Establishing and maintaining daily routines can help you manage your diabetes and give you a much-needed sense of control. Here are some ways you can do this:

  1. Eat right. A registered dietitian or diabetes health expert can teach you how to count carbs and understand portion control, which will simplify meal planning and make it easier to coordinate your meals and medications. Eat several small meals throughout the day, instead of fewer large meals, and don’t skip meals. Prepare portion-controlled snacks ahead of time (and take them with you if you’ll be on the move) so they are available when needed.
  2. Be physically active. Regular exercise boosts insulin effectiveness and helps you maintain a healthy weight. Experts recommend 30 to 60 minutes most days; feel free to break it into short sessions.

    Avoid strenuous exercise just before bedtime, which may cause your blood glucose levels to drop while you sleep. Check your blood sugar levels before, after, and even during (if needed) exercise. If you have type 1 diabetes, don’t exercise if your blood glucose levels are too high or if you have ketones, which are chemicals produced when there’s a lack of insulin in your blood. Keep a small snack or glucose tablets on hand in case your blood sugar levels drop while exercising.
  3. Take insulin or medications as prescribed. The timing and dosage of your medications influences their effectiveness, so follow your physician’s instructions closely. Take prescribed medications even if you feel well and don’t think you need them.
  4. Monitor your blood glucose levels. Monitoring blood glucose at home per your physician’s instructions will help both of you know how your treatment plan is working and if you need to make changes. When you test your blood glucose level will depend on which medication you take, says Amber Taylor, MD, director of the Diabetes Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. "For example a patient taking mixed insulin, blood sugars should be checked before breakfast and before dinner—no other times are helpful," she explains. Meanwhile, "Patients taking mealtime insulin should check before all meals, and patients with type 1 diabetes should test before meals and bedtime. We often suggest 'paired' testing (both before and after a meal) for patients on oral agents. So it’s best to ask your provider or diabetes educator when you should be testing!"

    In addition to testing your blood sugar levels at the right times, make each blood glucose test a good one by carefully following the instructions for your specific blood glucose monitor. Start with clean, dry hands. You might want to stick the side of your finger so the pad of your fingertip does not become sore and interfere with other activities. Faithfully record all results (date, time, results, medications, and dosages) and bring them to doctor appointments.
  5. Prevent burnout. Try to identify—and minimize—those things that trigger stress and might cause you to be less diligent in your self care. Discuss any concerns with your diabetes care team. They are trained to recognize depression and burnout and can help you if needed.

Other Tips for Self Care

  • Be alert for changes in your blood glucose levels or general health and report them to your physician.
  • Stay hydrated. Becoming dehydrated can negatively affect your blood glucose levels.
  • Check your feet daily and tell your physician if you have any unexplained cuts or bruises.
  • Take time to rest and do activities you enjoy. You’ll be more likely to follow your diabetes care routine.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene and see your dentist regularly. People with diabetes are at greater risk for gum problems.

Amber Taylor, MD, reviewed this article.


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"Blood Sugar Testing: Why, When and How." MayoClinic. January 24, 2012. 

"Diabetes Management: How Lifestyle, Daily Routine Affect Blood Sugar." MayoClinic. June 10, 2014, accessed August 14, 2014. 

Wahowiak, Lindsey. "5 Ways to Avoid Diabetes Burnout." Diabetes Forecast. August 2014. 

"Diabetes and Scheduling: Starting a Routine." Joslin Diabetes Center. Accessed August 14, 2014. 

"4 Steps to Manage Your Diabetes for Life." National Diabetes Education Program. Last reviewed April 1, 2014. 

"Oral Health and Hygiene." American Diabetes Association. Accessed August 16, 2014. 

"Common Diabetes Terms: F-K." American Diabetes Association. Page last edited April 7, 2014.