In the Spotlight

Living Well with Diabetes

Contributed by Richard Harvey, Ph.D.

If you have diabetes, can you live a full, enriched life? Of course! Why not? There is no reason that diabetes has to make life any less enjoyable, although there are things that you must pay attention to. Diabetes is a serious disease that can lead to lots of health problems, but you have a great deal of control over what happens. You must keep careful track of your blood sugar as instructed by your health care team. Your health care team will adjust your medications, including insulin if necessary, based on the blood sugar measurements. To maintain your well-being, take all medications as prescribed. Making healthy choices in the food you eat is important. In particular, limit or avoid foods high in sugar and starchy carbohydrates. Pay careful attention to your feet and to any wounds and have regular visits with your health care team. The team will pay attention to your blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, and to the condition of your eyes, kidneys, and feet. Beyond a few self-care items such as these, the key to living well with diabetes is to live a healthy lifestyle, just like anyone else. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Do not smoke or use tobacco in any form. If you do use tobacco, quit now.
  • Eat a healthy diet. This means eating plenty of vegetables, as well as fruits in moderation. Eat foods that are low in fat, avoiding animal fats and so-called trans-fats as much as possible. Make most or all of your breads and cereals whole grain products. Eat sweet foods and drinks only if they are sweetened with artificial sweetener. Avoid overeating. To decrease calories, limit or avoid alcoholic beverages. Make water your beverage of choice.
  • Get plenty of physical activity. You should aim for at least 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) each week of moderate-intensity physical activity. You can do that in as little as 10 minutes at a time. You should also do strength training exercise.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Eating a healthy diet and getting lots of physical activity are the keys to doing this. Losing extra weight is especially helpful.
  • Take steps to reduce your stress.

My HealtheVet offers tools to help you track your condition. Under Track Health, you can record and monitor your blood sugar, body weight and more in the Vitals & Readings section. Keep track of your Labs & Tests. Under Health History, record your allergies and immunizations. You can also track your exercise routine and food intake in the Journals section. My HealtheVet has many ways to help you manage your health care. Start tracking your health today!

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Diabetes (My HealtheVet)

Updated/Reviewed: November 30, 2009