What Works: Readers' Diabetes Tips

We asked Diabetic Living readers to submit their best diabetes tips for living well with diabetes and taking control of their health. From cooking to weight loss, find out what works for real people with diabetes.

Diabetes Tips from People Who Know

Looking for information about living well with diabetes from real people who make the same daily decisions as you do? We've asked Diabetic Living readers to submit their best tips and compiled them here for you.

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Find a Mantra

The events at my work always seem to revolve around food, and some of my coworkers aren't supportive of my diabetes. In situations like this, one positive affirmation that I repeat to myself is: "Nobody can go back and start from the beginning, but anyone can start today and make a happy ending." -- Cynthia Lamp, PWD type 2; Baltimore, Maryland

-- Cynthia Lamp, PWD type 2; Baltimore, Maryland

Lose the Bun

When I grill a hamburger, I grill a large portobello mushroom cap (stem and gills removed) along with it. Then I place my burger in the grilled mushroom where the gills were instead of a bun to save on carbs.

-- Rosary Volpe, PWD type 2; Bayonne, New Jersey

Know Your Insurance

I was thrilled to learn my insurance company covers my costs to go to a gym each month. Check with your employer or insurance provider to see if this is an option for you.

-- Gloria Reitz, PWD type 2; Fontana, California

Liven Up Your Meter Case

To make testing my blood sugar more fun, I threw out the boring case my meter came in and found a colorful cosmetics bag as a replacement. Now the case looks like something I want to open.

-- Holly Doering, PWD type 1; Spokane, Washington

Make a Record of Medications

I record all my prescriptions, pump settings, and over-the-counter meds on a computer spreadsheet so I can keep it up-to-date and quickly print a copy when I'm going for a doctor's visit.

-- Donald Bauer, PWD type 1; Mapleton, Illinois

Inspiring Reminders

For inspiration and encouragement to make good food choices, exercise, and take my medications, I made myself an inspiration board out of clippings of pictures and words from Diabetic Living magazine.

-- Lisa Gerber, PWD type 2; Folsom, California

Measure Salad Dressing

I poured 2 tablespoons of water in a shot glass and marked the line with a marker. Now I can easily measure a portion of dressing or sauce.

-- Beatrice Horn, PWD type 2; Sun City Center, Florida

Travel Smart

On days when I'll be in the car for a long time, I always pack a nutrition bar, water or zero-calorie drink, and sugarless gum. These snacks keep me from being tempted to stop at a bakery or fast-food place.

-- Karen Seibert, PWD type 2; Bolingbrook, Illinois

Easy Reminders

Mornings are hectic. I make them easier by putting my meter and diabetes medication by the coffeemaker the night before. First thing in the morning, I start the coffee, then check my blood glucose and take my medication.

-- Joann Valentine, PWD type 2; Rockford, Ohio

Seek Professional Advice

I went to a dietitian. She took all of my likes, dislikes, and allergies, and came up with a meal and snack plan that I enjoy. Her guidance has helped me so much.

-- Becki Whittington, PWD type 2; Broomfield, Colorado

Satisfy with Sugar-Free Sweets

To satisfy my sweet tooth, I mix a little sugar-free gelatin powder into plain nonfat Greek yogurt. It adds flavor and sweetness.

-- Pam Bentley, PWD type 2; Danville, Indiana

Drink Your Vegetables

I know fiber can help with blood sugar control, so every other day I make a drink of blended vegetables and spices. By blending the foods instead of juicing them, I leave all the good, healthy fiber in my drink.

-- George Nakata, prediabetes; Portland, Oregon

Naturally Sweet Ice Cubes

For a fun summer drink for our residents, we freeze sugar-free lemonade in ice cube trays and place fresh berries in each one. Then we float the cubes in lemonade, water, or tea.

-- Smithsburg Senior Center; Smithsburg, Maryland

Nutrition Tracker

I cut the nutrition labels from foods I eat frequently and slip them into a photo album with plastic sleeves. That way I have a handy reference to track how many carbs I eat.

-- Gioia Forman, PWD type 1; McLean, Virginia

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Distinguish Your Insulin

I was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and started taking two types of insulin: one to take with meals and the other to take at night. To keep them separate, I tied a ribbon with a cupcake pattern to the insulin I take at meals, and I tied a ribbon with a stars-and-moon pattern to the insulin I take only at night.

