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Sneaky Bad Habits – Have any of these crept into your self-management?

September 4, 2012 in News

There’s no way around the fact that no matter your prescribed treatment, managing a chronic illness such as diabetes is a lot of work. It’s a 24 hours a day, 365 (or 366) days per year occupation. Sometimes, the with the amount of attention diabetes requires, bad habits and shortcuts might start drifting in to your self management routine.

Here are some common bad habits that can impact your diabetes self-care:

1. Guessing carb content:
Okay, maybe you have memorized the carbohydrate content of your favorites – the foods you eat almost every day. But what about other foods? One common bad habit is to accidentally dispose of packing before reading the label, then just guessing or “eyeballing” the number of carbohydrates in the food instead of looking it up. Taking the time to look every food up can be a hassle, but it can save you from a sudden spike or drop in your blood sugar that can have lasting implications for your health. Even if you are out to eat, most restaurants have at least some information on the carbohydrate content of their foods if you ask. Checking, looking up, or asking about the food you are about to eat is worth it.

2. Munching on high-carb snacks:
Processed, high-carb snacks are a serious stumbling point for many of us. They’re quick, easy, and cheap, and if you’re not paying attention, they can start to creep back into your diet plan under the radar. If you’ve unconsciously replaced your healthy go-to snacks with processed snack foods, it’s time to take a serious look at your pantry and your eating plan.

3. Estimating your blood sugar without testing:
If you’ve been living with diabetes for a long time, chances are you have become pretty good at guessing where your blood sugar levels are based on how you are feeling. If you’re usually right with your guesses, it may be tempting to skip some testing. But the symptoms of both hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia aren’t unique to just those conditions – other things, like nerves or an adrenaline rush, can have the same symptoms. No matter how good your guessing is, everyone gets surprised from time to time by an extreme low or high reading they weren’t expecting. It’s not worth it to skip a test.

4. Not changing your lancet:
Yes, you need to change your lancet. Follow your doctor’s instructions, or the user manual, and stick to their recommendations. Not only will this reduce your risk of infections, a newer and therefore sharper lancet will help you draw blood more easily. A dull lancet is also likely to cause more pain and bruising than a one that is replaced routinely.

5. Skimping on exercise:
It can be easy for one skipped workout to turn into a pattern of skipped workouts, into no workouts at all – but getting exercise, even if it is only 10 minutes a day, is an essential part of diabetes self-management. Getting exercise can help you manage your blood sugar, maintain or achieve a healthy weight, and protect your overall health. You don’t need expensive equipment or gym memberships to reap the benefits of regular exercise, but you do need to make the time, even if that time comes in little spurts. If you need some ideas for fun activities that count as exercise, you can read the American Diabetes Association’s recommendations here. Just remember to check with your doctor before starting anything new.

6. Putting off doctor’s appointments
Speaking of checking with your doctor, another bad habit that can sneak up on people with diabetes is postponing and even missing regularly scheduled visits. Keeping up with all the visits to your doctor and specialist is time-consuming, especially when you are already managing a busy schedule. But keeping these appointments, even if you feel fine, is extremely important. Regular visits can help you catch problems before you might otherwise notice, giving you the best chance to avoid serious complications. Even if nothing is wrong, seeing your doctor can provide concrete reassurance that your self-management routine is working effectively.

Your regular visits also give you the chance to bring up any questions or nagging concerns about your diabetes. If you have trouble remembering these questions during your visits, try using your Appointment Preparation Checklist and notes so that you have them in-hand when you speak with your doctor.

If any of these bad habits have crept up on you, now is a great time to commit yourself to working on them one step at a time. Start with small, concrete goals, and remember to ask for help if you need it.

This post is based on an excellent article by Diabetes Health’s Meagan Esler, which you can read on the magazine’s website.

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