10 Diabetes Management Mistakes, and How to Correct Them

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People with diabetes make mistakes, just like everyone else. Below is a list of common diabetes management mistakes, and tips to help get you back on track.

 

1. Underestimating the benefits of exercise

Let’s face it, we all get lazy. It’s cold outside, or we don’t feel well. Days go by with no exercise. For people with diabetes, exercising is the difference between good management and complications. Exercise helps Type 1’s better use the insulin they take, and helps Type 2’s to decrease insulin resistance.

Plan for activity, and put it on your calendar. Short 10-15 minute walks or workout routines help lower blood sugar. Exercise in the morning to get it done. Get creative, and have fun.

 

2. Using food cravings to correct low blood sugar

Do you use foods that you crave to treat a low blood sugar, and then overdo it? Have you eaten a container of ice cream, or a big bowl of cereal to treat a low?

Try using glucose tablets, glucose gels, or juice boxes instead of food. You won’t be tempted to over-treat. If it happens at night and you don’t remember, speak with your HCP about correcting a nighttime low blood sugar. You could require less medication.

 

3. Missing doses of medication or insulin

When you’re busy, you can forget a dose of oral medication or insulin, which can wreak havoc on your diabetes management.

If you take oral medications, purchase a weekly medication dispenser, and pre-fill it once weekly. Set an alarm clock, or set the alarm on your cell phone to remind you to take your medication.  

 

4. Snacking excessively

Snacking from the bag, and eating too many salty or sweet snacks can sabotage your diabetes management. Instead of snacking from the bag, use mini zipper snack-sized bags to portion snack amounts. You can grab the right amount to take with you when you go out. Keep tempting snacks out of reach, out of sight, or, best of all, out of the house.

There are many low carb packaged snacks on the market, like KNOW Foods cookies and bars.*

 

5. Forgetting to adjust basal rates

Forgetting to adjust your basal rates for days with no activity, or for holiday meals, can make blood sugars spike unnecessarily.

Adjust your basal rate whenever you have a change in your routine. Meet with your insulin pump representative or certified diabetes educator to learn how to adjust your basal rates, and when it is appropriate to do so. Basal rate testing is also a good idea to determine correct basal rates.

 

6. Failing to pay attention to blood sugar patterns

When we think of our blood sugar as only a number, we miss the point. Checking your blood sugar is not done so that you can give your doctor a good list of numbers to go by, but so that you can look at, and manage your own patterns.

You could cut your carbohydrates, take a walk, or take more medication if needed for a high blood sugar after a meal. 

If you are having low blood sugar in the middle of the night, you may need your doctor to adjust your insulin dose. The point is, always use your blood sugars to adjust your self-management behavior.

 

7. Stacking insulin

Sometimes we forget how long the insulin we take stays in our system, and after eating a meal heavy in carbohydrates, we may be susceptible to stacking insulin, or repeated bolusing. Stacking insulin can lead to low blood sugar that can be hard to bring back up. Make sure you understand how long the type of insulin that you are taking stays in your system. That way you will know when it is safe to take more.

 

8. Not allowing enough time for pre-meal insulin to work

For some people, not taking insulin ahead of a meal, will lead to post-meal blood sugar spikes.

You can help to prevent these spikes by checking blood sugar earlier, and bolusing 15-30 minutes (depending on blood glucose levels) before eating. Some types of insulin (rapid, ultra-rapid) respond more quickly, so you may need to talk to your HCP about the right time for you to bolus based on your insulin.

 

9. Mixing up insulin pens

Mix up your insulin pens, and you end up injecting the wrong kind of insulin. 

If your insulin pens are similar in color, use different colored ribbons, or make a red warning label. Write, “Rapid,” or “Basal,” to remind yourself which is which. Keep your pens in separate areas. Keep rapid in the kitchen, and basal in the bathroom.

 

10. Failing to be in charge of diabetes

When you have a chronic condition like diabetes, it’s easy to get burned out. The problem is, that’s when things get worse.

It’s time for a refresher, and a reason to take the reins back. Try a support group, or take an exercise class. Talk to a close friend or relative about your struggles. See your doctor if you feel depressed. Read magazines and books for new recipes, and ways to motivate yourself. See this list of things that helped one young woman cure diabetes burnout.

*Disclosure: KNOW Foods has previously sponsored Diabetes Media Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes ASweetLife. This is not an affiliate link.

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Elisabeth Almekinder

Elisabeth Almekinder, RN, BA, CDE grew up in a small town in the piedmont of NC. The daughter of a country doctor, her father was sometimes paid with pies, chickens and goats. During snowstorms, Elisabeth made house calls with her father on horseback. During her time at St. Andrews Presbyterian College, she developed a love of writing and obtained a BA in English. For a time, she worked as a staff reporter at a small Southern newspaper. She went back to school and obtained a nursing degree. Her first job out of school was on the vascular surgery floor, where she saw many diabetics lose their limbs. She worked as an RN for 22 years in public health in South Carolina. In home health, she worked with diabetics helping them to develop treatment plans for self-management. At a small health department in the coastal region of North Carolina, she built up the Diabetes Self-Management Education Program there, and obtained her Certified Diabetes Educator credential. Elisabeth’s best friend from high school died at age 38 of complications related to diabetes that could have been prevented. She is dedicated to helping others with diabetes prevent devastating complications, and live a healthier life. She loves to write, and has started a full time remote freelance writing career, and contract CDE business. Elisabeth and her husband, Rolf, reside in a small coastal town in NC, near the intra-coastal waterway. She has a daughter at Appalachian State University, and a son at Charleston Southern University.

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