Ten Tips for Diabetic Success

1 Educate yourself. You will feel much more confident managing your diabetes if you arm yourself with the knowledge needed to take care of your health. Consider making a healthy cooking class for inspiration, learn how to read food labels, or hire a personal trainer to jump-start your exercise program.

2 Find your mantra. Maria Robinson says, “Nobody can go back and start from the beginning, but anyone can start today and make a happy ending.” Mantras both uplift you and keep you motivated. If work is difficult because food is always around or your coworkers or friends aren’t supportive of your diabetes requirements, repeat you’re a positive affirmation to keep you grounded.

3 Plan ahead, even just one day. If you set a goal to plan meals and snacks in advance, you won’t be spontaneously tempted to choose unhealthy foods throughout the day. Planning will also ensure that you eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day and stay within your carbohydrate goals.

4 Go slowly. Making positive changes to your diet and lifestyle will take time, and setbacks will happen. Don’t aim for perfection, rather focus on a little better, a little more. Don’t let a splurge or missed exercise session become an excuse to give up. When you get off track, clean the slate and start fresh.

5 Use the buddy system. Finding other people with similar goals can greatly improve your success with diabetes management. Find a local diabetes support group to enlist the help and learn while forming new friendships.

6 Think of water as a food group. Being dehydrated can cause tiredness, low energy, and headaches, and thirst is often mistaken for hunger. Carry a water bottle during the day and aim to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses each day.

7 Make exercise a daily habit. Aim to be active for at least 10 minutes every day. Set your alarm 10 minutes earlier so you can walk around the block before you head to work. If you like TV, set up a treadmill in front of it so you can watch and walk. Think of exercise like you do brushing your teeth: do it every day.

8 Eat mindfully. Healthy eating is more than the food on your plate. It is also about how you think about food in general. Good eating habits can be learned. Slow down and think of food as nourishment rather than something to just gulp and run.

9 Check portion sizes. Even if you’ve been living with diabetes for years, check your portion know-how occasionally. Remember, carb amounts are based on specific serving sizes. So measure a serving of cereal or a 4-ounce glass of juice to see what a serving really looks like. Consider using smaller plates to keep portions in check.

10 Create a healthy plate. Fill half of your plate with colorful vegetables and fruits, one quarter with lean protein, and one quarter with high-fiber, unrefined complex carbohydrates. Eat more beans, dark green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, sweet potatoes, berries, whole grains, fish high in omega-3 fats, nuts, and nonfat dairy products.