Ten Ways to Observe National Diabetes Month

1. Commit to a new healthy habit for one month.

Many lifestyle habits — not just eating and exercising — can affect your general health and your diabetes management. Some may affect your blood glucose levels directly, and others may have a more indirect effect, enabling or preventing you from carrying out your daily routines, for example. Rather than choose something you feel you “should” do, pick something you feel able and willing to do. Here are some ideas:

Get more sleep. Not getting enough sleep can increase insulin resistance, meaning your body requires more insulin to get glucose into your cells. This can lead to higher blood glucose levels and is believed to have other negative health effects. Inadequate sleep also tends to leave you feeling fatigued during the day, which is likely to make it harder for you to exercise, eat right, think, remember, and cope with stress.

Most adults need between 7 1/2 and 9 hours of sleep a night. Start your efforts to sleep more by setting and sticking to a regular bedtime and making your bedroom as dark and quiet as possible. For more tips on getting more sleep, go to “Getting the Sleep You Need.”

Drink more water. Dehydration can make you feel tired and headachy, and because thirst is often mistaken for hunger, it can also cause you to eat more. Drinking more water can make you feel better and help your body function better. But even if you’re not dehydrated, drinking more water in place of caloric or alcoholic beverages will likely be good for your health. Calories consumed in liquids don’t tend to satisfy hunger the way calories in food do, so it’s easy to drink a lot of calories without really noticing them. Quench your thirst with water, then eat food if you’re hungry.

Inspect your feet every day. You’ll probably find nothing of great interest on your feet in a month of daily checking, but it’s never too early to familiarize yourself with what your feet normally look like. That way, if something changes, you will notice more quickly. When checking your feet, note how easily you can see the bottoms of your feet. If you find it’s a strain, consider getting a hand mirror (possibly a lighted or magnified one) that allows you to see them with less effort.

Floss once a day. Periodontal, or gum, disease can negatively affect your diabetes control. Practicing good oral hygiene, including daily brushing and flossing, can go a long way toward preventing periodontal disease. Even if you hate flossing, commit to it for a month, then see whether it’s become a less-dreaded, more easily accomplished part of your daily routine.

Start using a pedometer. Vowing to “exercise more” is a difficult resolution to carry out. Clipping a pedometer to your belt or waistband every morning, on the other hand, is easy, and at the end of each day, you have a numerical readout of how active you were during the day. You may be surprised at how few — or how many — steps you take each day, but at least you know where you stand. When you’re ready, you can take the next step of deciding whether to purposely increase your daily steps. Many people aim for 10,000 steps a day, which is about 5 miles.

Try a new fruit or vegetable. Fruits and vegetables offer numerous nutrition benefits, including fiber, potassium, and other vitamins and minerals. While the amounts of various nutrients vary from one fruit or vegetable to the next — with darker-colored produce usually containing more nutrients — consuming a variety is an excellent way to reap a full range of benefits.

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