out people sometimes skip exercise, drink too much, and ditch their diabetes diet, according to the American Diabetes Association. Plus, stress hormones may affect your blood sugar levels directly, too. Take time to relax and de-stress every day, Brisky says. “Practice mindfulness, being aware of yourself, your surroundings, and your choices,” she adds. Seek help if you’re feeling overwhelmed, she advises.
9. Do a self-check.Save a few minutes each night for a health check. Start by examining your feet for cracks, cuts, and skin quality, says Cipullo.
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