Diabetes changes your life, but it doesn’t need to ruin it. There’s a lot you can do to improve your life with diabetes just by changing routines at home. And yes, those routines might look a little different than before diabetes, but it’s all achievable. Here’s what you need to do:
Adopt good medication habits
Not everyone with Type 2 diabetes needs medication to manage the illness, but it’s not uncommon to have a few in your treatment plan. And as prescriptions add up, the instructions can become dizzying. Some medications have to be taken once per day, others twice or more, some must be taken with food or liquid, and certain medications are injected rather than taken orally.
Sort medications into a reminder system like a pill dispenser ahead of time so you can’t forget or double up on a dose. The best pill boxes let you separate by morning, afternoon, evening, and bedtime, and if you need the extra help, some even have built-in alarms. Johns Hopkins also recommends getting refills before you need them and and filling all your prescriptions at the same pharmacy.
Follow a meal plan
Whether you’re counting carbohydrates or watching your waistline, nutrition is central to any diabetes management plan. It’s important for people with diabetes to understand how food choices affect their blood sugar. For people with Type 1 diabetes, that means calculating insulin dosage based on the carbs they eat, but if you have Type 2, it’s a little more complicated.
Since many people with Type 2 diabetes don’t take insulin, they have to keep their blood sugar in check through diet. Often, there’s also weight to be lost. Making good choices is harder in the moment, so follow a meal plan to simplify your eating. While everyone’s diabetes meal plan will look different, the Diabetes Institute at the University of Florida recommends building it around lean fish and poultry, whole fruits and fresh vegetables, and carb sources that are low on the Glycemic Index, like beans, whole grains, and starchy vegetables.
Get active in a home gym
The common advice is to eat well and exercise for a reason. Exercise helps people with diabetes reduce their weight, keep long-term complications at bay, and generally be healthier. Being active also reduces blood sugar and counteracts insulin resistance, making it easier for people with Type 2 to manage their diabetes without insulin.
Since it’s common to be overweight or obese when you’re diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, fitness might not come easy right away. Setting up a home gym is a good way to make progress at your own pace, and you can do a lot with just a few pieces of equipment. A beginner can get started with nothing but sneakers for walking, resistance bands for strength training, and a yoga mat for flexibility work and a comfortable surface.
Monitor your blood glucose
When you have diabetes, you need to check your blood sugar regularly to keep it within the target range specified by your doctor. Regular monitoring also lets you identify which home management methods are working for you. For example, if your blood sugar consistently reads lower after incorporating daily walks into your regimen, you know that exercise is working and are more motivated to continue.
Unless you have a continuous blood glucose monitor, you’ll need to test your blood sugar several times each day with a meter. People with Type 1 diabetes may test their blood sugar four to eight times per day, while people with Type 2 might only check once or twice per day. Follow your doctor’s recommendations for frequency, and after each test, record the date, time, and reading in a logbook so changes can you can share any changes.
Having diabetes will certainly add a thing or two to your to-do list, and changing habits is always challenging. However, making the necessary changes at home will pay off many times over in better health now and down the road.