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Follow these 5 Golden Rules of Living with Diabetes

If you have diabetes, take these five golden rules to heart. They’re the most important things you should focus on to stay healthy, feel your best and prevent diabetes complications.

Rule #1. Take diabetes seriously. It’s a serious disease, but you can learn to manage it. Your doctor or health care team can help a lot, but you’re the MVP — Most Valuable Player — on your team. So commit to learning about diabetes and taking steps to manage it.

Rule #2. Embrace a healthy lifestyle. Eating a healthy diet helps to control blood sugar and prevent complications. Regular exercise, like walking, also helps keep your blood sugar in your target range. And when your blood sugar is controlled, you’ll feel better and have more energy.

Rule #3. Practice self-care. Your body needs extra TLC when you have diabetes, so daily routines are important. Take your medications as prescribed. Brush and floss your teeth daily. Keep your skin clean and dry and check your feet daily for cuts or sores. And test your blood sugar as recommended by your health care provider.

Rule #4. Get regular medical care. At least twice a year, your doctor needs to check that your medication is working and adjust it as needed. To prevent and catch complications early, you also need regular foot, eye and dental exams, along with blood pressure checks and cholesterol and kidney function tests.

Rule #5. Build your coping skills. Managing diabetes can be overwhelming, and most people benefit from extra help. Consider joining a support group or enlisting the help of a diabetes educator. Try to keep a positive attitude and take a problem-solving approach to bumps in the road. These tactics can all help you cope better and stick with your treatment.

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“Daily Care.” American Diabetes Association.

“4 Steps to Manage Your Diabetes for Life.” National Diabetes Education Program, NIH publication no. 13-5492.

“Skin Care.” American Diabetes Association, August 21, 2013.

“Tips to Help You Stay Healthy.” National Diabetes Education Program, NIH publication no. 12-4351.