Diabetes Self Management Goals: Healthy Eating, Lifestyle Changes and Exercise for Diabetes Control

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Diabetes affects nearly 24 million people in the United States, according to the American Diabetes Association. More than double that have prediabetes. Diabetes doesn’t have a cure, but through medications and self management, it can successfully be treated. To gain control over your blood glucose and prevent diabetic complications you need to set diabetes self management goals.

Identifying Goals

The first step in setting your goals to gain control over your diabetes is to identify what you need to do for self management. Do you need to reach a healthy weight? Do you need to change habits from sedentary to active? Are there any bad habits, such as smoking or excessive drinking, that need to be addressed. Make a list of your goals and discuss them with your health care provider. Don’t be afraid to speak up and to find a doctor willing to work with you to personalize your goals. Your health care should be individualized to make sure you can live a vibrant life.

Nutrition & Weight Loss

Many diabetics struggle with weight loss. Losing as little as 5 percent of your body weight can help, but reaching a healthy body mass index can actually eliminate the need for medication in type 2 diabetics and prevent prediabetes from developing into type 2. Working with a nutritionist can help you create a healthy eating plan. Some basics that you need to learn for diet and self management include proper portion sizes, how different foods–such as simple carbohydrates–affect your blood glucose levels, when to eat, how many calories to eat per day based on your weight and activity level, and keeping a food log. Educate yourself about food–the information you learn can help instill a desire to reach your goals. It is important to be realistic with your goals, as well. A healthy weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week is very good. Though it might take time to get to your goal weight, the gradual process helps prevent yo-yo dieting.


Many people feel they don’t have the time or energy to exercise. Once they start, however, they notice an increase in energy levels and begin to feel healthier. Exercise is a crucial part of managing your diabetes. Muscle tissue uses glucose more efficiently than fat, so building lean muscle will help you gain control over blood glucose levels. In addition, exercise helps burn fat, gives you energy, reduces stress and can be a social activity. Making time to exercise isn’t as hard as it seems. In as little as 20 minutes every day you can add in some light weight lifting and calisthenics alternated with interval training. The combination boosts metabolism and builds muscle. Even with a very busy schedule, you can find time to do 20 to 30 minutes of exercise, even if it is while you watch your favorite TV show or take a brisk walk with your dog.


Among the most difficult diabetes self management goals are the lifestyle changes. Many people can learn to eat healthy and add in activity, but their lifestyle sets them up for relapses into bad habits. Changing those underlying habits can go a long way to improving the ease of meeting your other goals. For example, if you tend to go out to eat frequently to places that serve a lot of salty, junk food, alcohol and allow smoking, you will have to fight temptation. Instead, choose to eat out at places that set you up for success. Seek help if you need to quit smoking or have any kind of dependency. It is important to be realistic and kind to yourself when setting goals. Instead of viewing occasional lapses as failures, try to view them as an opportunity for you to learn what your emotional triggers are and how to avoid them in the future.


American Diabetes Association: Diabetes Statistics - https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diabetes-statistics/?utm_source=WWW&utm_medium=DropDownDB&utm_content=Statistics&utm_campaign=CON

NDIC: What I Need to Know About Diabetes and Eating - https://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/eating_ez/index.htm

NDIC: What I Need to Know About Physical Activity and Diabetes - https://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/physical_ez/index.htm

ADA: Living With Diabetes - https://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/