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New Ulm Medical Center

Health benefits of managing type 2 diabetes

New Ulm resident John Stovall, 50, has lived with type 2 diabetes for more than 15 years. At first, he had trouble managing his blood sugar — and it led to some unwanted health problems.


Annette Haynes, NP

“My doctor told me that if I wanted to see my daughter graduate, I'd better start taking my diabetes seriously,” said Stovall. “This is the wake-up call I needed.”

With the help of Chris Miller, MD, and the rest of the health care team at the New Ulm Medical Center, Stovall has been able to turn his life around and get a handle on type 2 diabetes. “Now I see my doctor every three months, and we are on the same wavelength,” said Stovall. “I drink diet pop, and I cut out fast food because you are really what you eat. At home, I try to walk everywhere around the farm instead of taking the four-wheeler. If you stay upbeat and take your meds, life’s full of more pleasures.”

At first, a diagnosis of diabetes can feel overwhelming, but working closely with your doctor and making a series of gradual improvements can help you manage the condition, just as it helped Stovall.

“Complications of diabetes develop over time and more quickly if diabetes is not kept under control,” said Annette Haynes, a nurse practitioner and a certified diabetes educator at the New Ulm Medical Center. “The risk of complications can be decreased through good management of diabetes and by controlling blood glucose (sugar).”

Managing Diabetes: General Tips

To help you do just that, Haynes recommends sticking to the following list of “do’s” and “don’t’s”:

  • Follow your doctor’s dietary recommendations, and see a dietitian for additional assistance. “Good nutrition is an important part of diabetes management,” says Haynes. “People with diabetes should work with their diabetes health care team to develop an eating plan that meets their personal food preferences while keeping blood glucose in a healthy range. By choosing nutritious foods and balancing what and how much you eat with activity level, blood sugar levels can be kept as close to normal as possible.”
  • See your doctor regularly.
  • Don’t forget to take your medicine.
  • Manage your weight.
  • Ask your doctor when and how often to test your blood glucose.

Exercise Tips

When it comes to managing diabetes, exercise is almost as vital as nutrition to your overall health. “Physical activity and exercise can lower your glucose level and help your body use insulin better,” said Haynes.

  • Before beginning a fitness routine, be sure to talk to your doctor.
  • Check your blood sugar level before and after exercising. If it’s too low, eat or drink something before you start out. Keep some candy or juice handy, in case your level drops sharply.
  • Try to exercise for 30 to 45 minutes at least three times a week.
  • Dehydration can affect blood sugar levels, so drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise.

Take Care of Your Feet

High blood sugar can cause nerve damage and poor blood flow. These conditions can lead to serious problems with the feet. Here are some tips for protecting your feet:

  • Get a foot exam at least once a year.
  • Inspect your feet every day for scratches, sores, swelling, or redness.
  • Wash and dry your feet every day.
  • Break in new shoes slowly.
  • Never walk barefoot, even at home.
  • Check inside your shoes for pebbles or other objects before putting them on.

For more information about diabetes, visit our Diabetes Care/Education page at this link.

Source: Health Edition September 2011
Reviewed by: Annette Haynes, NP
First Published: 09/09/2011
Last Reviewed: 09/09/2011