How can I stay healthy if I have diabetes?

Nadine Pazder
Nutrition & Dietetics

If you have never attended a 10-hour diabetes self-management class, make that your very next step. In this class you will learn about how to take your meds, how to eat, why exercise is so important and how to exercise safely, sick-day management, the importance of self-blood glucose monitoring and when and how often to test, how to check your feet, and what other diabetes-related evaluations you should have during the year. Once you understand what to do to stay healthy the rest is really up to you.

The following are ways to stay healthy if you have diabetes:
  • Meal plan - What you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat all affect your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Ask to see a dietitian who knows about diabetes. Together, you'll design a meal plan that can help you reach your goals and include your favorite foods.
  • Physical activity routine - Regular physical activity helps lower your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. It also keeps your joints flexible, strengthens your heart and bones, tones your muscles, and helps you deal with stress. Based on your goals, you'll want to plan a routine that can include aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility exercises. You may need help from an exercise expert.
  • Balance physical and emotional needs - A major barrier to reaching target goals is diabetes burnout or depression. Tell your health care team if you need help with your emotional response to diabetes. Most health care professionals know someone who is an expert in diabetes and emotional issues.
  • Smoking - If you smoke, you're increasing your chances of diabetes problems, such as a heart attack. Ask your health care team about steps that can help you quit for good.
  • Taking aspirin - A daily aspirin may help lower the chances of a heart attack and stroke. However, aspirin is not safe for everyone. Talk with your health care team to learn if it would be safe for you.
  • Diabetes education - If you need a change in your meal plan or would like to learn more about your diabetes care, ask where to go to get help. There are a number of ways to learn more about diabetes, such as classes, support groups, websites, books, and videos.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has a list of high quality diabetes education programs. These programs meet special standards to help you learn to take care of your diabetes. To find a program near you, call ADA at 1-800-DIABETES or go to

Continue Learning about Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.