Tips to Help You Stay Healthy
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This tip sheet helps people work with their health care team to make a successful diabetes action plan.
In addition to a downloadable file (PDF) of the four-page tip sheet, online only, two-page PDF versions in two-color and black &white formats are available for ease of printing. Also available in Spanish.
Last reviewed: 02/02/2012
Taking action to manage your diabetes can help you to feel good today and stay healthy in the future.
Work with your doctor and other health care team members to make a diabetes care plan that works for you. Follow these four steps.
Step 1: Learn about Diabetes
Diabetes means that your blood glucose (sugar) is too high. Diabetes is serious because it can damage your heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. But you can learn to manage it and prevent or delay health problems.
- Take a class and join a support group about living with diabetes. Check with your health care team, hospital, or area health clinic.
- Read about diabetes online. Go to www.YourDiabetesInfo.org.
- Ask your diabetes health care team how you can learn more.
Step 2: Know your diabetes numbers
Ask your doctor what target numbers are best for you. They may be different from the numbers below.
A1C measures your average blood glucose level over the past 2 to 3 months.
The A1C target for many people is below 7.
LDL, or bad cholesterol, builds up and clogs your arteries.
The LDL target is below 100.
High blood pressure makes your heart work too hard.
The blood pressure target for most people is less than 130/80.
Step 3: Manage your Diabetes
Your diabetes care plan should help you to:
Keep track of your diabetes numbers
Learn how and when to check your own blood glucose.
- See what makes your blood glucose go up or down.
- Go over the test results with your health care team. Use them to manage your diabetes.
- Ask how to prevent low blood glucose.
Eat healthy foods such as:
- fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meats and poultry, dried peas or beans, lentils, and low-fat or skim milk and cheese
- whole grain foods such as whole wheat bread and crackers, oatmeal, brown rice, and cereals
- food prepared with little added fat, oil, salt, or sugar
- smaller servings of meat, fish, and poultry
- larger servings of fruits and vegetables.
Be active for 30 to 60 minutes on most days of the week. Brisk walking is a great way to be active.
Seek help if you feel down. Talking with a counselor, friend, family member, support group, or a religious leader may help you feel better.
Stop smoking. Call 1 800-QUIT-NOW
Take your medicines even when you feel good.
Ask if you need to take a low-dose aspirin to prevent a heart attack or stroke.
Check your feet every day. Call your health care team if a cut, sore, blister, or bruise on your feet or toes does not begin to go away after 2 days.
Brush your teeth and floss every day to prevent problems with your mouth, teeth, or gums.
Tell your health care team if your eyesight changes.
Step 4: Get regular care
Contact your health care team if you have any questions or problems as you manage your diabetes, medicines, or supplies.
Use “My Diabetes Care Record” in the downloadable Tips to Help You Stay Healthy PDF to track your diabetes numbers and checkups with your doctor or health care team.
Talk to your doctor if you plan to get pregnant.
Ask what diabetes services are covered by Medicare and other insurance. To learn more about Medicare go to: bit.ly/mc-diabetes.