By Mikel Theobald Reviewed by Farrokh Sohrabi, MD
Juggling the daily tasks necessary to manage type 2 diabetes can be overwhelming. But this daily diabetes checklist can help simplify your routine.
Managing type 2 diabetes can seem like an endless to-do list of eating healthy, exercising, testing your blood sugar, and taking medications. But by taking some simple steps to control diabetes, you can help prevent or delay serious diabetes-related complications including nerve damage, vision loss, kidney disease, and stroke.
1. Test your blood sugar and record it in a logbook.
Monitoring your blood sugar levels is an important part of managing diabetes. Daily monitoring provides ongoing feedback about your blood sugar levels and diabetes management, says . Use the information to guide your decisions about what to eat and when and how to exercise, and to provide insight into proper medication dosing if you’re on insulin, she adds.
Recording the information in a logbook is vital, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Your logbook becomes a tool that can be used during visits with your doctor to see how well your diabetes management plan is working and to make changes if necessary.
2. Take your medication.
When diet and exercise alone are not able to keep diabetes under control, your doctor may prescribe medication to help with blood sugar management. “It’s important to understand how your diabetes medications work to control blood sugar levels, how to treat low blood sugar if that happens, and how and when to take your medication." Your doctor or a diabetes educator can provide medication scheduling recommendations best suited to you based on your health history.
3. Inspect your feet.
Diabetes can cause a variety of foot problems, such as calluses that can turn into ulcers, poor circulation that can affect your ability to fight infection, and nerve damage, which can cause diminished sensation. Check your feet daily to make sure that there are no wounds, blisters, or other issues. Ordinary problems can turn far more serious if left untreated. And if you have poor circulation or nerve damage, it’s possible to have an injury or infection on your foot without feeling it. Daily inspection allows you to spot problems early and get treatment.
4. Brush and floss your teeth.
High blood sugar levels can impact oral health — uncontrolled blood sugar levels may lead to more plaque buildup and increase the risk for gingivitis and even advanced gum disease. The ADA recommends brushing your teeth for three minutes at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day.
5. Be physically active.
Exercise is great for overall health and helps lower blood sugar levels. “The general recommendation is for 30 minutes at least five times per week. In addition to lowering blood sugar levels, exercise helps improve blood flow, increase energy, reduce the impact of stress, and helps you sleep better, making it essential to put it on your schedule.
6. Eat healthy meals and snacks.
Your blood sugar levels can be directly impacted by what you eat and by the scheduling of meals and snacks. Planning your meals each day, rather than just winging it, can make a difference in your blood sugar readings.
There are several approaches to diabetes meal planning that you can use as a guide to help you eat healthy, including carb counting and using the glycemic index. Alison Massey recommends working with a registered dietitian to get on the right track with food choices and setting up a daily meal and snack schedule.
7. Protect your skin.
Diabetes can wreak havoc on your skin, causing bacterial or fungal infections. Check your body for skin concerns on a daily basis, especially in skin folds such as underarms, between toes, and the groin area. Help protect your skin by keeping it clean and dry. If you notice an injury, even a minor cut, clean it with soap and water. Talk to your doctor if you notice serious injuries to your skin or have a condition you can’t treat on your own.
8. Get a good night’s sleep.
Poor sleep patterns can negatively impact glucose metabolism, according to a study published in April 2014 in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Practicing healthy sleep habits can help you get the sleep your body needs. The National Sleep Foundation recommends going to bed at the same time each evening and waking up at the same time every morning, even on the weekends. Also, engage in a nightly sleep ritual that prepares your body for sleep, such as reading a book or another calming activity that allows your body to wind down. Another way to sleep more soundly is to turn on a white noise machine and close room-darkening curtains. You want to make your bedroom environment as conducive to sleep as possible.
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