Manage Diabetes Before It Manages You - PIH Health

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Published on November 13, 2014

Manage Diabetes Before It Manages You


DiabetesIf you’re one of the 29.1 million Americans with diabetes, you probably spend a lot of time worrying about your blood sugar level and trying to control it. Keeping your blood sugar within the range your doctor recommends can be challenging. But, according to PIH Health endocrinologist, Ghasak Amer Mahmood MD, if you keep your mind on these three factors, you will greatly enhance your opportunities for success.


Even without diabetes, healthy eating is a pre-requisite to healthy living. And if you have diabetes, you have to be extra careful about what you eat. To make sure the food you eat supports your goals, be sure to:

  • Learn how carbohydrates affect you. Carbs have the biggest Diabetesimpact on your blood sugar levels, so keep a good record of what you eat, including portion sizes. If you’re taking insulin, these numbers may be critical to calculating your dose.
  • Eat well-balanced meals. Even if you stick with only high-quality carbs, that doesn’t mean you can eat as much as you want.
  • Avoid saturated fats and trans fats. Animal-based foods and even some high-fat plant foods, like palm oil, contain saturated fats. A diet high in saturated fat can lead to insulin resistance, but trans fats are even worse! These are the fats found in many margarines, snack foods, packaged baked goods and fast food.


When you exercise, your muscles use glucose for energy. Even light workouts done regularly can help your body use insulin more efficiently. To incorporate an effective exercise regimen, be sure to:

  • Talk to your doctor about exercise. Only your doctor can give you advice about what type of exercise is right for you. If you’ve been inactive for a while, she may want to check your overall health before you begin any new program.
  • Keep an exercise schedule. Talk to your doctor about your workout plans so he can coordinate your workout routine with your meal and medication schedules.
  • Keep an eye on your glucose levels before, during and after exercise. This is especially important if you take insulin or medications to lower your blood sugar.


If you have type 1 diabetes, you must use insulin. Some people with type 2 diabetes can manage with diet and exercise but if that’s not enough to maintain your blood sugar, then medication may be necessary. It’s important for you to pay attention to how medications, especially new ones, make you feel. Be sure to:


  • Explore your options. If you have type 2 diabetes, you will probably start with oral medications to help you reach target levels. You must continue keeping track of your progress because most oral medications lose their effectiveness over time.
  • Measure your insulin doses carefully. If you’re taking insulin, the small dose increments may not seem like much, but taking the prescribed amount is crucial. Even the differences in one or two units can have a huge impact.
  • Beware of drug interactions. When you’re managing diabetes, you have to be extremely diligent in keeping track of everything you consume - even over-the-counter pills and vitamins. List everything you’re taking, show your doctor and don’t add anything new without consulting her.

Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 2010. But if you manage your blood sugar levels successfully, you can delay or even prevent complications from forming. And be sure to check out the American Diabetes Association’s website at for more information.

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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