As we know diabetes is a progressive disease, to manage diabetes efficiently you must make a practical diabetes care plan to keep it from getting out of hands. If you or your loved one is suffering from diabetes, a diabetes management plan can help you make your life comparatively easy and manageable. In diabetes, our whole body gets affected due to high blood sugar level in our bloodstream. To manage diabetes and prevent complications you must keep regular communication with good health care team who can provide emergency medical support whenever required. It includes your doctors like eye specialist, foot specialist (Podiatrist), heart specialist, dentist and nurses as well as nearest pharmacists, social workers as well as your medical insurance adviser. With a good diabetes care team, it is far more easy to prevent any complication as well as expenses on the treatment and care itself.
With taking good care of diabetes and controlling it, you can lower the chances of getting:
1. Eye disease which can lead to blurred vision or even blindness
3. Heart disease
4. Gum disease and loss of teeth
5. Kidney failure
6. Nerve damage which can result in numbness and tingling sensation in hands and feet
7. Sexual dysfunction in men
So, how do you make a diabetes care plan?
Creating a diabetes care plan, managing diabetes by following it may look like more of a rocket science, but believe me, it isn’t. Once you have created a practical diabetes care plan based on your diabetic condition and instructions given by your health care team, it gets easy to follow it day by day. Let’s start making a basic action plan to follow which can be altered for you as needed:
1. Learn and educate yourself about your diabetes:
This may look like a very normal thing but it isn’t. Knowing more about your type of diabetes and it’s condition can help you in some serious situations. Knowing common symptoms of diabetes and precautions that can save many complications along the way. Many people who have diabetes do not know, what type of diabetes they have, what symptoms they are seeing but not noticing, so when a complication occurs it could get worse before you they can go to doctors to check it out. Learn about blood glucose tests, what precautions you must take before your next checkup and test. Educating yourself about diabetes is very good way to have an upper hand over diabetes and frankly, as you are reading this, I admire you for doing it even if you are doing for yourself or your love one, it’s really great!
2. Keep your diabetes in check: In diabetes, it is very important to keep it in check by monitoring blood glucose level, symptoms and medication. You must:
• visit your health care team regularly.
• make sure your condition is stable and the treatment is working. If you find any complication, health issue, talk to your doctor about it and make a change as per his advice to solve the issue.
• talk to your family members, friends, neighbors or co-workers for help when you need it. You don’t need to hold back, just have to ask. With a helping hand this journey against diabetes can be far more easy than being alone and doing everything on your own.
3. Control your diabetes: Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to some serious life threatening complications and that’s why getting control over diabetes is a very important goal. It’s the only way to prevent further complications. Make a checklist to ensure you are doing everything as per advice of your doctors, pharmacist, dietitian and health care provider. Making a checklist gives you better control over your test schedule, self monitoring, better meals and over all a good caringpush to yourself.
You can make some checklists to keep track of some specific tasks, questions, daily or weekly visit plans and tick off every time you complete the task. For an example, before going to visit your doctor, you can make a checklist like this:
A. I talked to health care team about:
• my current ABC numbers (A1C test, Blood pressure level, Cholesterol level)
• how to improve my ABC numbers
• my special needs to control the diabetes
• physical therapy and daily exercises
• aspirin therapy to prevent heart problems
• emergency situations
B. I learned from my health care team about:
• how to check my blood glucose levels by myself
• taking my medicines as prescribed
• creating a healthy meal plan and follow it
• checking my feet every day
4. Create a healthy diet plan: Following a well balanced diet plan can help you manage in many ways. It helps you maintain your body weight, cholesterol levels and fat. A healthy and well digestive diet means more energy, less fatigue and overall much positive lifestyle because your body doesn’t require to use extra energy to digest the meal and make energy out of it. In some cases, It can even reduce your insulin requirement significantly. Losing 10 to 15% weight along with healthy diet can effectively keep your blood sugar levels and diabetes in check and give you a healthy positive lifestyle.
