This is the season for self-improvement! All around the world people will take the opportunity of the dawn of a new year to dwell on the last year’s failures, and promise to make things better. This process comes naturally to people with diabetes – after all, we get report cards in black and white at the doctor’s office. It takes discipline and hard work to thrive with diabetes, but it’s possible and it’s definitely worth the effort. If you think you’re ready to take your blood sugar management to the next level, here are some ideas that could serve you well in the coming year:
Hit the Weight Room
Resistance training is now recommended to just about everyone, regardless of age or gender, and is even seen to be of particular benefit to those who need to lose weight. Some of the many benefits include boosted metabolism, improved bone health, and better endurance, and a good weights session can be accomplished with more speed (and less sweat) than miles on the elliptical machine.
And there are some special benefits for a person with diabetes. Resistance training improves insulin sensitivity, and as a bonus, many find that it’s easier to manage glucose levels during a strength-training session than it is during aerobic exercise.
No More Bedtime Snacks
The late-night snack has been a mainstay of the diabetes diet for decades, but now is probably a good time to consider whether you can do without. The research is in – food consumed late at night is particularly unhealthy– and the issue is even more important for people with diabetes, as it may cause your blood sugar to behave unpredictably while you’re asleep and cannot monitor it.
Check Your Blood Sugar Twice as Often
Fingersticks: they sting, they’re annoying, and they can be expensive. But perhaps the single most important thing you can do to improve your glucose management is to check your blood sugar more often.
Drink Water, not Sugar
This might be the single easiest way to instantly improve your health.
We should all know by now that soda is emptiest of all “empty calories,” basically a scourge on your metabolism, triggering the vicious cycle that causes you to overeat and drive up insulin resistance and then go back for more. Soda contains an unbelievable amount of sugar and essentially zero nutritional value.
Pre-Bolus, Every Time
It’s so easy to forget to pre-bolus for meals, but that little infusion of insulin 20 or 30 minutes before a meal can make a big difference in leveling out your blood sugar. High glycemic variability (wild blood sugar swings up and down) is associated with the development of complications above and beyond what is already predicted by A1C. Endocrinologists are increasingly looking at patients’ time-in-range and standard deviation, and the pre-bolus is one of the most powerful techniques for improving those markers.
Get Serious about Site Rotation
When you inject insulin into the same spots repeatedly, you develop lumps of unhealthy fat under the skin, causing the insulin to be absorbed unpredictably. This is called lipohypertrophy, and you may be surprised to learn that it can result in a host of major negative consequences: more frequent hypos, rollercoastering blood sugars, increased insulin needs, and rising A1C.
Switch to Glucose Tabs for Hypos
So why not use glucose tabs? They are precise – no more ransacking the pantry at random. They are fast-acting – unlike chocolates or cookies or ice cream there’s no protein or fat or fiber to slow down absorption.
Update Your Glucagon Rescue Plan
This year consider updating your prescription to one of these snazzy new glucagon rescue options, and when you do it, take the opportunity to reengage and retrain family members, friends, coworkers, caregivers and whoever else might be able to help. The new glucagon rescue products are easier to use than ever, which makes a good opportunity to bring even more people into your confidence.