By now you know that Insulin therapy can be effective for managing Type 2 diabetes, but don’t expect insulin to do all the work for you. Keep these 8 steps to managing your insulin therapy front and center in your mind at all times.
But first, answer this for yourself: Does your well-being often take a backseat to your hectic lifestyle?
Then know this:
Your Lifestyle Habits Are Just As Important To Your Overall Treatment Plan As Taking Your Insulin.
When you’re on insulin therapy for type 2 diabetes, diet, exercise, and other healthy lifestyle habits are just as important as ever to your overall treatment plan.
Your lifestyle is an essential component for diabetics.
Regardless what your glucose meter says at any given part of the day, no matter what good choices you made today when picking foods and no matter your good intentions, if you do not change your lifestyle, everything you’re doing on and off will catch up.
Managing diabetes is a full-time job.
Whether you’re just starting on insulin therapy or adjusting your current routine, these are the steps to follow, and they are each equally important.
Keep in mind that your testing results will jump from high to low and low to high continuously, damaging your organs along the way, if you pick and choose which steps you’ll follow.
8 Steps To Managing Your Insulin Therapy
1. Test your blood sugar regularly
➡ Your ideal blood glucose (sugar) level takes various factors, like your age, into account. It also depends on the time of day, your planned activity, and the type of diabetes you have.
➡ Testing your blood sugar doesn’t only direct you to take the right amount of insulin, it also reveals information on how your diet, exercise level, stress, illnesses, and other things in your life may raise or lower your blood sugar.
Work with your doctor to determine a good daily schedule for testing your blood sugar levels, and periodically go over your food logs (diaries) together to get recommendations on things you need to change or update.
Keep A Log Of What You Eat And Your Exercise Level
➡ Researchers have found that keeping a food diary helps you to be accountable for your eating habits and is especially important for diabetics, as it allows you to uncover unhealthy patterns and identify trigger foods.
It works the same way when keeping track of your activity/exercise level. Remember: Physical activity is not optional when managing your blood sugar.
Your lack of physical activity may not be reflected in your numbers right away, but it will be and honestly, there is no way around it.
➡ Diabetics must make exercise a part of their lifestyle to maintain stable blood sugar readings. And, the activity you choose must be sustained, for at least 30 minutes at a time, not intermittently.
2. Know where to inject your insulin
Insulin is absorbed at different speeds depending on the area of injection, so it’s important to use the same body part for daily injections — but be sure to rotate sites on that body part.
➡ In general, insulin can be injected in the upper arms, upper thighs, abdomen, and buttocks, with absorption being fastest in the abdomen, then the arms, thighs, and buttocks.
➡ Always be sure to choose a place to inject insulin that’s at least a finger’s width away from your last injection site to avoid creating areas of “lipohypertrophy” which are lumps of accumulated fat and scar tissue that affect insulin absorption.
3. Eat a diabetes-friendly diet
In addition to helping you to reach and maintain a healthy weight and prevent other conditions that can come with diabetes such as heart disease, a healthy diabetes diet will help you manage your condition.
What you eat, especially when it comes to carbohydrates, can significantly affect your blood sugar levels.
➡ Carbs break down into sugars, so spread out those you eat through the course of the day.
➡ Also, balance every single meal with lean protein and healthy fat.
➡ If you’re prescribed a mealtime insulin dose, work with your doctor to match the dose with the food you eat.
Here are some other ways to maximize your diet and prevent blood sugar highs and lows.
➡ Choose whole grains like whole-wheat bread and pasta, brown rice, and quinoa instead of refined grains.
➡ Pick sweet potatoes over white potatoes.
➡ Read food labels carefully to find sugar hiding in foods, like high fructose corn syrup in processed foods. Click here to learn what to look for.
➡ Finally, be mindful of portion control and serving sizes.
A Certified Diabetes Educator or Registered Dietitian can help you tailor a diabetes diet to fit your needs, they just can’t make you follow it.
4. Stick to your insulin schedule
Skipping or forgetting an insulin dose is a big deal when you have diabetes. It can actually lead to a higher than normal blood glucose reading.
It’s also important to eat regular meals because some insulin and oral medications are specifically timed to work with food.
5. Stay hydrated This is a deal breaker.
➡ Getting enough liquids is important to prevent fatigue as well as the confusion that can lead your body to think you’re hungry and encourage unnecessary eating.
➡ Elevated blood sugar can also lead to sugar being excreted in your urine and cause dehydration,
Think of starting and getting exercise as free medicine.
➡ Exercise helps decrease insulin resistance, allowing sugar in the bloodstream to be pulled into the cells where it can be used for fuel, instead of being eliminated through the kidneys when you urinate.
➡ A single episode of moderate-intensity exercise can increase glucose uptake by at least 40%. And you don’t need to run a marathon to get the benefits.
➡ Low-impact aerobic exercises, such as brisk walking and strength training are good places to start.
What’s more, besides benefiting your heart, helping you lose and keep off excess weight, exercise leads to sounder sleep and better moods.
7. Be prepared
If you’re managing type 2 diabetes with insulin or another glucose-lowering medication, you should know the symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
- You may feel sweaty, confused, and hungry.
Click these links to learn more about low blood sugar.
➡ Carry a quick-acting sugar — such as a glucose tablet or a quarter glass of fruit juice — to take right away if your blood sugar drops.
However, keep the amount you eat small, so you don’t overdo it and raise your blood sugar for the rest of the day.
8. Stay in touch with your doctor
About 1/3 of diabetics fail to take their insulin as prescribed, which can lead to long-term complications such as heart attack, stroke, and nerve damage.
➡ Maintain regular contact with your doctor, especially if you’re new to taking insulin, and have your lab tests drawn as ordered.
➡ Keep your physician aware of any changes to your health or necessary adjustments to your medications.
And, finally, stay in touch with your feelings about being a diabetic. Recognize and accept the necessary changes to your preferred lifestyle and do it for yourself, for you, not for anyone else. Because…