Top 6 Life Hacks for Managing Diabetes
Diabetes is not a death sentence. You won’t go blind or develop kidney disease so long as you manage your diabetes and lifestyle accordingly. Medications alone are not a cure-all, so it’s important to make smart choices every day. A lifelong commitment to careful diabetes management can prevent the gateway diseases that unmanaged diabetes can trigger.
Beyond medication, maintaining a healthy diet and committing to regular exercise will help you manage your diabetes. A diet rich in vegetables, fibre, and lean proteins and low in fat, carbohydrates, and refined sugars will help to keep your blood sugar levels within the normal range. Regular aerobic and resistance exercise will also help to improve blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and overall health and fitness.
It can all feel incredibly overwhelming when you think of the lengths you must go to when committing to careful diabetes management. But starting small and having a plan can help you get to where you need to be. And once you get into the rhythm of a healthy lifestyle, you’ll feel too good to risk messing it up! At any rate, life hacks are always great, and we found some worthy of sharing.
1. Feeling peckish? Find a distraction
To prevent food cravings in the first place, you need to avoid significant fluctuations in blood sugar. Studies show that cravings decrease with better blood sugar control, whereas higher A1C levels are linked to increased cravings for carb-rich foods. Before you give in to your cravings, test your blood sugar. If it’s high, try distracting yourself with a walk, reading a book, or calling a friend. If your blood sugar is low, have a little something to get it back up, like grapes, an apple, some trail mix, or glucose tabs. And if it’s true hunger, it will keep nagging at you.
2. Get some rest
Studies show that sleep deprivation alters appetite-regulating hormones and increases calorie intake. So, if you’re having trouble sleeping, try improving your sleep hygiene and bedtime routine. For example, going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day can help train your brain to feel tired when it’s bedtime naturally. And put the phone down! Blue light from screens floods your brain, tricking it into thinking it’s daytime and suppressing melatonin production. Try reading an (actual) book instead! If you have kids, you know that a structured bedtime routine is vital to winding them down for sleep. Treat yourself with the same love and care.
3. Download a diabetes management app
A diabetes management app can help take the load off and is a convenient way to track your blood sugar levels and share information with your medical team. MySugr, for instance, is an excellent app for comprehensive diabetes management. It covers everything from carb counting, glucose tracking, bolus dose calculation estimates, reports and estimates on blood glucose levels over time, and more. It even notifies you to follow up with you for more data, like your blood sugar level after exercise.
4. Hydrate with H2O
One of the easiest ways to improve your health and blood sugar levels is to stick with water. We all know that juice and soda contain high amounts of sugar and no nutritional value. If you’re a coffee or tea drinker, go easy on the sweeteners and moderate your intake.
5. Cut out the bedtime snacks
Food consumed late at night is a bad idea for multiple reasons. But the issue is even more pressing for those with diabetes, as snacking before bed can cause your blood sugar to behave erratically while you sleep. See tip #1 for ways to distract yourself from any pesky cravings.
6. Be kind to yourself
When you have diabetes, stress can negatively impact your ability to control the disease. Removing life’s stressors is easier said than done, but there are small changes you can make to reduce them.
- Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and blow off some steam, and it serves another purpose in improving blood sugar levels. And it doesn’t have to be intense; going for a walk or a hike is equally beneficial to your health.
- Practice relaxation techniques to reduce stress and improve wellbeing. Deep breathing, meditation, and yoga are excellent ways to unwind and keep stress in check.
- Accept what you can’t change or control. You may not be able to control or change a situation or a person, but you can control how you feel, think, and behave. Practicing mindfulness, writing down what you’re grateful for, and helping others are great ways to change the narrative and foster those feel-good hormones.
Managing your diabetes can feel insurmountable at times. It doesn’t have to be. Make sure you have the support you need from your healthcare provider, family, and friends. And if you’re searching for more, join a community-based organization, volunteer, participate in events, or advocate!
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