Diabetes Management Plan: 8-Step Daily Checklist (2023)
Time to read 11 min
Time to read 11 min
Living with diabetes is a constant game of Jenga, where each block is an aspect of a good diabetes management plan. Get too reckless with one of those blocks, and the whole thing will come crashing down.
If you don't get organized and plan how to take care of your diabetes, it can be overwhelming. That's where a diabetes management plan comes in. It helps you keep your blood sugar level under control and improves the quality of your life.
In this article, we'll discuss the different aspects of a diabetes plan and an 8-step daily checklist to help you stay in control.
A diabetes management plan, or a diabetes care plan, is a tool that helps those with the condition manage their condition and improve the quality of their day-to-day life.
It tells you how to optimize your blood sugar levels throughout the day. A diabetes management plan considers your age, daily schedule, eating habits, physical activity, medications, and other factors that can affect your overall health.
Since diabetes is a chronic condition with tons of serious side effects, having a long-term diabetes care plan can help you stay on track and in control.
A diabetes care plan includes general and specific guidelines on how to manage diabetes and optimize your blood glucose levels.
It tells you what you should do and monitor every day, every three months, and every 6-12 months to control your blood sugar.
Here's what you can find in a diabetes care plan:
Part of your diabetes care plan is knowing when and how often to check your blood glucose level.
Some tests must be done at specific times of the day or around meals, while others can be conducted every few months.
For example, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) recommends doing an A1C test every three months.
This test helps your doctor determine how well you respond to medication and how close you are to treatment goals.
Your care plan should outline the type of diabetes medications you take, proper daily dosing, and what happens if you skip a dose.
It also tells you what to do if you experience low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) due to the medication.
For example, you might need to carry glucose tablets for treating hypoglycemia.
Your diabetes care plan should outline dietary restrictions or recommendations for optimizing your blood sugar levels.
It indicates your daily carb limit, what to do if you eat too much or too little, and how foods can affect your glucose levels.
A typical care plan includes weekly goals for exercise and helps you spread out physical activity according to your schedule.
It also considers the effect exercise can have on your blood sugars and adjusts your medication dosage accordingly.
Your healthcare team may add examinations and checkups to your diabetes care plan.
You must check your feet for cuts or blisters, get eye examinations, and follow proper dental hygiene. Kidney function tests and lipid profiles are also important.
All these factors will help you avoid potentially serious complications, which are common with poor diabetes control and high blood sugar.
You can't hit a target you can't see. A diabetes care plan tells you if you're on the right path and whether or not you're hitting treatment goals.
It empowers you to live a happier, healthier life, free of diabetes-related complications and health problems.
Several specialists can be involved in creating your personalized care plan and helping you monitor it.
A registered dietitian
School staff and the nurse's office (in case of a child's diabetes care plan)
Your doctor or diabetes care team
A certified diabetes care and education specialist
Your eye doctor
Now that you understand the parts of a diabetes care plan and how it works, let's explore the steps you can take to implement your plan.
Sometimes you need to notice when you have high or low blood sugar levels.
You might think you're doing everything correctly and following your diabetes management plan, but you have poor control of your blood sugar levels.
This is why blood glucose monitoring must be a part of your daily checklist.
Daily blood sugar tests can tell you whether your diabetes medications are effective. It can also help your doctor determine if your medication dosages need adjustment.
Depending on your records, your doctor might change your diabetes medication altogether, start you on insulin injections (or an insulin pump), or adjust aspects of your lifestyle.
Monitoring your blood sugar levels can guide your dietary and physical activity choices. Some food choices keep your blood sugars in the optimal range, while others have the opposite effect.
Take note of your blood sugar measurements in a logbook or the notes app on your phone. The American Diabetes Association encourages all diabetics to share these notes with their doctors so they can assess the effectiveness of their diabetes treatment plan.
BEST TIMES TO CHECK BLOOD GLUCOSE
You can measure your blood sugar levels any time at home using a glucometer.
However, it's common practice to check your blood sugar at the following periods:
First thing in the morning, before eating or drinking
Right before a meal
Two hours post-meal
Before going to bed
Gauge how well your diabetes is under control based on your blood sugar levels. In most cases, your pre and post-meal measurements will give you the best indication.
As a diabetic, you want your pre-meal blood sugar levels to be around 80 to 130 mg/dL and your 2 hours post-meal levels to be lower than 180 mg/dL.
Sometimes your doctor will prescribe diabetes medication when diet, exercise, and other lifestyle modifications aren't enough. These medications can help you control your blood sugar levels and prevent them from spiking or dipping.
The type of diabetes medications you take, whether oral medication or insulin injections, depends on the severity of your condition and how well you're responding to a diet and exercise plan.
Make sure to adhere to the dosing schedule, which is part of your diabetes care plan.
If you start any new cholesterol or high blood pressure medication, let your doctor or pharmacist know.
Some medications can dilute the effect of other drugs or cancel them altogether. Your healthcare team can help identify potential drug interactions.
Elevated blood glucose levels can damage the blood vessels in your feet. It's why those with diabetes are prone to foot problems, the worst of which is diabetic foot. Minor scrapes, blisters, and ulcers also heal much slower.
To make matters worse, you might not feel these small wounds because the high blood sugar also damages the nerve endings in your feet. You could have a severe foot infection and not even notice it.
In short, checking your feet for scrapes and signs of infection is necessary. Please make a habit of looking over your feet before going to bed, and make sure your skin is dry and intact.
