Take Charge Of Your Diabetes


smiling older african american man

Controlling Your Diabetes

Controlling Your Diabetes

  • Keeping a Balance
  • A Few Things About Food
  • A Few Things About Physical Activity
  • A Few Things About Diabetes Medicine

There’s good news for people with diabetes. Studies show that keeping your
blood glucose (also called blood sugar) close to normal helps prevent or delay
some diabetes problems.

Through careful control, at least half of the expected eye disease, kidney
disease, and nerve damage can be prevented or slowed. People who were in the
study had Type 1 diabetes, but many doctors believe that people who have Type 2
diabetes can also benefit by keeping their blood glucose levels closer to

You can learn more about diabetes and ways to help you control your blood
sugar by calling National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) at 1-800-438-5383.

Image of a health fair exhibit booth displaying diabetes information.
You may find that your community supports your efforts to control
your diabetes.

Keeping a Balance

Image of a turtle.

As the turtle makes steady progress, so too must those with diabetes continue
to maintain healthy lifestyles and stick to daily routines that involve regular
exercise, good nutrition, glucose monitoring, and regular visits to health care

To keep your glucose at a healthy level, you need to keep a balance between
three important things:

  • What you eat and drink.
  • How much physical activity you do.
  • What diabetes medicine you take (if your doctor has prescribed diabetes
    pills or insulin).

This book gives you only some of the facts you need. Your health care team
can give you more.

A Few Things About Food

Here are some tips for making healthy eating choices:

  • Eat regular meals. Ask your health care team to help you choose a meal
    plan. Your dietitian may suggest you eat three meals and a snack or two every
    day at about the same times. Eating every 4 to 5 hours can help control blood
  • Eat a variety of foods. Choose a variety of foods to eat so that your
    body gets the nutrition it needs. Ask your dietitian for help.
  • Eat less fat. Avoid fried foods. Foods that are baked, broiled,
    grilled, boiled, or steamed are more healthy to eat. Eat meats that have little
    fat. When you eat dairy products (cheese, milk, yogurt, and others), choose
    those that have little or no fat or cream.
  • Eat less sugar. You may find that eating less sugar helps you control
    your blood glucose level. Here are some things you can do to eat less
  • Eat more high-fiber foods, like vegetables, dried beans, fruit, and oatmeal.
  • Drink water and other drinks that have no added sugar.

Image of a batch of fruits and vegetables.
Choose to eat a variety of healthy foods, such as fruit and


Image of 2 women infront of a food market table displaying squash, beans, and cabbage.
Ask your market to carry more hearthealthy foods.

  • Eat fewer foods that have extra sugar, such as cookies, cakes, pastries,
    candy, brownies, and sugared breakfast cereals.
  • Talk with your health care team about ways to sweeten food and drinks
    without using sugar:

Eat less salt. Eating less salt may help control your blood pressure.
Here are some ways to eat less salt:

    • Use less salt when you prepare foods.
    • Cut down on processed foods, such as foods you buy in cans and jars, pickled
      foods, lunch meats (“cold cuts”), and snack foods, such as chips.
    • Taste your food first before adding salt. You may not need to add any.
    • Use herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor your food.
  • A word about drinking alcohol: Alcohol can cause health problems,
    especially for people with diabetes. It adds calories and doesn’t give your body
    any nutrition. Drinking alcohol may cause dangerous reactions with medicines you
    take. Your blood glucose can go down too low if you drink beer, wine, or liquor
    on an empty stomach. If you want to include a drink in your food plan once in a
    while, ask your health care team how to do so safely.

A Few Things About Physical Activity

Image of a man jogging.
Walking is a good way to get regular exercise.


  • It’s important to be active. Physical activity has many benefits. It
    can help you control your blood glucose and your weight. Physical activity can
    help prevent heart and blood flow problems. Many people say they feel better
    when they get regular exercise.
  • Start with a little. If you haven’t been doing any physical activity,
    talk to your health care team before you begin. Walking, working in the yard,
    and dancing are good ways to start. As you become stronger, you can add a few
    extra minutes to your physical activity. If you feel pain, slow down or stop and
    wait until it goes away. If the pain comes back, talk with your health care team
    right away.
  • Do some physical activity every day. It’s better to walk 10 or 20
    minutes each day than one hour once a week.
  • Choose an activity you enjoy. Do an activity you really like. The
    more fun it is, the more likely you will do it each day. It’s also good to
    exercise with a family member or friend.

If you’re already active now, but want to become more active, talk to your
health care team about a safe exercise plan.

A Few Things About Diabetes Medicine

Image of an insulin bottle.
Be sure you know how and when to take your diabetes medicine