Each day, millions of Americans endure a regimen finger pricks, injections and questions about what they can and cannot eat.

They have diabetes.

According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 9 percent of the U.S. population is living with diabetes, a disease that affects the body’s ability to produce or respond to insulin.

When properly treated and managed, diabetes can be classified as a chronic condition that doesn’t necessarily have to have a negative impact on a person’s quality of life. But when diabetes management is too complicated or too much for someone to handle, it can have dire health consequences.

Thankfully, there are steps people can take to simplify diabetes management, make it more functional and help ensure that they are enjoying the highest quality of life possible.

Here’s a brief guide for functional diabetes management:

Eat Smart

Learning to eat smart is an incredibly important part of diabetes management. Eating on time is the first step towards eating smart. Avoiding foods that are high in sugar–fruit-flavored drinks, soda and candy–is the second step. Looking for opportunities to eat more whole grains, dark green vegetables and beans is the third.

Other tips include avoiding white bread, French fries and always asking for sauces and gravy on the side.

Stay Active

Exercise is one of the great equalizers when it comes to diabetes management. Committing to at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity five days a week can help you control your blood glucose, keep your weight down and manage your blood pressure.

You don’t have to join a gym or start training for a triathlon, but you should try to find something physical that you enjoy doing–and then do it!

Be Ready

It’s been said that the only certain thing in life is uncertainty, and that’s not necessarily good news for people living with diabetes.

Make sure you are ready for whatever life brings–natural disasters, emergencies or unexpectedly being whisked away for an around-the-world trip. Always have your insulin, medication and equipment with you and a go-bag at the ready.

Stay Healthy

Everyone wants to stay healthy, but it’s even more important for people who are living with diabetes, who are at greater risk of developing complications from otherwise common illnesses.

Make sure you take your medications correctly, see your doctor regularly and practice proper hygiene. You should also make sure to get a flu shot and make sure you have a plan in place should you get sick. People with diabetes need a little extra care when they come down with anything from the flu to the common cold. So work with your medical team and your family to ensure that you get what you need when you are sick–medicine, equipment, the right food and extra care.

These are things you are probably doing anyways, but they take on an added level of importance when you are living with diabetes.

Get Connected

With nearly 30 million people living with diabetes right now in the U.S., you are not alone. Hospitals and healthcare systems have committed a lot of resources toward education, treatment, diabetes management services and support.

Connecting with services is a great way to develop a diabetes management plan that works with your life, allows you to do the things you love, stay healthy. It’s also a great way to connect with people who understand what you’re experiencing.

If you want to learn more about diabetes management, connect with Derry Medical Services today to ask questions, find support and learn more about Diabetes 180, a lifestyle change program designed specifically for people living with the disease.