Making Lifestyle Changes

As part of your Diabetes Management Plan, you should adopt a lifestyle that includes:

  • eating a healthy diet
  • exercising regularly
  • getting to, or staying at, a healthy weight
  • avoiding unhealthy habits, such as smoking or drinking too much alcohol
  • getting enough rest
  • managing stress

These factors have been shown to have a direct influence on the success of diabetes management, so it's important to control and track these elements in your life.   

Start with a self-assessment of each of these areas and establish a benchmark — or starting point — so you can measure your progress. 

Ask yourself questions that identify:

  • patterns in your eating and physical activity  Do you have a schedule for eating? Can you create one? Do you have a time that works for getting exercise?
  • patterns in your sleep Do you have trouble falling asleep? Do you have a problem staying asleep?
  • your feelings about your diabetes Are your feelings causing problems with any of the above? Are you angry? Fearful about the future?

Once you examine these elements in your life, you can work to make improvements. You'll want to set goals that are:

  • reasonable (start small and make sure you succeed)
  • measurable (don't just say "I'll eat less." Say "I'll eat 300 calories less per day.")
  • scheduled ("I will re-assess my situation and change my goals once per month.")

If you find you cannot control these factors on your own, there are specialists in the fields of nutrition, diet, exercise, mental health and stress management who can be an important part of your diabetes management team.

Written by Bobbie Hasselbring

Reviewed by Beth Seltzer, MD

Last updated June 2008

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