Living with type 2 diabetes presents certain challenges that may seem overwhelming at times. The following tips can help you develop a routine to take charge of your health while living life to the fullest.

Consult a dietitian

Following an appropriate diet is a well-known part of diabetes management, and enlisting the help of a professional is a great way to get started. Based on factors like age, weight, activity level and medications, a dietician can help you identify daily calorie and carbohydrate goals and create a custom eating plan that best meets your needs.

Get active

People with type 2 diabetes are often insulin resistant, meaning their bodies produce insulin but are unable to use it effectively, resulting in high blood sugar. Exercise and weight loss can improve insulin sensitivity, making it easier for your body’s cells to take in sugar from your blood. Losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can drastically improve glucose control and overall health.

Adding a brisk walk to your daily routine is a great way to get moving, but there are plenty of other options. Shoot for activities that elevate your heart rate enough that you have to catch your breath while talking – even climbing stairs and vigorous housework are simple ways to be more active. As a minimum guideline, try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, five days a week.

Preserve precious sight

Diabetes is a leading cause of vision loss in adults nationwide. Glaucoma, cataracts and retinopathy are potential complications of diabetes that can result in blindness if left untreated. Schedule an annual dilated eye examination with a qualified optometrist or ophthalmologist. Dilating your eyes will allow the doctor to check for symptoms of eye disease common in patients with diabetes. Early detection and timely treatment of any problems can prevent the majority of diabetes-related blindness.

Start off on the right foot

Elevated blood sugar can cause damage to your nerves and deaden the ability to feel pain, especially in your feet. Injuries can go unnoticed, leaving you prone to infection and other serious complications. A tiny cut on your heel could quickly become a very dangerous health problem if infection enters unnoticed and is allowed to spread. Sepsis and amputation are grave risks, and prevention is critical. Examine your feet each day for any signs of injury. If you are unable to reach your feet, a family member or friend can help out, and you can even use a mirror in a pinch. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, especially cuts, scrapes, blisters or inflammation, call your doctor right away.

Stop smoking

Smoking isn’t good for anyone, but it’s particularly harmful for people with type 2 diabetes. Smoking causes blood vessels to narrow, restricting circulation and increasing the risk of damage to legs and feet. Your doctor can help you develop a plan to kick the habit, or you can call 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669).

Brush up on dental care

Due to poorly controlled blood sugar, people with diabetes face a higher than normal risk of developing oral health issues like gum disease. In addition to basic brushing and flossing, keep your blood sugar under control and see a dentist twice a year to avoid gum disease and tooth loss.

Learn your ABCs

Diabetes increases your risk of developing conditions that can affect your nerves, heart, eyes, kidneys, teeth and more. Keeping track of your “ABCs” can help you stay healthy and active.

  • “A” is for A1c

    This biannual test is different from your daily blood sugar checks; it measures your average blood sugar over the past three months. The A1c goal for most people with diabetes is around 7 percent or less. Your doctor will help find the ideal number for you.

  • “B” is for blood pressure

    If you have diabetes, you are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure, which can lead to more serious health issues. The desired target for people with diabetes is generally below 140/90. Have your numbers checked two to four times a year to help keep your blood pressure under control.

  • “C” is for cholesterol

    High cholesterol is a common problem for people with diabetes. Often linked to obesity and insulin resistance, high cholesterol can contribute to heart disease and strokes. Be sure to get it checked annually.

Making lifestyle changes can take some getting used to, but your primary care physician, endocrinologist, family and friends can be a great source of support. Taking the first steps today to get your diabetes under control will help you secure a happy and healthy tomorrow.