Diabetes makes your body less able to use the food you eat, especially sugar. This results in a buildup of glucose (blood sugar) in your blood.

Too much glucose in your blood can damage blood vessels and kidneys resulting in kidney failure.

Controlling your blood sugar if you have diabetes is essential to prevent kidney damage and other complications.

Controlling your blood sugar can be achieved by maintaining an appropriate diet, taking your medication as instructed by your physician and testing your blood sugar regularly.

An individualized diet specifically designed to control your diabetes can be determined by a Registered Dietitian.

In the meantime, begin by keeping your body weight at a healthy level; reduce the amount of food you eat and increase your physical activity to jump start weight loss.

Aim to consume three meals and a few timed snacks regularly throughout the day. Meals should be around the same time and never skip meals — this could impact your blood sugar readings.

Don’t forget to include complex carbohydrates, lean protein and heart healthy fats with all meals.

If you are having a craving for something sweet, optimal choices for the “sweet tooth” include sugar-free gum, sugar-free Jello, vanilla wafers, graham crackers, angel food cake, 100 percent fruit popsicles and drinks such as Crystal Light and fruit-flavored carbonated waters.

While these are fine when consumed in small portions, keep in mind some do still contain sugar and could increase blood sugar if eaten in large quantities.

On a regular basis, try to steer clear of candy, sugar, molasses, pastries, doughnuts, pies, cakes, cookies, sweet rolls, milkshakes, ice cream, sweetened juices, soft drinks and sugary breakfast cereals.

Try eating fresh fruit (in appropriate serving sizes) for snacks; canned fruit is a good option if packed in its own juice and drained before consuming.

Make sure to take your medication as directed by your doctor. Medications may include insulin injections or pills designed to help lower your blood sugar.

Avoid altering dosages without talking to your doctor first as this can cause dangerous blood sugar highs and lows; in addition, changing your medication may affect other medications you are taking.

A glucometer can assist you in testing your blood sugar. If you do not own a glucometer, your physician’s office may be able to help you get one at no cost and work with your insurance to cover supplies such as testing strips.

Remember to record your results and contact your doctor should if your blood sugar is too high or low, based on their recommendations.

Carey Stites is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and a Registered Dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. Carey is currently the Registered Dietitian working with Wellstone in Harker Heights. Contact her at carey.stites@smchh.org.

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