Did you know 11 percent* of adult South Carolinians live with diabetes?
Living with diabetes may be difficult, but BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina’s health coaches can help. If you are a BlueCross member with diabetes, you may have spoken with one of these coaches.
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s important to work with your doctor and other care providers to manage it.
There are many options to make your life easier, from finding the right foods for you to starting an exercise routine or finding a helpful resource.
For National Diabetes Month, Stephenie Brown, a health coach with BlueCross, offers some tips for tackling top concerns for individuals with diabetes.
1. Know what is important to you
Getting your diabetes under control takes planning, monitoring and a little effort. All of that takes motivation. Brown recommends knowing why getting healthy is important for you. Maybe it is being active and involved in your children’s or grandchildren’s lives. Maybe it is living a longer or fuller life. Whatever your reasons, know why you want to improve your health. This will give you the motivation you need to make changes.
2. Meal planning will set you up for success
Brown says this is one of the most requested pieces of information. Knowing how to prepare and plan what you want to eat each and every day is a challenge. The health coaches have the resources to help members find advice for planning food for every situation. Planning ahead, especially when you are busy or traveling (or heading into the holidays), can help you stay on track with healthy meal ideas. Find some ideas here.
3. Know your goals
Once you have your “why,” use that to set your “what.” Brown suggests focusing on one goal at a time and taking small steps. For example, remember to do one thing per day to make a change. The more you do that, the more those little changes will work into your routine.
4. Manage your numbers
One of Brown’s biggest recommendations is to know your blood sugar and A1C numbers. The more you track these numbers and understand what certain foods do to your numbers, the easier it will be to adjust your food and life choices. One of the most common questions she gets is which foods are OK. The easiest way to know the answer to that question is to track the numbers and know which foods work for you and which ones do not.
5. Be active when you can
Brown recommends that you start physical activity where you can. For example, if you have limitations, find activity that can work for you, such as chair exercises. Every little bit will help. Find some options for exercises here.
6. Take your medicine on time
Busy schedules can get in the way of taking medication on time, Brown says. This may be particularly true in the middle of the day or when you are at work. But know that taking your medicine on time is extremely important to properly managing your diabetes. This is where Brown suggests focusing on your motivations. Taking your medications as directed is key to achieving your goals and living a healthy life. Think about that when you hit a wall or try to put off taking your medications.
7. Focus on the positive
It can be discouraging when you make changes but don’t see a drop in numbers on the scale. Brown suggests focusing on the positive changes. Perhaps your clothes fit a little better. Maybe you’ve dropped 10 pounds. Maybe you understand your numbers better. Maybe you’ve planned your meals every week for a month. Every little change you make can lead to a reduction in complications and a healthier lifestyle. That is the point. Focus on the good and keep it up.
8. Know that good mental health is important
Making big life changes can have an impact on your mental health. You can always ask for help. BlueCross has resources to help with behavioral health issues.
9. Ask for help
BlueCross health coaches can help with motivation and with finding the right resources for your situation. Coaches will call members every three months, but if you like, you can ask that they call more often. Talk to the health coaches about the various ways they can help. Find more information about BlueCross health coaches here.
Celebrate your victories, Brown says. When you have a good day or you accomplish a goal, make sure you celebrate the hard work you did to get there. Every victory is worth the effort. Keep that in mind as you set your goals and work on making your life healthier.
*According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC is an independent organization that offers health information that members of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina may find helpful.