Better Diabetes Management: Strategies to Keep Your 2024 Resolutions

By: Priscilla Thomas

Ready to take charge of your diabetes journey in 2024? As we dive into the new year, the key is not just setting resolutions but finding effective strategies to stay on track. Let’s explore common challenges and practical advice on accountability, tracking progress, seeking support, and keeping up your motivation to navigate the year successfully.

Facing Challenges and Finding Solutions

Challenge 1: Initial Enthusiasm vs. Long-Term Commitment

Solution 1: Set Realistic Goals

We all start the year motivated, but how do we keep it going? Start by setting realistic goals that you can actually achieve. Break down larger objectives into smaller, manageable steps. For instance, if your goal is to improve your diet, start with specific changes like incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your meal plan or reducing added sugar. Realistic goals provide a clear path to success and foster a sense of accomplishment, propelling you toward long-term commitment.

Challenge 2: Accountability Dips

Solution 2: Staying Accountable

Don’t be on this journey alone. Find someone who shares your health goals or understands what you’re going through. Partner up and set goals together. Regular check-ins and shared objectives will keep you motivated and accountable.

Challenge 3: Progress Monitoring

Solution 3: Use Tracking Tools

Tracking your progress is crucial to making progress. Use tools, such as diabetes management apps and digital health tools, blood sugar trackers, Bluetooth-enabled devices, continuous glucose monitors, or journals, to measure and track your blood glucose levels. These tools track your improvements, showing you where you’re succeeding and where you might need to adjust your approach.

Challenge 4: Dealing with Setbacks

Solution 4: Embrace a Growth Mindset

When things don’t go as planned, think of them as opportunities to learn and grow.  This mindset shift encourages resilience and a proactive approach to improve how you manage your diabetes. Look for support from your healthcare team or support groups to gain new insights and perspectives.

Challenge 5: Maintaining Motivation Over Time

Solution 5: Celebrate Small Wins

To stay motivated, it’s important to celebrate the small wins. Every step counts! Whether it’s hitting your step goals, making healthier food choices, or incorporating local produce into your diet, acknowledging these achievements keeps you motivated and committed.

Diabetes Resolutions for 2024 with a Southern Maryland Twist

As you step into the new year, here are some ideas to help you stay motivated:

  1. Embrace Local and Seasonal Produce: Explore Southern Maryland’s farmer’s markets and add some seasonal fruits and vegetables to your meals. Support local farmers while boosting your nutrition. Frozen, canned, and dried fruits and vegetables can also be healthy and budget-friendly choices.
  2. Savor the Seafood Bounty: Given Southern Maryland’s proximity to the Chesapeake Bay, enjoy local seafood favorites such as grilled or baked Rockfish (Striped Bass), or steamed Maryland Blue Crabs lightly seasoned and in moderation. These local favorites are healthy choices that celebrate the region’s culinary traditions.
  3. Balanced Spice with Local Flair: Just as Old Bay seasoning often adds flavor to Southern Maryland dishes, be mindful of sodium intake. Experiment with lower-sodium versions of Old Bay or create your spice blend to enhance the taste without compromising health.
  4. Explore Local Trails and Waterfronts: Get moving by exploring the beautiful landscapes of Southern Maryland. Take advantage of local waterfronts, parks, and trails  for regular walks to reduce insulin resistance and maintain your blood sugar levels within your target range. If it’s too cold out, try these exercises you can do at home.
  5. Connect with Local Diabetes Resources: Engage with local diabetes support groups and education programs. Connect with TLC-MD or with your local diabetes community to share experiences and stay updated on the latest management techniques within the vibrant Southern Maryland diabetes community.

By weaving these resolutions into your new year’s goals, you’re embracing a holistic approach to managing diabetes coupled with the rich culinary traditions of Southern Maryland. Each small step contributes to significant progress over time, ensuring that diabetes doesn’t hold you back from savoring the Southern Maryland way of life. Cheers to a healthier and more vibrant year ahead!

How to Fit Diabetes Management Into Your Lifestyle

By: Priscilla Thomas

Growing up, my siblings and I spent our summers in North Carolina with friends and family. As I got older, I started to realize that many of our relatives suffered from the complications of diabetes such as blindness, kidney disease, and heart disease. I often wondered if they had access to the resources they needed —could it have made a difference in managing their diabetes and preventing complications?

Diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) services are one of the resources that can help improve your diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol; lower the risk of diabetes complications; reduce hospital admissions; and improve your overall health. 

Whether you are newly diagnosed or have had diabetes for years, DSMES services can help you find ways to manage your diabetes that fit your lifestyle. 

Although we know the benefits of DSMES, the number of people with diabetes who access these services is very low (only half of adults with diabetes). TLC-MD’s goal is to increase awareness and reduce barriers so that people with diabetes have easier access to these services. DSMES is covered by many insurance plans. If the cost of the services is a concern for you, there are also free or low-cost resources available. To get started with DSMES, ask your healthcare provider for a referral

There are four key times to ask for a referral to DSMES services:

  • When you are first diagnosed with diabetes.
  • During your annual checkup or if your lab results or other health goals are not within range. 
  • When you have a new concern, new medications, or develop a new complication such as neuropathy (numbness in your feet), heart disease, or kidney disease. 
  • When you have a hospital admission or Emergency Department visit.

When you participate in DSMES services, you will:

  • Work with a Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (DCES) to set and track goals that will work for you. 
  • Improve or learn new knowledge, skills, and tools to help you feel more confident with managing your diabetes.
  • Develop and practice problem-solving skills to fit diabetes care into your daily routine. 
  • Learn how to get the support you need from your family, friends, and healthcare team.

DSMES services focus on seven key self-care behaviors:

  • Healthy Coping: Find the support you need and identify ways to reduce stress.
  • Healthy Eating: Learn the common myths about healthy eating and how to create an eating plan that meets your needs. 
  • Being Active: Discover how to include activities you enjoy in your daily routine.
  • Taking Medication: Learn tips to take medications as prescribed and how medications work together.
  • Monitoring: Know if you are meeting your treatment goals and if adjustments may be needed.
  • Problem-Solving: Identify problems, find solutions, and develop a plan to take action.
  • Reducing Risks: Take steps to lower your risk of developing complications.

No matter how long you’ve had diabetes, diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) can help you fit diabetes management into your lifestyle and make a difference in your overall health. Remember: There are four key times to ask for a referral; DSMES can help you gain the knowledge, skills, tools, and support you need to manage your diabetes; and a diabetes care and education specialist will help you develop or improve seven key self-care behaviors. Sometimes getting access to DSMES services can be challenging. You don’t have to do this alone. TLC-MD is here to support you and connect you to the services you need so you can thrive with your diabetes.

To learn more:

Enjoy your favorite foods and stay healthy this holiday season

Enjoy your favorite foods and stay healthy this holiday season

people eating

Holidays can be challenging with diabetes, but planning ahead can lead to a happier, healthier celebration.

Learn how to manage diabetes while still enjoying the holidays, including:

  • Time meals for steady blood sugar control
  • Stay active through family walks or even dancing
  • Bring healthy snacks to hold you over between meals
  • Savor your favorite holiday foods in smaller portions
  • Speak to your provider about adjusting insulin

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