With New Year’s Eve only days away, we’re likely to find ourselves reflecting on the ups and downs of the past year. For the diabetics among us, it’s worth also reflecting on the successes and failures in our diabetes management. After all, the importance of effective diabetes management can hardly be overstated; failing to effectively manage blood sugar levels over a lifetime can lead to very severe complications, while persistent, effective treatment can allow for a relatively healthy and normal life.

In this article, we provide some food-for-thought to help you pick some resolutions that your future self will thank you for, as well as some tips on following through to accomplish whichever goals you set this year.

Sticking to Your Goals

Setting resolutions is a piece of cake but sticking to them is another beast entirely. To avoid finding yourself in the same position this time next year, consider the following tips for seeing your resolutions through.

Set small, achievable goals

There’s some truth to that old saying that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Setting lofty or abstract goals like “be healthier” or “find yourself” might feel good in the moment, but the difficulty of approaching these ambitious aims may cause you to procrastinate or abandon them entirely.

Instead, try to break your larger goals into smaller milestones with well-defined goals for success. Lay out the steps needed to meet each goal (and be specific!) and put them in a list. Converting big goals into many small, specific tasks removes a lot of the resistance to getting started and will allow you to tackle your problems in manageable chunks.

Ask for help

There’s no reason you should have to tackle your challenges alone. Recruit a few trusted friends or family members who you feel can be relied on for support. Share your goals with them and ask that they help hold you accountable. Sharing your goals will make them feel real, making you less likely to default on the promises you made to yourself.

Track your progress

Without a record of your results, it’s easy to convince yourself that you’ve been more successful than you really have. By deciding on objective metrics to track (like number of pounds lost, number of steps taken each day, or number of visits to the doctor), you can see precisely how effective your efforts have been in bringing you closer to your goal.

2023 new years goals

Resolution Inspiration

Get in shape

Just as obesity can contribute to developing type 2 diabetes, obesity also causes diabetes to worsen faster. Part of the problem is that obese people tend to have fatty deposits in the liver, where excess blood sugar would otherwise be stored. The excess sugar stays in circulation, causing strain to the pancreas and making the body less effective at producing or responding to insulin. Fortunately, the opposite is true here: losing weight can be beneficial to diabetes and keeping a healthy weight can limit your reliance on diabetes medications.

If you’re still not convinced, consider that diabetes and obesity both cause greater risk of heart disease, so if you have diabetes, it’s especially important to avoid excess weight. Staying active will also give your circulatory system a workout, making it more efficient and stronger, and less likely to experience heart disease or other circulatory conditions.

The ADA recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week[1] to keep your heart healthy and your body active. Daily exercise for 30 minutes, 5 times a week, is a simple, easy-to-track resolution that will likely pay dividends by this time next year. Try adding this to your list this year!

senior exercising

Re-connect with your healthcare providers

New Years can be a time to reflect on all the important relationships in our lives, and to resolve to strengthen those we neglect. We recommend including your doctors and other healthcare professionals in mind during this reflection, as these relationships can often fall victim to our busy schedules.

If you’ve been avoiding the doctor, resolve to schedule a check-up in the new year. Talk to your doctor about how often you should be seeing each other, and set a goal to keep up to date with your appointments. Your doctor will likely want to see you anywhere from 2 to 4 times a year, depending on how well your diabetes is being managed currently and the stability of your health overall.

Don’t forget to spread the love to the various specialists you might need to see, like your podiatrist, optometrist, and dentist. Certain parts of the body, like the gums, eyes, and feet, can be particularly prone to disease in diabetics, so seeing specialists in these areas regularly is an important part of keeping complications at bay.

Make a meal plan (and stick to it)

Dietary control is one of the core elements of successfully treating diabetes, so resolving to whip your eating into shape this year could be a good call.

There is no shortage of differing opinions on the best approach to eating. Some experts suggest that a diet that is high in lean proteins and healthy fats and relatively low in carbs (especially simple, refined sugars) can be an effective way to slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream. Others advocate for intermittent-fasting and other time-restricted techniques that aim to improve insulin sensitivity. Ultimately, you should seek the advice of a trusted healthcare professional who can advise you on your situation.

