How to Manage Diabetes: 10 Top Tips from a Dietitian

Diabetes is a widespread metabolic disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. With its prevalence on the rise, understanding how to manage diabetes is crucial for maintaining good health and preventing complications. 

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition characterised by elevated levels of glucose in the blood. There are several types of diabetes, including Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, leading to insulin deficiency (1). Type 2 diabetes, the most common form, occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar effectively (1). Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy and can increase the risk of complications for both the mother and baby (1).

Risk factors for diabetes include genetics, obesity, sedentary lifestyles, and poor dietary habits. Common symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and blurred vision (2).

How to Manage Diabetes?

Managing diabetes requires a multifaceted approach that includes medication, dietary changes, regular exercise, and monitoring blood sugar levels.

Medication and Treatment: Medication plays a vital role in controlling blood sugar levels and preventing complications associated with diabetes. Treatment options may include insulin therapy, oral medications, or other injectable medications. It’s essential to work closely with healthcare professionals to determine the most appropriate treatment plan based on individual needs and medical history (3).

Dietary Changes: A healthy diet is fundamental to managing diabetes effectively. Focus on consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Limit the intake of refined carbohydrates, sugary beverages, and processed foods high in added sugars (3). 

Regular Exercise: Physical activity is essential for controlling blood sugar levels, improving insulin sensitivity, and maintaining overall health. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week, along with muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days per week (4).

How to Monitor Blood Sugar Levels?

Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels is critical for understanding how to manage diabetes. Monitoring devices such as glucometers and continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) allow individuals to track their blood sugar levels throughout the day and make informed decisions about medication, diet, and physical activity (4). It’s essential to learn how to use these devices properly, interpret blood sugar readings accurately, and understand the factors that can affect blood sugar levels, such as food, exercise, stress, illness, and medication.

How to Make Diabetes Lifestyle Changes?

In addition to medication and monitoring, knowledge on what habits makes an appropriate diabetes lifestyle can help you understand how to manage diabetes.

Healthy Eating Habits: Focus on eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods from all food groups. Choose high-fibre carbohydrates, such as wholegrains, fruits, and vegetables, which are digested more slowly and have less impact on blood sugar levels. Incorporate lean proteins, such as poultry, fish, beans, and tofu, and healthy fats, such as nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oil, into your meals (5). Pay attention to portion sizes and aim for balanced meals that include a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fat to help keep blood sugar levels stable.

Stress Management: Chronic stress can affect blood sugar levels and overall health. Incorporate stress-reducing techniques into your daily routine, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga or tai chi (6). Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing, such as spending time outdoors, listening to music, reading, or practicing hobbies. Prioritise self-care and make time for activities that help you unwind and recharge.

Sleep Hygiene: Adequate sleep is essential for overall health and well-being, including how to manage diabetes (2). Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night and establish a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Create a relaxing bedtime routine to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down, such as taking a warm bath, reading a book, or practicing relaxation exercises. Keep your sleep environment dark, quiet, and comfortable, and avoid electronic devices, caffeine, and stimulating activities before bedtime.

Top 10 Tips for Managing Diabetes

  • Maintain a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

  • Monitor blood sugar levels regularly and keep track of your readings.

  • Stay physically active with at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.

  • Take prescribed medications as directed by your healthcare provider.

  • Manage stress through relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.

  • Get enough sleep each night, aiming for 7-8 hours of quality sleep.

  • Avoid sugary beverages and processed foods high in added sugars.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

  • Don’t skip meals, and try to eat at regular intervals to keep blood sugar levels stable.

  • Stay informed about how to manage diabetes by attending educational programs or consulting with healthcare professionals regularly.

How to Create a Supportive Environment?

Building a supportive network of family, friends, and healthcare professionals is essential for managing diabetes effectively. Seek support from loved ones and communicate openly with healthcare providers about your needs, concerns, and treatment goals. Consider joining diabetes support groups or participating in diabetes education programs to connect with others who understand what you’re going through and learn tips and strategies for managing diabetes.


Managing diabetes requires commitment, dedication, and ongoing effort, but it’s entirely achievable with the right tools, knowledge, and support. By incorporating medication, dietary changes, regular exercise, stress management techniques, and healthy lifestyle habits into your daily routine, you can lead a happier and healthier life. Remember to work closely with healthcare professionals, stay informed about the latest advancements in how to manage diabetes, and never hesitate to seek help when needed.

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Diabetes Wellness Australia utilises a variety of credible and reliable sources to support and provide valuable insights into the topic being discussed. From academic journals to government reports, each reference has been carefully selected to add depth and richness of our articles.

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