Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are serious conditions, and can lead to the same complications. But you can do many things to stay well.

Talk to your doctor about all of the following points. They are important for basic diabetes care. Your doctor and your health-care team will work with you to ensure you get the best care. The important first steps are:

  • Eat according to a healthy meal plan;
  • Increase your physical activity; and,
  • Learn as much as possible about diabetes.

Are you heading in a healthy direction?

Keeping your blood pressure and blood glucose (sugar) at target will help you avoid diabetes complications such as heart attack, stroke, and damage to your eyes, nerves and kidneys.

Blood sugar

You and your health-care team should set goals for your blood sugar levels. It is important to recognize that you may need to add pills and/or insulin to your healthy living habits (healthy eating and physical activity), to achieve your blood sugar targets. A blood glucose meter will help you track your blood sugar levels.

Blood pressure

High blood pressure can lead to eye disease, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. You may need to change your eating and exercise habits and/or take pills to keep your blood pressure below 130/80 mm Hg.


High cholesterol and other fats in the blood can lead to heart disease and stroke. You may need to change your eating and exercise habits and/or take pills to keep your blood fats at healthy levels.

Healthy eating

Ask your doctor to refer you to a registered dietitian to learn about healthy eating. You may consider eating patterns that work well for diabetes (e.g. Mediterranean style diet, DASH diet) or diets that emphasize specific foods (e.g. low-glycemic-index foods).

Physical activity

Both aerobic and resistance exercise are important for people living with diabetes. If you have diabetes, you should do at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week. You may need to start with as little as five to 10 minutes per day of brisk walking. In addition, resistance exercise (such as weight training) should be performed two to three times per week. If you are just starting to be active, check with your doctor first.


Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight will help you control your blood sugar, blood pressure and blood fat levels.

Eye disease

Learn more about eye damage, or diabetic retinopathy. As part of your health-care routine, you need to be seen by an eye-care specialist who will dilate your pupils and check for signs of eye disease. Your regular doctor cannot do this special test in his or her office. Ask for a referral to an eye-care specialist.

Foot care

Take off your shoes and socks at every visit (even if your doctor or health-care team forget to ask you). Ingrown toenails, cuts and sores on the feet can lead to serious infections. Learn about proper foot care.

Depression & anxiety

These are common feelings in people with diabetes and can negatively affect your diabetes control. Speak to your doctor or health-care team if you feel you might have depression or anxiety.


Smoking and diabetes are a dangerous mix. If you are serious about quitting, your doctor or health-care team can help. Keep trying; your health is worth it.

Kidney disease

The earlier you catch signs of kidney disease the better. You must have your urine tested regularly for early signs of kidney disease. Your doctor may prescribe pills to delay more damage to your kidneys.

Nerve damage

Learn more about nerve damage, or diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Tell your doctor or health-care team if your hands or feet ever feel numb or have “pins and needles.”

Problems with erection

Trouble getting and maintaining an erection is a common problem in men with diabetes. Do not be shy about talking to your doctor or health-care team about it. They may be able to suggest ways to solve the problem.

Stay healthy by asking the right questions. Be informed. Know what tests you need to check for the complications of diabetes. Talk to your doctor and diabetes educators about these tests.

More information about diabetes care

  • It is important that certain visits with your health-care team focus specifically on your diabetes. Find out more about preparing for your diabetes-focused visit.
  • Your doctor may recommend different tests based on your health. Read a list of important tests for basic diabetes care.
  • If you have diabetes, you are at increased risk for heart disease and stroke, and other complications such as eye and kidney disease, nerve damage and foot problems. Learn your diabetes ABCDEs to stay healthy.

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