The bottom line, however, is that adopting a well thought out and reasonable plan for your food intake can help you avoid the chaos of eating whatever and whenever you want. And the good news about trying a diet is that, if it doesn’t work for you, you can instantly move on to greener pastures until you find an approach that works for you.

Healthy Cooking

Improve your hygiene habits

Most people could probably stand to be a little neater (teens, we’re looking at you). For diabetics, however, poor hygiene can bring about serious health complications. While no one likes to be criticized about their hygiene, resolving to adopt new hygiene habits or modify existing routines can go a long way towards avoiding some nasty complications.

Diabetes affects the circulation of blood throughout the body, and the effect is more pronounced in the extremities (think fingers and toes). Over time, limited blood supply can wear on the tissues of your extremities, and can cause infections or necroses to develop. In severe cases, amputation of affected parts can be necessary. Paying extra attention to the state of your feet is thus important, as early recognition of problems down there can improve the odds of successfully treating any issues. Be sure to keep your toenails short, address athlete’s foot, nail fungus, or any other foot infections that might crop up, and note any new sores or blisters in the area to your doctor. Also, avoid soaking your feet for prolonged periods of time, and make sure you are keeping your feet generally warm and dry throughout the day.

Teeth and gums are another area that can be problematic for diabetics. Consider becoming better acquainted with your dentist, and consult with them to make sure you are brushing, flossing, and rinsing adequately. Switching to sugarless gum and eliminating sugary drinks and candies are also solid choices for resolutions that can help stave off tooth decay and gum disease in the long run.

Extinguish your nicotine habit

Many decades ago, we could claim ignorance about the harmful impacts of smoking. That time has long since passed, however, and there is no shortage of information on just how bad cigarettes and other tobacco products are for our health. Diabetic or not, if you smoke, you should consider including quitting among your resolutions this year.

However, diabetics have an even greater reason to quit than others. In addition to causing cancer, one of the primary potential harms of cigarettes is an increase in the risk of heart disease. Diabetics already suffer from a higher risk of heart disease, and should therefore be extremely hesitant to add to that risk by starting or continuing to smoke cigarettes.

If you are unsure of how to stop smoking, or if you’ve previously tried and failed, know that there are abundant resources available to help. Talk to your doctor about cessation strategies that can give you far more power to quit than relying on willpower alone.

Putting out a cigarette

Cut the tension

Sugary diets and sedentary lifestyles are two of the culprits for poor diabetes outcomes that many of us are familiar with. But did you know that stress and anxiety can also be significant in determining the prognosis for diabetes treatment? Any successful diabetes intervention should consider stress and anxiety as factors to be managed to achieve better outcomes, and you should consider cutting these factors out of your life as a resolution this year.

The first step in managing stress is to practice mindfulness, which is simply the practice of becoming aware of our experience in the present moment. Checking in with our bodies and minds can help us build greater awareness of our state of mind and can allow us to recognize when stress and anxiety are beginning to boil over. By fostering such an awareness, we can appreciate our emotional state more subtly, and can employ various techniques to restore calm and peace of mind sooner.

Awareness of stress and anxiety are an excellent starting point, but we still need tools to deal with these emotions once they’ve been identified. Fortunately, many relaxation techniques exist to help us soothe our anxious brains, such as meditation, yoga, or regular breaks from the stressful parts of our lives. Try including one of these practices in your resolutions for this year and make a note of how your anxiety levels change by this time next year – you may be surprised how much better you feel, and your body and mind will thank you.

Senior male meditating

Conclusion

Whether you’re happy with how the past year has turned out, or whether you feel frustrated and resentful at your perceived lack of progress, the end of the year is an exciting opportunity to regroup and renew your determination. We encourage you to make the most of this New Year’s Eve by putting these tips into practice to achieve as much success as possible in becoming the healthiest possible version of yourself.

[1] https://diabetes.org/healthy-living/fitness/weekly-exercise-targets