Life with diabetes can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many simple ways to stay on top of your health while being diabetic. By being proactive and taking care of your health, you can reduce the risk of health problems caused by diabetes such as heart disease, strokes and kidney disease. Here are just a few steps you can take to ensure you have a happy and healthy life!
Natural Ways to Stay Healthy
Eating well and being active can reduce risk of illness and depression. Consuming more calories than you burn will cause the food you eat to turn into fat, which makes your body less sensitive to insulin. This can cause your blood sugar levels to rise. In order to avoid increasing your blood sugar levels, it’s important to eat healthy and engage in regular physical activity. In particular, you should avoid/eliminate saturated and trans fats and sugars. Create a plan for increasing physical activity that fits your lifestyle and that you can maintain. It doesn’t have to be physically exhaustive, because they key is to make small changes that are long-term. For example, walking to nearby places instead of taking the car, or engaging in some simple exercises.
Getting into a Routine
Getting into a routine makes it easier to manage everything you need to keep track of. Make sure you are routinely keeping up to date with health checks, medications, and looking after yourself. Here are a few things to incorporate into your routine:
1. Be proactive
- Tracking your glucose levels. Very low/high glucose can be a risk to your health. Monitor by testing your blood glucose using your glucose monitor.
- Getting your flu shots and pneumonia vaccine. A yearly flu shot can help prevent getting sick and keep you healthy. For those over 65, make sure you have had the pneumonia vaccine.
- Take medications as prescribed. Stay on top of your medication scheduling by using a medication schedule. Remember to take your medication even if you’re feeling well and let your doctor know of any side effects.
2. Keep track of follow-ups/checkups
Make sure you are regularly visiting the doctor to keep track of your:
- Blood pressure (check it every time you see your healthcare provider)
- Cholesterol (get a blood test done at least once a year)
- Kidneys (blood test and urine test once a year)
- Cancer screenings (ask your doctor what screenings you need based on your age, gender, etc.) 
3. Care for yourself
- Brush and floss daily and get your teeth and gums checked twice a year
- Protect your skin by washing it daily and avoiding dryness. Also make sure to take care of any cuts and bruises to prevent infections.
- Examine your feet for red patches, sores, blisters, infections or any other abnormalities. If you notice anything, see a podiatrist.
- Stop smoking. Smoking increases the risk for many health problems such as heart attack and stroke by three times.
Taking care of your mental health
Many people with diabetes, especially older adults, are at a higher risk for depression. Symptoms include sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, loneliness, irritability, decreased energy or loss of interest. All depression can be treated, and if you feel any of these symptoms, make sure to make an appointment with your doctor. Below we have outlined the process for treating mental illnesses such as depression and/or anxiety.
- Physical evaluation: your doctor may first look at other possible reasons for symptoms by doing a physical exam, interview or lab tests. If there is no medical condition that could be causing your symptoms, they will move onto a psychological evaluation.
- Psychological evaluation: this may be done by your healthcare provider or mental health professional and is an evaluation of your mental health to determine a potential diagnosis and treatment plan.
- Treatment: the most common forms of treatment for depression and/or anxiety are medication and psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy.
- Medication: you may be prescribed antidepressants, which help treat depression by improving the way your brain uses certain chemicals that control mood or stress.
- Psychotherapy: involves regular interaction and communication with a mental health professional to help change behaviour. There are many kinds of methods used, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, interpersonal therapy and problem-solving therapy.
In conclusion, diabetes does not have to hold you back from anything. You can still live a long, healthy and happy life by taking these extra steps to stay on top of your well-being. Visit our guide on dietetics for more information on living healthy and eating right!