So, how do you create a healthy diet plan?
• Best way to do it is meeting with a dietitian who specializes in helping people with specific conditions like yourself as a diabetic. A good dietitian can help you create a custom made healthy diet plan which you can follow easily which is even good and likeable to your family as well and easy enough to purchase and make yourself at home.
• Tell your dietitian clearly about any food allergy you may have and any specific medication your are taking for any other health condition. It is very important so your dietitian can work around these specific issues and can create the best diet plan for you.
• Include well digestive high fiber ingredients into your meals which can help you reduce blood sugar level spikes after the meals. Less blood sugar level spikes mean less discomfort, less fatigue and positive mood after meals.
• Ask the dietitian and your doctor, how much carbohydrates, protein and fat you need to incorporate into your meals daily and how can you interchange them in meals to keep the diet plan fresh and enjoyable.
• Decide your feeding times for the whole day. Divide whole day into 2-3 hours and fix time for each meal or snacks. You must understand that eating 5-6 times a small portion is far much better than eating a lot of in 2-3 times. Eating well portioned small meal helps you maintain your blood sugar level, cholesterol level and energy levels. Taking meals and in between snacks at the same time everyday makes it easy to follow the diet successfully. Support your meal intervals with water or sugar less drinks regularly to keep your body hydrated which is very important.
• Don’t forget to check your blood sugar level before and after meals, as per your doctor’s instructions.
• Encourage your family members to join you in the diet plan. Since you have diabetes, following a healthy diet plan can help them too in preventing diabetes.
• If your love one has diabetes, you should join in on their healthy diet plan to encourage them to stick to it and let them feel that they are not alone. Sometimes following a restrictive diet plan can be overwhelming when seeing others enjoying other foods. Joining in completely or occasionally their healthy meals can boost the moral and positivity in all of your lives.
• Learn some good recipes and interchange ingredients with more healthy ones as suggested by your dietitian to keep your diet plan healthy and tasty at the same time.
5. Create a workout plan: Creating a regular workout plan is very important where weight is an issue. Losing 10 to 15% weight can significantly improve your blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Physical activity in diabetes is necessary to keep the body parts working without any complications like overweight, bed sores due to non-activity. And top of that, adding a good workout routine to your diabetes care plan will energize your lifestyle as well.
When you exercise, you sweat, sweating helps clearing skin pores which helps keeping your skin infections and rash free as well. Exercising helps your cardiovascular system and pumps more oxygen to your lungs and bloodstream which helps your body cells to generate energy efficiently and a good blood flow to your heart.
30 minutes to 1 hour daily workout can help you maintain 50% your diabetes and other 50% can be maintained by healthy diet plan and proper medication. So, it’s not impossible or very hard to overcome diabetes, you just have to have the commitment and positivity to do What needs to be done! You need to give a caring push!
So, how to create a workout routine?
• Workout routine doesn’t mean that you have to join a gym and start weight lifting, not at all. A workout routine means regular physical activity which can be as simple as walking in your garden or park for 30 minutes in the morning but daily. If you have more stamina you can try jogging, cycling, playing badminton, tennis or any other sports you like. Even doing your daily household work can be a great workout if done carefully as an exercise and it surely can be fun, it just needs to be regular and consistent.
• Making a chart or checklist of your routine for the week is the best way to follow a workout routine. Make some goals as well to achieve and tick off that once you get there. It will give visible proof of what you achieved while sticking to your workout routine. You can even reward yourself to appreciate your commitment when you complete a week’s routine without any gaps like a movie show, a favorite meal, a dress or an accessory etc.
• Bring in your family members or friends into your workout routine. Doing workout with a partner or in group can help you achieve desired results more efficiently and can make the whole workout more engaging.
• It’s very important to keep yourself hydrated. So, keep your water bottle or sugar free drink close, in case you need it.
