By: Meagan Esler
When dealing with a chronic illness, especially one like diabetes that requires 24/7 attention, it’s easy to take shortcuts and fall into bad habits. Ask yourself the following questions to find out if you might be drifting into a few diabetes bad habits:
Haven’t changed your lancet since Bush was president? Hopefully that isn’t the case, but a running joke in the diabetes online community is “You mean you’re supposed to change those?” I used to change my lancet so rarely that I’d end up using a dull instrument for days or weeks on end, but I’ve found that changing it more often helps me draw blood more easily, less painfully, and with far fewer germs.
Relying solely on how you feel to judge your blood sugar level? When I guess my blood sugar before I test, I’m often not far off the mark. So in the past, especially when I’ve been low on test strips, I’ve gone by how I feel instead of using the cold hard facts on my blood sugar meter. That’s a bad idea. It’s important to actually test your blood sugar because feelings can be way off. For me, it’s easy to confuse a low blood sugar with an adrenaline surge or nerves because I shake and get that fluttery feeling with both. We’ve all been surprised at an extreme low or high when we test. The only way to ensure safety is to test.
Think that cheesecake slice has only 50 carbs? You’ll probably end up wondering what happened when your blood sugar skyrockets or plummets after indulging. How many of us have thrown a package away without remembering to look at the carbs per serving? Instead of “eye-balling” carbs, take the time to look up the amount of carbs so that you can avoid rollercoaster blood sugar effects. Most restaurants have the information available, and, while it’s true that even these numbers aren’t foolproof, it’s worth taking the time even if you are a self-proclaimed carb-guessing master.
Haven’t moved from the sofa since you made those resolutions in January? It’s gorgeous outside in many areas, so now is a great time to get some fresh air and walk, jog, or ride a bike. My husband and I love to go to a nearby park and play Frisbee or throw around a ball. Now is the best time to change your workout habits. An expensive gym membership is not required–just let nature be your playground.
Eating too many processed high-carb munchies? Is there anyone who isn’t guilty of that one? Try shopping at the farmer’s market. You’ll likely be amazed at what you find there. My local outdoor market offers lots of low-carb goodies like spicy pickles, fresh veggies, dips, artisan cheeses, and olives. It’s fun to try new things. These markets are usually reasonably priced, and they keep me from getting bored.
Putting off that doctor appointment? We are all busy, and no one enjoys doctor appointments. Although seeing so many different doctors and specialists is time-consuming, finding an issue early can save you from unnecessary suffering. I’ve felt silly for waiting before, especially when a diabetes-related worry turned out to be nothing.
Managing diabetes can be overwhelming and easily lead to bad habits. Try working on your bad habits one at a time. I know I am. We are worth it!