I thought I’d introduce myself on Diabetes Strong with a post giving my top tips for living with diabetes! Now, there are probably HUNDREDS I could write and I think it would be a fantastic idea if you could leave your top tip below in the comments to help those reading this pick up on something new which they may not have thought about before!
My Top 20 Tips for Living with Diabetes
1) If in doubt, test.
2) Rotate where you injection daily to avoid scar tissue building up. Choosing where you inject has an influence on how quickly insulin enters the bloodstream. If you keep using the same spot, you’ll create a buildup and a slowdown in absorption.
3) Always have a backup. Back up insulin, back up testing strips, back up needles, back up hypo-treatment – especially at work or school and in your sports bag. You’ll never know when you might need them.
4) Find people who can support you. This is your disease, but you don’t have to suffer with it alone. Find professionals, friends, spouses and/or family to lean on when you need them. Even if it’s just to chat through things to get them clearer in your own mind.
5) If you need to take some time to recover from a hypo or treat high blood glucose, do not be afraid to do so. The right people will understand. “No” sometimes is a very powerful word and using it at the right time can let others know something isn’t quite right. Don’t be scared to use it if you’re not up to doing something. The right people in your life will get it.
6) Educate yourself as much as you can. Read, listen, watch and try to remember as much as you can. Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are complicated diseases, the more you know, the better your self-management will be. Understand the warning signs and preventative measures you can take to keep everything as plain sailing as possible.
7) Talk. Diabetes is as much a mental strain as it is a physical one. Build up a good relationship with your specialist and doctors, as they’re the ones who are trained and paid to help you. Learn from them, they usually have a wealth of knowledge and experience. If you find them unhelpful, ask to change. It’s your health and if things don’t quite click between you and them, don’t be afraid to try and find someone who you connect with better.
8) Wash and dry your hands before testing blood sugar levels. Clean, dry skin allows the most accurate testing. It only takes a few seconds and can prevent a hypo.
9) Carb-count. It’s so incredibly useful. Learn and adjust insulin levels according to the amount of carbs you have. Most specialists I’ve spoken to start with 1 unit of insulin for every 10g carbs for their newly diagnosed diabetics. Go from there.
10) Manage your stress levels. Increasing exercise and adding lean muscle mass are excellent ways of reducing basal insulin requirements.
11) If in doubt, test.
12) Your diabetes is your diabetes. What works for one person may not necessarily work for another. I’m a firm believer that you are the master of your own diabetes management. No-one knows it better than you.
13) Avoid smoking at all costs. Be mindful as well that nicotine patches have the potential to lower blood glucose levels.
14) If going abroad, take a copy of your prescription and a card to notify that you are a diabetic in case of any emergencies. You never know when something can get lost or go wrong.
15) Dispose of your needles carefully. It’s your responsibility and I can’t imagine it’s nice for anyone who might get stabbed with them.
16) Get a solid, fun and sustainable exercise regime in place. Exercise is a massive benefit to anyone with diabetes. Try to carry out 30-45 minutes of exercise 4 times a week. And do something you enjoy be it football, gym, swimming, cycling or brisk walking – whatever works for you and your lifestyle. If you see exercise as a negative thing, it won’t last.
17) The first couple of months are always the hardest. My advice is to keep a pen and paper record of everything you do to get the basics sorted. Once you have the foundations, everything becomes easier. This is especially true if you have a bad few days and need to just resort to the absolute basics to get everything back on track. Knowing what definitely works for you is invaluable sometimes.
18) Learn to love food. It’s an amazing thing and having a positive relationship with food is beneficial physiologically and mentally. Learn to cook, find a few recipes you love and educate yourself on building a well-balanced meal of proteins, carbs, and fats with lots of green veggies. Food is food and food is awesome.
19) Use the diabetic community. You’re not alone. There are plenty of social media platforms and the diabetic online community (#doc) are incredibly supportive. Ask questions and learn from their stories! Everyone started at the beginning with this disease and the vast majority of us want to help as many as we can! (A great group to join is Diabetes Strong’s Facebook community).
20) If in doubt……TEST!
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