Stay healthy with diabetes

There is plenty you can do — aside from eating healthy and checking your blood sugar regularly — to help manage your diabetes.

Take care of your teeth and gums

People with diabetes are at higher risk for gum disease, which can affect blood glucose control. Brushing and flossing your teeth, seeing your dentist regularly, and keeping your blood glucose under control all can help you maintain good oral health.

Maintain a healthy weight

Managing your weight is essential, and the first step toward doing just that is knowing your body mass index, or BMI. Determining your body mass index is easy: BMI is the measure of your weight in relation to your height. To calculate your BMI, use this simple formula: BMI = weight ÷ height in inches ÷ height in inches again x 703*. Or use a BMI calculator. A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. Find your BMI below and see what range you fall into.

BMI ranges

Underweight Less than 18.5
Normal 18.5 to 24.9
Overweight 25 to 29.9
Obese 30 to 39.9
Morbidly obese 40 and greater

*For adults only. A child's BMI is calculated differently. Talk to your child's health care provider if you have questions.

For more information on how to control your weight, visit our Find your healthy weight section.

Eat healthfully

Don't be fooled by the word "health" as it relates to food: the idea that if it's good for you, it must not taste good just isn't true. There are so many interesting and flavorful ways to prepare food without bringing unnecessary fats, sugar and salt into the mix. Within our Healthy eating section, you'll find countless ways to get creative without flaming out in the kitchen. We even have a multitude of fabulous recipes to get you jump-started on your culinary journey. You also can find great ways to enjoy your food through the American Diabetes Association.

Practice portion control

Do you know how much is on your plate? Most of us don't realize how much we are actually eating because we are accustomed to large meals. Try using a smaller plate when you are making your meal, and when you're tempted to go back for seconds, give your body 10 minutes in between. You may find that you're full after all. If you're still hungry, take a smaller serving the second time around. It's also helpful to know the difference between a portion and serving size. A serving size is a recommended amount of specific food, while a portion size is the amount of food you choose to eat. When you look at a food label, the nutrition information is per serving size — and what you consume may be more than one serving. Being mindful of this difference — and also of what you're putting into your body — can help you maintain a healthy weight. Learn more about how to successfully practice portion control.

Make time to move more

Physical activity is so important to maintaining a healthy weight — and also, to maintaining good overall health. Depending on what study you read and where, the amount of physical activity required per day or week may be different. But whatever recommendation you follow, ours is simply to get moving: as often as you can, and in as many different ways as you are able. Aerobic activity is great, but so is strength training and stretching. Whether it's mowing the lawn or climbing the stairs in your house or office, we encourage you to move more. Your body will thank you. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
  • Take a walk
  • Go for a swim
  • Ride your bicycle
  • Make circles with your arms outstretched
  • Lift soup cans (or weights of any kind)
  • Do squats
  • Try some push-ups off the wall
  • Stretch before and after exercise, or just stretch because it feels good
  • Join a dance club
  • Do yoga or Pilates
Not sure what is the best route to go with exercise? Your health care provider can help you begin — and plan out — your exercise regimen. If you aren't accustomed to exercising, start slowly. And if you're already in a groove and looking to kick it up a notch, be realistic about your goals.

Limit your alcohol consumption

Alcohol affects your glucose level, which is why it is best to avoid it altogether, or make drinking a rare exception. If you do want to drink, do so when your glucose is in the normal range. Being aware of how much you drink is important because drinking alcohol can cause hypoglycemia, a condition in which your glucose drops to dangerous levels. It's easy to overindulge in food and alcohol when you are with friends or at a festive or social gathering. Be aware of your triggers, and ask a family member or friend in attendance to remind you to slow down. If alcohol is a regular part of your life, talk to your doctor about the short- and long-term impacts on your diabetes and overall health.

Quit tobacco

It's no secret that smoking or using smokeless tobacco is detrimental to your health. Using tobacco of any sort can lead to many illnesses, including heart disease, cancer and stroke. Smoking and using smokeless tobacco raises your bad cholesterol and, also, your blood sugar. The kindest thing you can do for your health is quit. You know the risks and the reasons. When you're ready, we're here for you.