You might have type 1 diabetes, but diabetes doesn’t have to control your life. Living well and thriving with type 1 diabetes is possible. Whether you’re struggling with your busy Monday mornings or you’re dreaming of a weekend getaway, type 1 diabetes shouldn’t hold you back. Follow these simple, practical steps for living life with diabetes to the fullest.
Managing type 1 diabetes can sometimes feel like a burden. So it’s important to stay motivated to take good care of yourself. When you start to feel overwhelmed, it can help to think of a good reason to stay motivated. Some examples might be “I want to stay healthy for my kids” or “I want to manage my diabetes well so that I’ll be healthy when I’m older.”
On these harder days, remind yourself of your reason for staying motivated. Keep your reason on a sticky note and keep it in your purse, wallet, or smartphone for a quick pick-me-up.
If you’d like to manage your diabetes better and have an easier Monday morning, get organized. You can try making diabetes kits with insulin, syringes, snacks, glucose testing supplies, and anything else you might need to manage your diabetes. Stash a few kits around the house, in your car, and in your purse, gym bag, or briefcase. You’ll save time when you don’t have to search for the supplies you need.
If you often have trouble remembering to take medications, try using a pill box or keeping prescriptions by your toothbrush. You should also have the name and contact information for each member of your diabetes treatment team easily available, such as on the fridge or in your wallet.
Make meals easier
Following a nutritious diet is one of the most important things you can do to manage type 1 diabetes. Sticking to your healthy eating plan isn’t always easy, but preparation and planning ahead can make it much more manageable.
Try creating a meal plan for the week, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Keep your kitchen stocked with healthy and delicious foods so you’ll be less tempted to dine out. You can also try preparing meals in advance on days that you have more time.
For example, chop veggies and make brown rice on Sunday afternoon, so that you can prepare a quick and healthy stir-fry after work on Monday. Keeping nutritious snacks in your purse or car can help you to avoid unhealthy options when you’re on the go.
Dine out right
While cooking at home is usually healthier, you’ll still dine out from time to time. With some planning, it’s certainly possible to follow your healthy eating plan at a restaurant. To keep your blood sugar levels steady, call ahead for a reservation at your usual mealtime. Bring a snack with you if the restaurant doesn’t take reservations or if you’ll be eating later than normal.
When you call the restaurant, you can also explain that you have special health needs. Try checking the restaurant’s website to see a copy of the menu in advance. You may have an easier time making healthy choices if you decide what you’re going to order beforehand. Don’t be afraid to ask your server if you aren’t sure what ingredients are in a dish.
When you order, ask for sauces and dressings on the side, and substitute veggies or a salad for higher calorie side dishes.
Make exercise fun and easy
People with type 1 diabetes should get 30 to 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week. That isn’t always easy with a busy schedule, so plan ahead to stay active. Choose what type of exercise you’ll do on which days of the week, and stick to your plan. You’ll be more likely to exercise if you choose activities that you enjoy. Some ideas include swimming, going for a bike ride, or gardening.
If you’re having trouble finding the time each day to be active, try sneaking exercise into your schedule. Maybe you can ride your bike to work instead of driving, go for a 15-minute walk during your lunch break, or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Working out with a buddy can also make exercise more enjoyable.
Travel with ease
Traveling with type 1 diabetes doesn’t have to be stressful. Planning ahead can make your trip fun and carefree. Pack a diabetes kit with more supplies than you think you’ll need, in case any surprises happen. You may also want to bring your own meals and snacks when you travel. If you use an insulin pump, always travel with back up supplies, including basal insulin, in case the pump malfunctions.
If you’re traveling by plane, make sure you pack your diabetes supplies in a carry-on bag instead of checked luggage. Airport security can sometimes be a challenge for people with type 1 diabetes. Ask your doctor to write a letter explaining that you need syringes and other diabetes supplies to stay healthy. Bring the letter with you when you fly. If you use an insulin pump, it’s safe to wear your pump through an airport scanner, but make sure to let the security worker know that you’re wearing your pump. If you prefer, you can also get a special card from the Transportation Security Administration that lets workers know you have a health condition.
Type 1 diabetes doesn’t have to hold you back. People with diabetes can work, go to school, eat well at home and at restaurants, and travel. Remember that with a little planning it’s possible to do almost anything with type 1 diabetes.