Those living with diabetes may find it a challenge to stay healthy—everyone can have conflicts when searching for the right balance of healthy habits, such as exercise, eating well and keeping your teeth and gums clean. From stress to self-care, life can be up and down when living with diabetes.
Dr. Natalie Strand (winner of season 17 of “The Amazing Race”) knows this firsthand—she lives with type 1 diabetes. Check out her tips for staying healthy and leading a balanced life while managing diabetes:
Ask for help! When I was getting married, I asked each of my bridesmaids to remind me to check my blood sugar [blood glucose] throughout the day and to remind me to eat snacks. I knew I would be distracted, and having a team helped to keep me on track. Go ahead and ask your siblings, team mates and friends to help keep you on track!
Communicate with your care team. Make sure you connect with your diabetes educator, physician, dietitian and other health care professionals. Reach out to them with your questions, since they can often help to implement subtle changes to avoid completely overhauling your lifestyle and routine because of diabetes.
Get involved. Get a local group together to fundraise, vent or just understand each other. Groups such as your local American Diabetes Association field office, TuDiabetes and BeyondType1 offer ways to connect with others living with diabetes in person or on social media. Connecting with the diabetes community can be a powerful way to help ease the burden of living with this disease.
Keep doing what you love. Just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean you have to give up things you enjoy. Make efforts to continue sports, travel and other hobbies, even if there is a learning curve to adapting with diabetes at first.
Maintain good oral health. Not many people know this, but people living with diabetes are twice as likely to develop gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Brush twice daily to prevent gingivitis, an early form of gum disease.
Get into a routine. Find a routine that works and stick with it. This way, you don’t have to make new decisions each day. Anything that can ease the mental burden of diabetes can help. For example, pick a time each year for your annual visits: eye doctor, endocrinologist, prescription renewals, et cetera. Picking the same time every year can help ensure you don’t forget to take care of yourself.
Make self-care a priority. It can be hard to keep diabetes care in the forefront. Remind yourself that one of the best things you can do for yourself—and for your loved ones—is to stay healthy. Use your family as motivation to exercise daily, eat better-for-you foods, maintain a healthy weight and take medications and monitor blood glucose as directed.
Manage stress. Diabetes can be a big stressor alone. The addition of jobs, kids and relationships, can make diabetes management seem overwhelming. Find an easy and effective tool for stress relief, and do it often—even five to 10 minutes of daily, guided meditation can have a big impact on stress management. Other ways to de-stress? Deep breathing exercises and connecting with nature, such as a walk in the park, help your body to relax and refresh.
Since 2008, we’ve partnered with Colgate Total to spread awareness of the link between oral health (an important component of diabetes management) and diabetes. For more information and ways to lead a balanced life with diabetes, visit OralHealthandDiabetes.com.