Hearing the news from the doctor that you have diabetes can seem alarming. You were just enjoying your chocolate-covered pancake yesterday, and now your world is topsy-turvy.
If you have diabetes, then starting a new journey can be tiring and something out of the scope of your everyday lifestyle. However, it doesn’t have to be like that if you know how to take care of yourself.
First, asking medical professionals, family members, and close friends to support you on your path to a healthier you is what you need to keep moving forward. Besides asking for support, you need to adopt healthier habits to prevent any further complications.
1. Don’t Smoke
Smoking doesn’t only affect your lungs but also your heart. It increases your blood pressure and causes your blood vessels to narrow. The reduction in blood flow in the legs and feet can lead to infections, ulcers, and possibly surgical removal of a body part.
Reduced blood flow and nerve damage to body parts, including your eyes, can cause eye disease or blindness. Smoking also cuts off years from your life, and if you were to die naturally at 80, your risk of dying at 70 would increase every time you light up a cigarette.
Talk to your doctor to think of ways to quit smoking for good by finding healthier distractions like exercise or snacking on fruits and seeds if you feel bored.
2. Keep Your Cholesterol in Check
Like diabetes, high cholesterol is of great concern since the damage is often worse and quicker when you have diabetes. When cholesterol and diabetes team up, they can cause a heart attack, stroke, or other life-threatening health problems.
Eating a healthy, low-fat, low sugar diet and exercising regularly can go a long way toward controlling your cholesterol. Choose more whole grains like whole-wheat bread and legumes like chickpeas, lentils, and green beans. And avoid eating too much red meat, dairy, and fried food.
If your cholesterol levels are too high, your doctor may also recommend taking prescription medication if need be.
3. Get Checked at the Doctor Regularly
Try to schedule at least two to four checkups a year, in addition to your yearly physical and routine eye exams.
Your doctor will ask about your eating habits and activity level during the physical exam. And also, look for any diabetes-related complications such as kidney damage, nerve damage, or heart disease.
An eye care specialist will also check for retinal damage, cataracts, and glaucoma to prevent future eye problems.
4. Pay Close Attention to Your Feet
Diabetes can cause pain, tingling, or loss of sensation in your feet. High blood sugar levels can reduce blood flow and damage the nerves in your feet. If left untreated, cuts and blisters can develop and lead to severe infections.
Consider washing your feet daily in lukewarm water. And don’t soak your feet, as this can cause dry skin. Remember to dry your feet gently, especially between the toes, since dry blisters might be present there.
When you moisturize your feet and ankles, use lotion or petroleum jelly. Don’t put oils or creams between your toes since the extra moisture can result in infection. Do a daily checkup on your feet to ensure no calluses, blisters, sores, redness, or swelling.
Sores might develop into ulcers. Ulcers are formed due to the continuous breakdown of skin tissue which exposes the layers underneath. Diabetes is the most common cause of foot ulcers.
If you notice painful sores on the ball of your foot, your doctor might recommend buying insoles for diabetics. These insoles will help ease the pain and let you walk more comfortably.
5. Drink Responsibly
Habitual drinking can further affect your blood sugar levels. Alcohol causes your liver to shift its role from reducing blood sugar to breaking down and getting rid of alcohol.
With your blood-sugar already high, alcohol will only make things worse for your body. If you like to drink beer occasionally, ensure that you don’t consume more than one glass every other day.
Though people say that wine is good for the heart, remember it’s still an alcoholic beverage. Hence, you need to ensure you don’t pass the limit of your recommended dose.
6. Control your Stress
If you find that work has taken a toll on you this past week, make sure you take a breather every other day.
Before starting your day, you can do some stretching exercises for 10 minutes to get the blood flowing into your brain and other body parts. This will give you the needed boost of energy and oxygen to get started with your day.
Alternatively, you can fit some exercises after you’re done with your work. Download a beginner’s fitness app that includes multiple activities and doesn’t take too much of your precious time. You can follow the instructions and exercise without needing additional equipment. Just buy a yoga mat, and you’re set!