-- Lacey Chance, PWD type 1; Medicine Lodge, Kansas

Editor's note: Mix and match different ribbon patterns that work for you!

Bring a Healthy Dish to Gatherings

I encourage others to make diabetes-friendly dishes for potlucks at church. That way everyone can eat healthy, and the people with diabetes will have options they won't have to feel guilty about eating.

-- Marilyn Temple, PWD type 2; Milford, Indiana

Ease Blood Sugar Testing Pain

I prick my finger on its side, as close to the nail as I can get, and use the lowest possible setting on my lancing device. It helps keep pain to a minimum.

-- Margaret Wynn, PWD type 2; Jacksonville, Florida

Share Your Meal Plan

I write all my meals in a log, and at the end of the week I e-mail them to my best friend. We help keep each other in check with our health plans.

-- Katie Diederichs, PWD type 3; Miami, Florida

Turn Exercise into Art

For motivation to take walks, I bring my camera along with me. I photograph the nature I find on my walks. Some of the photos even turn into great pieces of art!

-- JoAnne Kraft, PWD type 2; Waukegan, Illinois

Try New Recipes

I encourage my patients to try to add one new healthy recipe to their go-to recipe list each month. I find this is a great way to keep from getting bored with healthy eating. Also, it can be fun to step out of the comfort zone and try new things.

-- Angela Bianchi, RD; Rockford, Illinois

Manage Your Stress

After my weekly yoga class, I treat myself to a home spa night with relaxing music, a bubble bath, and candles. I get a one-two punch of exercise and stress management.

-- Monique Richard, PWD type 2; Johnson City, Tennessee

Plan Ahead, Even Just One Day

I've found that when I plan my meals and snacks a day in advance, I no longer spontaneously choose unhealthy foods throughout the day. That way I can also ensure that I eat five servings of fruits and vegetables.

-- Barbara Swecker, PWD type 1; Longview, Washington

14 Plate Method Meals Mini Cookbook

Play Games for Exercise

To keep my blood sugar level, I play sports games on Nintendo Wii for 30 minutes after meals.

-- Carmen Piccard, PWD type 2; Ozone Park, New York

Gather with People Like You

I'm part of a group called Dining with D-1s. We take turns hosting dinners where everyone brings a diabetic-friendly dish to share.

-- Jessica Pollack, PWD type 1; New York, New York

Musical Motivation

Every morning I turn on a good song, smile, and do a little dance. It sounds silly, but it's amazing how optimistic it makes me feel for the day.

-- Melanie Dorenkott, PWD type 1; Westlake, Ohio

Low-Carb Drinks While Dining Out

I order unsweetened iced tea or Diet Sprite at restaurants; then I flavor it with a Crystal Light packet. You can have any flavor of drink you want without the carbs.

-- Janie Sherrill Johnson, PWD type 2; Lebanon, Tennessee

Set a Medication Alarm

I set an alarm on my cell phone for 8:30 p.m. to remind me to take my Lantus.

-- Holly Riehn, PWD type 2; Jefferson City, Missouri

Watch TV on a Treadmill

To get motivated to exercise, I only allow myself to watch a favorite TV program if I'm walking on the treadmill as I watch it. Sometimes I get so involved in the program that I stay on the treadmill for an hour!

-- Jean Penwell, PWD type 2; St. Joseph, Michigan

Measure Foods to Save Calories & Money

I used to use up an entire container of creamer in just two weeks. But now that I measure out a tablespoon of creamer, it takes two months to use up one container. I was amazed at how much I was overeating before I started measuring food. It saves me grocery dollars, too!

-- Kim Wheeler, PWD type 2; Milton, West Virginia

Make an Easy To-Do List

I write small, easy-to-reach goals on a to-do list. My list may include something like drink a full glass of water before each meal or eat fish two times this week. Since I started writing a to-do list, I've lost 23 pounds, eat breakfast daily, and exercise more.

-- Michele Lessard, PWD type 2; Hauppauge, New York

What's Your Best Tip?

Send us your diabetes tip by mail or email. Please include your name, address, phone number, and your type of diabetes. If we print you tip, you'll receive $25.

Send to: Tips Editor, Diabetic Living, 1716 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309 or (type Reader Tip in the subject line).

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