Living such busy lives, it is easy to get caught up in the chaos of being pulled in all sorts of directions.  Trying to concentrate on diabetes self-care can be stressful and overwhelming at times. Stress not only directly impacts blood sugar control, but it can make it hard to focus and maintain lifestyle goals. One simple way to help center yourself is to breathe. If you find that you are feeling stressed, in a fog, anxious, or upset, one of the best things you can do is to take time out for just a few minutes and breathe. The basic act of just taking a few deep breaths can help calm your body and clear your mind, not to mention that it can also combat rising blood sugars. Focus on simple breathing to help relax and use it as an easy, healthy coping mechanism.  Take a look here to learn more ways to breathe and meditate to manage stress.


2. Eat whole grains

Whole grains include wheat, corn, rice, oats, amaranth, barley, buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, millet, spelt, rye and even popcorn. A diet rich in whole-grains has been shown to have a beneficial effect in controlling postprandial (after-meal) blood glucose levels and for reducing serum cholesterol levels. In contrast, refined grains have been milled, which removes the bran and germ and comes at cost of removing dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins.  Try to substitute whole grains like whole wheat pasta and brown rice in place of refined starches like white rice and pasta. Check out this previous post to learn more about whole grains and ways to add them to your diet.


3. Set realistic goals

Setting goals is important to the process of behavioral change and developing the right kind of habits. Goals can help influence habit formation by motivating you to start a habit, repeat it and maintain it. When you are managing a health condition like diabetes, especially one that is impacted by so many areas of your lifestyle, it’s important to have goals to work toward. Goals can help you measure progress and can be incredibly empowering when they are set and tracked correctly. Setting goals can help you get on the right path with a manageable step by step process. However, the wrong kind of goal setting can have the opposite effect. Goals that are unrealistic, too vague, or don’t hold you to any timeline for completion can actually work against you. In the long run, the most effective goals are S.M.A.R.T. goals, meaning they are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Look here to learn more about SMART goals and how to use them to achieve change.


4. Add veggies in new ways 


According to the Diabetes Plate Method, a simple meal planning tool for diabetes, half of your plate should be filled with non-starchy vegetables. Examples of non-starchy vegetables include carrots, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and salad greens (to name a few). Non-starchy veggies make a great choice to bulk up your plate because they are low in calories and carbohydrates,yet high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Adding vegetables to your diet doesn’t  just have to consist of simple salads or plain steamed veggies. Try more interesting and flavorful ways of preparation to  encourage you to incorporate them into your diet more often. Take a peek at these creative suggestions to add more veggies into your meals.


5. Move More

Being more active is a key component of diabetes management. One of the simplest and most effective ways to bring down blood sugar levels, cut the risk of cardiovascular disease, and improve overall health and well-being, is to exercise. Despite these benefits, regular exercise is not always focused on enough in our increasingly sedentary world. . Starting simply with short 5-10 minutes of walking 1-2x/day, or getting up to move around every hour to avoid prolonged sitting, will add up and make a difference in your health.  Check Here to find out about some great ways to get more movement into your day.


6. Stock your pantry with healthy foods

A great first step in planning quick and easy meals to manage diabetes is to make sure you have the ingredients easily available! Keeping healthy staples in stock in your pantry can help encourage preparation of nutritious meals that fit into your meal plan. Buy pantry staples to have on hand for quick and easy meals and snacks such as whole grain pastas, brown rice, whole grain cereals, canned tomatoes, spice, nuts/nut butters, broths and healthy dressings. Find more examples to improve your pantry here


7. Ask for help support/when needed

Creating and maintaining a strong social support network can be very beneficial for your health and can also be key to managing your diabetes successfully. Research has shown that having social support from others can help with blood sugar control, weight management, lowering stress and depression, as well as lead to improved lifestyle habits and increased quality of life.

There are a variety of ways to gain social support. Examples include:  spending more time with family, planning date nights or special time with friends, joining a support group, or even seeking out counseling, if needed. Read more about how to take advantage of your social support network in this previous post.


8. Keep commitments in check

When there is a lot going on daily, it is easy to forget commitments like doctors’ appointments, so it is important to have a good system to keep track of things.  There are all sorts of calendars and planners available that you can explore to find one that works best for you.  Try adding health appointments and other key engagements to your planner/calendar so you can stay on course. If you prefer paper, having a daily and monthly planner can be used and you can also keep a big wall calendar up for the whole family to see what is happening each week/month. You can also enter commitments electronically in your phone or computer and set reminders to let you know these dates are upcoming, especially doctor appointments and when to reorder diabetes supplies. If you have trouble keeping track of when to monitor blood sugars, administer medications, etc you can also set reminders for these. Check out more tips about getting organized here


9. Add some immune boosting foods to your diet

Now more than ever, it is important to keep your immune system healthy, not just in the winter (with seasonal colds and flu), but year-round to deal with Covid-19 and the stresses of daily life! In addition to practicing good hygiene, getting plenty of rest, exercising and managing stress, it is also beneficial to addi immune boosting foods to your daily diet as well. Powerful immune-enhancing foods you can include in your daily diet that are also appropriate for managing diabetes, include s citrus fruits, red peppers, tea, fermented foods and spices like turmeric and ginger Read here for more details and suggestions about immune boosting foods to incorporate into your diet.


10. Keep a positive outlook

Stress will always be present in our lives one way or another, but the way we manage it and having a positive outlook during tough times, can make all the difference. Learning to successfully handle stressful situations in a healthy way can help prevent the cascade of negative effects on the body, including increasing blood sugars. Positive coping methods to try include reframing negative thoughts, using a daily mantra, allowing yourself to laugh more, keeping connected with others, and carving out time for daily fun and enjoyment. Take a look at this post for more details on the power of positivity!