13 Tips for Managing Diabetes


Type 2 diabetes is a long-term (chronic) condition, but you can still lead a healthy and active lifestyle with the right steps – like making regular visits to your healthcare provider and creating daily routines. Below are some of the recommended exams and tests as well as everyday behaviors that can help keep you healthy and your diabetes under control. 


1. Blood sugar checks

Remember that checking your blood sugar according to your doctor’s prescribed schedule tells you if you’re in the target range – a critical measure of whether you are managing your diabetes well. If your blood sugar levels are too high or too low, your healthcare provider may suggest changes to your diet or activity level. He or she may also adjust your medicine.

2. Taking medications

Whether you take insulin injections, pills, or both, doing so at the right times helps keep your blood sugar in check. Think about tools that will remind you to take your medicines the right way every day, such as an alert through your smartphone calendar or a visual reminder placed near something you use each day. If you’re having difficulty remembering, talk to your healthcare provider or team.

3. Foot checks

Check your feet every day for redness, blisters, cracks, dry skin, or numbness. Use a mirror to check the bottoms of your feet or ask for help.  Call your healthcare provider right away if your feet are numb or painful or if a cut or sore doesn’t heal in a few days.

4. Physical activity

Being active is important to everyone, but it’s especially critical for managing your diabetes. In short, being active helps lower your blood sugar by signaling your body to use your insulin as an energy source. It also naturally helps you manage your weight.  Ask your healthcare provider to help you build an activity program that's right for you, based on your age, general health, and types of activity you enjoy.  Start slow but aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise or activity each week.

5. Healthy eating 

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A healthy diet helps control the amount of sugar in your blood. It also helps you stay at a healthy weight or it can help you lose excess weight. Extra weight makes it harder to control diabetes. Your healthcare team can work alongside you to create a plan that doesn’t entail giving up all of the foods you love.  Have meals and snacks that include:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Lean meats or other healthy proteins
  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat or non-fat dairy products​

6. Mental well-being

In addition to caring for your physical health, it’s also important to pay close attention to your mental health.  Managing diabetes is a 24/7 job and can often lead to increased feelings of stress or depression.  Tell your healthcare provider if you are having trouble coping with your diabetes. He or she can help or refer you to other providers or programs.

Team Up with a Diabetes Educator

Quarterly to Biannually 

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7. Doctor visit 

Most people with diabetes need to see their doctor every 3-6 months.  At those visits, you will have a physical exam that should include checking your blood pressure and weight.  These checkups may also include lab work to test your A1C, kidney function, and cholesterol levels.

8. A1C test

Your healthcare provider will check your hemoglobin A1C at least twice a year, but often it is done every 3 months. This blood test shows how well you have been controlling your blood sugar over the prior two to three months. The results help your healthcare provider manage your diabetes.

9. Dental exam

Gum disease (also called periodontal disease) and other mouth problems are common in people with diabetes. To help prevent these problems, see your dentist every 6 months, and make sure to tell your dentist that you have diabetes.


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10. Eye exam

You may be experiencing problems with your eyes even if you don’t have 

trouble seeing. An eye healthcare provider (ophthalmologist) or specially trained optometrist will give you a dilated eye exam at least once a year. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you:

  • See dark spots
  • Don’t see well in dim light
  • Have eye pain or pressure
  • Have any other problems with your eyes

11. Flu shot

People with diabetes are at an increased risk for flu complications, even if their diabetes is well managed.  The Flu vaccine has been shown to reduce your risk of getting sick with the flu and reduces your risk of hospitalization and other serious complications if you do become sick. 

Talk to your healthcare provider about additional vaccines you may need such as pneumonia, shingles, and hepatitis B.

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12. Cholesterol test 

Having diabetes can affect your cholesterol by causing your “good” cholesterol to go down and your “bad” cholesterol to go up. This in turn puts you at a greater risk for heart disease and stroke.  A yearly cholesterol test is recommended but more frequent testing might be necessary if your cholesterol is high or you recently starting taking a cholesterol medication.

13. Kidney test

In some cases, diabetes can lead to kidney disease which is why it is important to have yearly kidney tests.  These tests include a urine test to detect protein in your urine and a blood test to see how well your kidneys are functioning. 

Type 2 diabetes is a challenging condition, but you can keep your symptoms in check by sticking to a routine schedule both daily and throughout the year. Work with your healthcare provider to set up a care schedule or make a commitment to stick your plan if you already have one. Looking for more tips and education? Click the button below to team up with a diabetes educator or join a support group. 

Team Up with a Diabetes Educator

The Northern Michigan Diabetes Initiative (NMDI) can also connect you to affordable testing supplies, recipes, classes, and more.