Managing your diabetes is a continuous, day-to-day process. You can help your blood glucose levels stay in the target range by doing the following four things every day:

  1. Follow your healthy eating plan
  2. Be physically active
  3. Take your medicines as prescribed
  4. Monitor your diabetes

These tasks may appear to be overwhelming at first. Simply make small adjustments until these steps become a natural part of your day.

Follow Your Healthy Eating Plan

Ask your doctor for the name of someone who has been trained to assist you in developing a healthy eating plan, such as a dietitian. This plan, also known as medical nutrition therapy, will include regular monitoring by your dietitian as well as education on how to adjust your eating habits as needed. As long as your doctor refers you, medical nutrition therapy is usually covered by insurance or Medicare. Your dietitian can assist you in planning meals that include foods that you and your family enjoy while also being nutritious.

Your healthy eating plan will include:

  • breads, cereals, rice, and whole grains
  • fruits and vegetables
  • meat and meat substitutes
  • dairy products
  • healthy fats

Your plan will also teach you how to eat the proper amount of food, or portions. Making healthy food choices will:

  • help you reach and stay at a healthy weight
  • keep your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels under control
  • prevent heart and blood vessel disease


  • Follow your healthy eating plan
  • Don’t skip meals, especially if you’ve already taken your insulin, because your blood glucose levels may drop too low
  • Learn more about how to handle low blood glucose, also called hypoglycemia


  • Follow your healthy eating plan
  • Don’t skip meals, especially if you take diabetes medicines, because your blood glucose levels may drop too low
  • Learn more about how to handle low blood glucose, also called hypoglycemia
  • Eat several small meals during the day instead of big meals

Be Physically Active

Physical activity aids in the maintenance of good health. Physical activity is especially beneficial for diabetics because it:

  • helps you reach or stay at a healthy weight
  • helps insulin work better to lower your blood glucose levels
  • is good for your heart and lungs
  • gives you more energy

Even minimal amounts of physical activity, such as being physically active at work or at home, can help manage diabetes. Diabetics should aim for 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Children and adolescents with type 2 diabetes aged 10 to 17 should aim for 60 minutes of physical activity per day. All physical activity does not have to take place at the same time.

Reduce time spent watching TV or using the computer to increase daily activity. Children and adolescents should limit their non-school-related screen time to no more than two hours per day. Limiting your screen time can assist you in meeting your physical activity goal.

People with diabetes should:

  • always talk with a doctor before starting a new physical activity program
  • do aerobic exercises, such as brisk walking, that use the body’s large muscles to cause the heart to beat faster. The large muscles are those that control head, shoulder, and hip movements, as well as those in the upper and lower arms and legs
  • do activities to strengthen muscles and bone, such as sit-ups or lifting weights. Aim for two times a week
  • stretch to increase flexibility, lower stress, and help prevent muscle soreness after physical activity

Many activities can keep your child and family active and entertained. Consider activities that they might enjoy and are likely to stick with, such as:

  • playing basketball
  • dancing to music with friends
  • taking a walk or a bike ride


  • See your doctor before becoming physically active
  • Before, during, and after physical activity, check your blood glucose levels. If your blood glucose levels are high or if you have ketones in your blood or urine, don’t start a physical activity program.
  • Don’t be physically active right before you go to bed because it could cause low blood glucose while you sleep


  • See your doctor before becoming physically active
  • Ask your doctor about whether you need to eat before you are physically active

Carry glucose tablets or a carbohydrate-rich snack or drink, such as fruit or juice, with you when you exercise in case your blood glucose levels fall too low.

Take Your Medicines As Prescribed

Diabetes medications may be useful if you have type 2 diabetes and are unable to achieve your target blood glucose levels through a healthy eating plan and physical activity. Your doctor may prescribe diabetes medications that are best suited to you and your lifestyle.

If you have type 1 diabetes, you will require insulin shots if your body has stopped producing insulin or if it is not producing enough. Some people with type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes require insulin shots as well.

Diabetes Medicines

The majority of people with type 2 diabetes take medications other than insulin shots. People with type 2 diabetes take medication to keep their blood glucose levels within the normal range. If your body produces insulin but it is insufficient to lower your blood glucose levels, you may need to take one or more medications.

Diabetes medications are available in pill and shot form. Some people take diabetes medications once a day, while others take them more frequently. Inquire with your doctor about when you should take your diabetes medications. People who take diabetes medications may occasionally require insulin shots for a short period of time.

Inform your doctor if you become ill as a result of your medications or if you experience any other problems. If you become ill or have surgery, your diabetes medications may no longer be effective in lowering your blood glucose levels. Always consult your doctor before discontinuing diabetes medications.


Insulin can only be prescribed by a doctor. Your doctor can advise you on how much insulin to take and which of the following insulin administration methods is best for you:

  • Insulin shot. You’ll inject insulin into a hollow tube with a plunger using a needle attached to a syringe. Some people use an insulin pen, which is a pen-like device with a needle and an insulin cartridge. Even with family, never share insulin needles or insulin pens.
  • Insulin pump. An insulin pump is a small device that contains insulin and is worn on your belt or carried in your pocket. The pump is linked to a small plastic tube and a needle. The needle is inserted under your skin by you or your doctor. The needle can remain in place for several days.
  • Insulin jet injector. This device sends a fine spray of insulin through your skin with high-pressure air instead of a needle.
  • Insulin injection port. A small tube is inserted just beneath your skin by you or your doctor and remains there for several days. Instead of injecting insulin through your skin, you can inject it into the end of the tube.


Your doctor may prescribe additional medications to help with diabetes-related issues, such as:

  • aspirin for heart health
  • cholesterol-lowering medicines
  • medicines for high blood pressure

It can be difficult to remember to take your medications at the appropriate times each day. Many people find that keeping a weekly pill box with separate boxes for each day, as well as separate boxes for morning and evening, can be beneficial. Also, request that your health care team update your medication list at each visit so that you always have an up-to-date list of what medications to take and when.


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