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Tips and Tools for Managing Diabetes

Medically reviewed by Robert Hurd, M.D.
Written by Laurie Berger
Updated on April 28, 2021

Checking blood sugar levels. Juggling medications. Counting carbs. Staying physically active. Watching for complications. Managing type 2 diabetes can be a demanding, full-time job. “I’ve had type 2 for 20 years, and I’m still trying to manage it,” shared one member of DiabetesTeam.

This metabolic disease can be hard to manage because it affects everyone differently. In some people, a healthy diet and exercise can control blood sugar. Others may need insulin or medications to manage it, and over time, new symptoms can unexpectedly pop up. “Diabetes is incredibly frustrating. Blood glucose readings can suddenly go mad for no obvious reason!” explained one member.

Tools for Managing Diabetes

The good news is there are many resources to help you cope with the physical and emotional demands of diabetes. Recent studies have found that diabetes apps can help lower blood sugar levels, promote weight loss, and improve self-care and overall health. The most useful features reported by people with diabetes? The ability to track blood glucose levels and keep a diary of food intake, according to a 2019 study.

When choosing the app that’s right for you, ask your doctor, diabetes educator, or dietician for recommendations that match your health needs and digital comfort level. Diabetes apps should supplement — not replace — care from a health care provider.

All-in-One App

Having just one app to manage all your diabetes needs can simplify your life even more. BlueStar is one of the top tools for people with type 2 diabetes. The award-winning app, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), provides actionable advice that helps users improve blood glucose numbers.

The app offers real-time coaching on blood glucose results and healthy food choices. It helps you organize medications, set reminders, and find diabetes-friendly recipes and meal plans. It also recommends healthy lifestyle choices. BlueStar syncs with your glucose meter, sending results to your health care providers.

BlueStar: Individualized Guidance from Welldoc on Vimeo.

The BlueStar diabetes app is available through select organizations only. For a limited time, it’s available to all DiabetesTeam members with diabetes.

This offer is valid through November 30, 2020. Visit the Apple App Store or Google Play to download the BlueStar Diabetes app and enter access code: DTeam92.

Get Started Now

Blood Sugar Trackers

Monitoring blood sugar is the most important part of managing diabetes. These apps typically sync with your glucose monitor to track blood glucose levels, insulin, and medications. They also send your data and charts directly to your physician for discussion. Some popular blood sugar trackers include mySugr (which promises to “make diabetes suck less”) and Glucose Buddy.

Diet Trackers

Having trouble counting carbs or calories, finding the right foods, or sticking to a diet? Diet trackers let you search huge food databases by calories, carbs, added sugars, and hidden ingredients. Some even provide bar-code scanners for quickly looking up nutrition info in the supermarket. You can get recipes and meal plans, and even customize an app for your personal nutrient needs. MyFitnessPal, Fooducate, and MyNetDiary are some of the most widely used healthy eating apps by people with diabetes.

Exercise Trackers

Physical activity can help you manage your blood glucose level and reduce the risk of diabetes complications. Fitness apps track your level of activity, heart rate, and hydration level, as well as provide reminders to move. They’re great tools for assessing whether your exercise level is supporting healthy blood sugar levels and overall health. The popular apps Fitbit and MyFitnessPal both sync with a wide range of fitness trackers.

Tips for Managing Diabetes

It’s common to sometimes feel like you’re failing at diabetes, and those feelings make it harder to take care of yourself. The following tips can help you cope with the ups and downs of diabetes.

Assess Your Level of Distress

Stress is bad for everyone, but particularly for people with diabetes.“I'm living proof that stress ups my blood sugar levels,” said one member of DiabetesTeam. This diabetes distress assessment can help you identify areas that are most troublesome for you. Your health care team or diabetes educator can discuss the results with you, and show you how to manage stress triggers — such as finger pricks, medication side effects, or new complications — when they occur.

Let Go of Perfection

It’s hard to manage diabetes perfectly. Even when sticking to a treatment plan, abnormal blood sugar results and symptoms can arise, making you feel like giving up. Before that happens, talk to your doctor about resetting your routine. A reset can help you feel refreshed, perhaps with a new medication or lifestyle approach.

Become a Diabetes Expert

Knowledge is power. The more you know about this confusing metabolic condition – and how it changes over time – the better prepared you’ll be to course-correct. Take a diabetes education class. Visit trusted online resources — they’re packed with valuable diabetes care advice on everything from blood sugar maintenance to clinical trials. Or test your diabetes smarts with one of these simple quizzes.

Manage Your Time

Diabetes is demanding. To avoid burnout, resist overcommitting. Make sure you have enough reserve to care for yourself, before spending precious energy on someone or something else.

Set Boundaries

Do you feel judged by others? Instead of feeling bad, ask for their help and support. You can also ask them to stop offering input entirely. “My ‘aha’ moment came when I began to set boundaries,” said one member of DiabetesTeam. “It reduced my dependence on other people, reduced my emotional eating, and helped me better manage my diabetes.”

Talk To Someone

Everyone feels blue or frustrated now and then. If you’re experiencing diabetes distress for more than a week or two, it may be something more serious. Find someone who understands what you’re going through. A social worker, diabetes educator, or psychologist can assist you in getting proper help.

Join a Support Group

Speaking with others who have diabetes — or joining a community that “gets it” — can help you understand your feelings and frustrations. DiabetesTeam, for example, is a safe place where more than 110,000 people with diabetes share experiences and advice, and lift each other up.

Remember to always speak with your doctor or health care team before stopping or starting a treatment plan, or a new diet, exercise, or mental health program.

You Are Not Alone: Finding Tips, Tools, and Support for Type 2 Diabetes

By joining DiabetesTeam, the social network and online community for those living with diabetes, you gain a support group more than 110,000 members strong. Finding tips and tools to manage type 2 diabetes is a frequent topic of discussion.

How does type 2 diabetes affect your life? Are you frustrated and overwhelmed with trying to manage the condition? Have you found helpful tools and apps to make the job easier? Share your diabetes care tips and experiences in a comment below or on DiabetesTeam.

Updated on April 28, 2021
All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

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Robert Hurd, M.D. is a professor of endocrinology and health care ethics at Xavier University. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here
Laurie Berger has been a health care writer, reporter, and editor for the past 14 years. Learn more about her here

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