• Keep some snacks with you as well which contains fast acting carbohydrates in case your blood sugar level drops when exercising, it’s very important. It can be a chocolate or drink, ask your doctor about fast acting carbohydrates requirement in case you need it.
• Monitor your blood sugar levels before and after, as recommended by your physician.
6. Check your feet regularly: Keeping your feet clean and secure is important as much as healthy diet, workout and medication. In diabetes, your feet can suffer from sores, infections, deep wounds and even amputation in worst case scenario due to nerve damage. Even a small cut can cause serious complications if left untreated and that goes for your hands or skin too. Your blood cells looses it’s self healing ability when high sugar levels are present in blood resulting cuts and wounds don’t heal quickly as normally happens.
So, how to care feet properly?
• You can start by carefully checking your feet daily. See, if there is any rash, spots or any unusual feeling you have. If there are any sores, no matter how small it looks, visit your doctor for proper treatment.
• Keep your feet clean and dry as much as you can.
• Apply skin lotion or antiseptic creams whenever necessary. Use lotion and creams based on your skin type and season.
• Always wear clean and comfortable soft socks that can provide additional cushion and safety to feet. Change or remove your socks timely to dry sweat and humidity, prevent infections and bad odor.
• When doing workout specially like walking, jogging, running, wear shoes with comfort cushions to prevent any sores, unwanted sprains.
• Keep your nails trimmed and clean to prevent any nails cuts, flipped nail and fungus. Keeping your nails trimmed also helps reduces scratching itching skin and rash. No long nails – no unwanted scratching.
7. Keep your medication in check: Taking your prescribed medication as instructed is necessary as much as diet and workout. Diabetes medication helps keeping your blood sugar level in check and prevents sudden blood sugar spikes. If you have been prescribed certain medication, you should not think that you can interchange it with diet or do more workout or the opposite. Prescribed medication is based on diagnosis of your health condition, tests and your body’s ability to make insulin and that’s why you should never miss or ignore your diabetes medication.
• If you have been prescribed oral medication such as pills, syrups take these on time. Make a 7 days timely schedule checklist to manage timings. You can buy a pill organizer to manage pills as per day or intervals.
• If you have been prescribed Insulin based on your diagnosis, It is injected under skin with syringe. Properly learn the complete process of taking the insulin from your doctor or certified medical professional.
• Keep your insulin kit in cool and safe place but easy to reach when needed.
• Taking insulin as prescribed is very important. Make a schedule hours checklist so you don’t forget it.
• In case you have to travel, keep your insulin kit with you. There are some good insulin cooler kits are available to buy to keep your insulin cool and safe during travel in hot and humid environment.
8. Be ready for Hypoglycemia: In diabetes, hypoglycemia can suddenly make your condition critical. When your blood sugar level suddenly drops too low, it is called Hypoglycemia. If the blood sugar level drops too low suddenly and left untreated, the patient may pass out or have seizures and emergency medical care is required right away. It is important that you know what are the symptoms of hypoglycemia, so you can act fast in that situation.
Major symptoms of hypoglycemia are:
• Sudden Intense hunger or thirst
Consult your doctor about hypoglycemia and precautions you may have to take as per your condition. Your doctor may recommend you a medicine or snack and drink to keep with you based on your condition to prevent blood sugar level going too low.
9. Visit your health care team regularly: Diabetes affects whole body functions. Some body parts like eyes, gums and teeth, feet suffer more in diabetes which can seriously affect your daily life and make it more troublesome. That’s why you must visit your health care team regularly and do take eye checkups, dental care, foot exams to prevent any unwanted complications. And don’t forget to take seasonal vaccines while you are at it to prevent any flu infections going around.
I hope these simple and practical goals help you make your diabetes care plan with ease. So you can follow it without getting stressed or overwhelmed by worries.
Are you a diabetic or anyone in your family suffering from diabetes? How do you manage your week? Any tips that helps you manage more efficiently without getting stressed much? Let us know…it will be great to hear from you!