Taking control of diabetes has many benefits. Keeping your blood sugar (also called blood glucose) levels in the normal range can make a big difference now and in the future.

In the short run, you will:

  • Feel better.

  • Stay healthy.

  • Have more energy.

  • Prevent the signs and symptoms of high blood sugar such as: feeling very thirsty and tired; urinating often; losing a lot of weight; having blurred vision; and having cuts or bruises that are slow to heal.

In the long run, you will:

  • Lower your chances of having diabetes problems such as eye disease, kidney disease, and nerve damage.

  • Enjoy a better quality of life.

There are many steps you can take to control your diabetes for life. Follow this three-part action plan to get your blood sugar under control:

  1. Know your blood sugar numbers. Get a complete picture of your blood sugar control with the hemoglobin A1c test and the finger-stick test using a blood glucose meter.

  2. Reach your blood sugar goal. Make healthy lifestyle choices with the help of your health care provider.

  3. Keep your blood sugar under control. Create a plan to stick with your self-care goals and manage setbacks.

Tips to Control Blood Sugar

To Start

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  • Test your blood sugar. Ask your health care provider when and how often.

  • Keep a record of your blood tests, medicines, and daily events. Review the record with your health care provider.

  • Take your diabetes medicine as prescribed.

  • Eat foods to control your blood sugar. See a dietitian to create a meal plan that is right for you.

  • Get physical activity. If you haven't been active, start slowly. Good activities are walking and swimming.

  • Check your feet for cuts, blisters, red spots, and swelling. Call your health care provider right away about any sores that won't heal.

To Keep in Mind Along the Way

  • Stay at a weight that is right for you. Ask your health care provider what you should weigh.

  • Treat low blood sugar quickly with special tablets or gel made of glucose.

  • Don't smoke. Talk to your health care provider about ways to quit.

  • Learn more about diabetes and diabetes self-care. Ask your health care provider to suggest a dietitian and a diabetes educator to help you manage your diabetes.

  • Seek support from family and friends or join a diabetes support group. Call your local hospital or health department to find a support group.

To Do With Your Health Care Providers

  • Write down your questions and take them with you to each visit.

  • Ask for a hemoglobin A1c test at least twice a year and know what your test result means.

  • Ask for regular blood pressure checks, cholesterol tests, and other blood fat tests.

  • Have your feet, eyes, and kidneys checked at least once a year or more often if you have problems.

  • See your dentist at least twice a year. Tell your dentist you have diabetes.

Tips to Maintain Blood Sugar Control

Set Goals You Can Reach

  • Break a big goal into small steps. If you plan to increase your physical activity, start by taking one 5-minute walk three times a week. Then try walking longer or more often.

  • Make changes that you can stick with for the rest of your life. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, be active and limit portion sizes. Don't just go on a "diet."

Create a Plan to Deal With Diabetes

  • Think about all your reasons for staying in control of your blood sugar. Make a list and post it where you see it often.

  • Figure out what can tempt you to slip up when it comes to blood sugar control. Decide now how you will handle these events next time.

  • Reward yourself for staying in control. Rent a movie, buy a plant, or spend time with a friend.

  • Ask for a little help from friends and family when you're down or need someone to talk to.

Manage Setbacks

  • Admit that you've slipped. Learn what you can from it.

  • Don't be too hard on yourself. A setback is not the end of the world.