Diabetes Resolutions: Starting Fresh and Fit

A new year always feels like a fresh start, a blank slate, a perfect reason to resolve to get healthier. It's also a time to move forward and put the past behind—so even if you've been less than vigilant about your blood sugar testing in the past, think of 2011 as a brand new opportunity to get your health back on track.

Here, some resolutions to consider for those with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, followed by a couple just for Type 2 diabetes.

  • With the holidays and temptations safely in the past, resolve to cut back back on all the simple carbs you might have been tempted to indulge in, says Caroline Bohl, MS, RD, CDE of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. Never mind all the eggnog, cookies, and fatty hors d'oeuvres that were so tempting in December. Let 2011 be the year that you learn to love complex carbs like whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables, and to use them in new recipes. Even if you try out just one new recipe using a complex carbohydrate per week, you'll be getting an extra dose of fiber, vitamins and other valuable nutrients.
  • Develop an ongoing relationship with your diabetes educator, says Gerald Bernstein, MD, director of the Diabetes Management Program at the Friedman Diabetes Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. Keeping your diabetes educator informed of what's going on with your health can make it a lot easier for him or her to help and guide you when issues arise. "Nothing is quite the same day in and day out when it comes to the human body," Bernstein says. "It's good to have someone to bounce things back and forth with."
  • Take a closer look at your diabetes self management, Bohl says. Chances are that you could tighten up.  "You may want to consider keeping a food diary, getting better at record keeping, and honing carbohydrate counting skills," Bohl suggests.
  • Resolve to get moving! "But think realistically," Bohl says. "When you go full force, you may not necessarily be able to sustain it." If you're new to exercise and enthusiastically enroll in Pilates, yoga and spinning classes, it's almost a given that you'll become a workout dropout. Instead, resolve to take a 30 minute walk five days a week.
  • Investigate whether you're up to date with all your medical appointments, Bohl says. If you're behind with your eye checkups, nutritionist or internist, resolve to schedule these appointments now.
  • Whatever resolutions you decide upon, make gradual changes, Bohl says. "It's a fresh new year but don't go to the extreme," she says. "You want to make changes, but you want them to be ones that you can stick with all year.

    If You Have Type 2 Diabetes

  • Ask your doctor about the possibility of reversing your diabetes through lifestyle changes, Bernstein says. "You can't change your genes but you can change the things that brought out the diabetes at a premature age," he explains. Both a lack of exercise and obesity can trigger diabetes. Combine these with a genetic tendency toward the disorder, he says, and Type 2 diabetes "can express itself at a very young age. But if you make the necessary changes, it can be put back to sleep."
  • If you or your spouse have Type 2 diabetes, help keep your kids healthy by making sure they get plenty of exercise and maintain a healthy weight.