Keep the following practices in mind to prevent foot problems:
Be thorough: Look for redness, cuts, and skin changes. If you have corns or calluses, consult your doctor before removing them to avoid leaving cuts or scrapes.
Wash your feet daily: Use warm water and soap, then dry them properly. You can use talcum powder between the toes to absorb moisture but avoid using lotions or water-based substances.
Don't go barefoot: Wear shoes that fit you properly and avoid walking barefoot. It's better to wear socks under your shoes, but make sure they're not too tight.
Keep the blood flowing: If a large part of your day involves sitting, wiggle your toes and circle your feet now and then to keep the blood flowing to your feet.
Bacteria, fungi, and other microbes thrive in glucose-rich environments. It's why high blood sugar levels can cause plaque buildup and lead to several oral health problems.
If left uncontrolled, your diabetes can eventually lead to gingivitis and gum disease.
The American Diabetes Association recommends brushing twice daily and flossing daily to avoid dental problems. Visit your dentist at least twice yearly to check your oral health.
Regular physical activity is a major part of your diabetes treatment plan.
Many prediabetics avoid taking medication altogether, opting to adjust their physical activity level and eat healthier. Regular exercise goes a long way for diabetics.
When you exercise, your body turns to glucose as a muscle energy source.
Exercise also stimulates your body to produce insulin, lowering blood sugar and better diabetes control.
Exercise doesn't have to include running or weightlifting. You can incorporate these activities into your exercise plan, but even light activities like gardening or staying on your feet count.
Ideally, you want about 150 minutes of aerobic physical activity per week. That's a little under 30 minutes a day, which isn't much, but add it to your diabetes care schedule, and you'll feel a world of difference.
Exercise also helps relieve stress, another factor that worsens diabetes.
You are what you eat. Your diet is the number one cause of high or low blood sugar levels. Whether you're diabetic or not, tracking your nutrition and meal planning can improve your overall health.
It's not just about what you eat but what combination of foods you consume and how you space your meals throughout the day. It's about finding the right balance between portion sizes and nutritional value without excessive dieting or being hungry all the time.
You can do carbohydrate counting if you don't follow a meal plan. Carbs are the primary source of glucose, and too much can lead to high blood sugar levels or hyperglycemia.
If you're on insulin therapy, you must count your carb intake and adjust your insulin dose accordingly. Eating too little carbs with your regular insulin dose can result in dangerously low blood sugar levels or hypoglycemia.
On the other hand, eating too much sugar or carbs can make it difficult for insulin to lower your blood sugar.
Your dietary intake should be proportionate to your diabetes medications. That's the secret to diabetes management.
If your blood sugars are relatively under control, you don't need to visit your doctor daily.
You can schedule follow-up visits with your physician or healthcare team every 3-6 months for a general checkup.
During this checkup, you'll likely do the following:
An A1c test: The test gauges your average blood sugar level over the past three months
Check your blood pressure: Diabetics are more susceptible to high blood pressure, stroke, and cardiovascular diseases.
Check your weight and waist circumference: Healthy weight loss can be a good sign that your diabetes is under control.
Review your medications: This is a must if you're taking insulin or have an insulin pump.
Review your lipid profile and kidney function tests: Diabetes can lead to elevated LDL cholesterol levels and kidney diseases, so you should check them every 6-12 months.
Dilated Eye Exam: Diabetes can lead to blurred vision, blindness, and diabetic retinopathy. It's why the American Diabetes Association recommends an annual eye exam.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), sleeping less than seven hours per night can make it harder to manage diabetes.
You'll feel hungrier the next day, which could lead to overeating, spiking your blood sugar levels.
Lack of sleep can also lead to insulin resistance, where your body produces insulin but doesn't use it effectively. This leads to poor blood glucose control and can make it harder for you to lose weight.
You also become likely to experience depression, anxiety, infections (because your immunity weakens), heart diseases, and other health problems.
Get a good night's sleep at the end of your 8-step daily checklist. It's just as important as the first seven for managing diabetes.
During regular follow-ups with your doctor and healthcare team, they might decide to change or modify some parts of your diabetes care plan. Here are the common reasons why:
As a diabetic, it's important to notify your doctor or care team if you become pregnant or intend to.
During pregnancy, your body undergoes hormonal and metabolic changes that can push your blood sugar levels out of their ideal range, making it hard for your medications to do their job.
You also need to follow several dietary and exercise restrictions during pregnancy.
Your healthcare provider will modify your care plan to avoid potential complications for you and your baby.
If you feel exhausted, urinate frequently, or are constantly thirsty, it could be a sign that your blood sugar level is too high or too low.
Measuring your blood glucose can help confirm your suspicions.
Your body might not respond to current medications, diet, and exercise plans. Your healthcare provider might alter your care plan, starting with minor changes like adjusting the dose or frequency of your medication.
If that doesn't work, they could switch you to a different oral hypoglycemic drug or add insulin therapy.
If you experience any significant lifestyle changes, such as changes in schedule, employment, level of activity, diet, or health conditions, your doctor might modify your care plan.
Illness or injuries can lead to changes in your lifestyle habits and affect your diabetes control, so keep your doctor in the loop.
They say the road to success is always under construction. The same goes for living with diabetes.
You must be constantly vigilant and follow your diabetes care plan daily to win the fight against diabetes.
Hopefully, this 8-step checklist can make your diabetes management plan a piece of cake. (Diabetes-friendly cake, of course.)