8 Mistakes People With Diabetes Make

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
  • people-crossing-street
    Everyone Makes Mistakes
    When you have diabetes, it's important to learn from your mistakes. That can help prevent other health problems, like weight gain and high blood pressure. You can learn from other people's mistakes, too. Read on to discover common pitfalls with diabetes. It could help you avoid them and achieve your treatment goals.
  • insulin
    Mistake #1: Not Storing Insulin Properly
    Keep insulin as cool as possible, but not frozen. Insulin doesn't work as well if it gets too warm or too cold. If that happens, it will not control your blood sugar levels properly. It should not be stored at room temperature in a kitchen cabinet, desk drawer, or bedside table. Also, keep insulin out of the sun. Instead, keep insulin cool in the refrigerator. While traveling, be sure to keep insulin in a cooler.
  • blood sugar, diabetes
    Mistake #2: Not Checking Blood Sugar Properly
    If you don't check your blood sugar levels the right way, the reading you get could be wrong. Be sure to put the test strip all the way into the glucose meter. Wash your hands before testing. Also, don’t squeeze your finger too hard to get a blood sample. It's a good idea to closely watch while a doctor or nurse uses the meter to test you. Then, copy what they did and try it yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Getting accurate test results is very important. 
  • woman-taking-insulin-before-meal
    Mistake #3: Not Following Your Insulin Routine
    Set a schedule for your insulin injections. Then stick to it. Doing this can keep your blood sugar levels from spiking too high or dropping too low. Different foods will affect your blood sugar as well. Stress, physical activity, and illness also will have an effect. Checking your blood sugar regularly will help you control your condition. You don’t have to figure this out alone. Your doctor can help you set up a schedule that works for you. If you take pills for diabetes, it’s important to take them on schedule every day.
  • Man grocery shopping
    Mistake #4: Skipping Meals
    Don't skip meals. Your blood sugar may drop too low when you do not eat regularly. This is especially true if you’ve already taken your diabetes medicine. Instead of eating one or two big meals, eat several small meals during the day. It’s important to avoid foods high in salt, sugar and fat. Your diet should include lots of fruits and vegetables, beans, whole grains, fish, and lean meats and poultry. Does this seem like a lot to think about? Then talk to your doctor, a nutritionist, or a certified diabetes educator. They can help create a meal plan that is right for you. 
  • exercise2
    Mistake #5: Not Exercising Regularly
    Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and feel more energetic. It also helps insulin lower your blood sugar levels. Be active on a regular basis. Then see how your blood sugar responds to exercise. Tell your doctor about what you observe. This helps your doctor know how to adjust your insulin schedule to keep your blood sugar levels steady. If you are active only once in a while, it is harder to predict your insulin needs. A random bout of exercise could cause your blood sugar level to drop too low. So, try to be active for about 30 minutes every day. 
  • feet
    Mistake #6: Ignoring Your Feet
    Many people with diabetes have some form of nerve damage. The first sign of this often is numbness, tingling or pain in the feet. These symptoms may be easy to ignore at first, but they could get worse over time. Prevent bad foot problems by checking your feet every day. Look for swelling, cuts or blisters. Moisturize your feet and trim your toenails regularly. It’s also important to keep blood flowing to your feet. You can do that by wiggling your toes and moving your ankles 2 or 3 times a day. Also, don't sit with your legs crossed for a long time.
  • Doctors
    Mistake #7: Not Getting Regular Checkups
    Don’t forget to follow up with your doctor on a regular basis. Diabetes can affect many parts of your body. It raises your risk of heart disease, kidney disease, infections, and gum problems. Your doctor may send you to a specialist to treat one or more of these issues. It’s also important to visit an eye doctor at least once a year. People with diabetes are more likely than others to have eye problems.
  • Exercise
    Mistake #8: Setting Unrealistic Exercise Goals
    Set reachable goals. That's especially important if you haven't been active for a while and are starting a new exercise routine. Doing too much too soon can leave you sore and discouraged. You could even get hurt. Set specific goals. Don’t say you're going to walk more. Instead, say you will walk briskly for 10 minutes every day during your lunch break.  Remember that losing just 5% to 7% of your body weight can make a difference in how well your body uses insulin—making your diabetes easier to manage. 
8 Mistakes People With Diabetes Make
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  2. Mistakes Happen. American Diabetes Association. Oct 28, 2013. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/parents-and-kids/family-communication/mistakes-happen.h....
  3. Insulin Storage and Effectiveness. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Jul 10, 2013. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/EmergencyPreparedness/ucm085213.htm.
  4. Set an Exercise Goal & Make a Plan. American Diabetes Association. Dec 18, 2013. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/fitness/get-and-stay-fit/setting-exercise-goals.html.
  5. Diabetes Meal Plans and a Healthy Diet. American Diabetes Association. Dec 19, 2013. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/diabetes-meal-plans-and-a-healthy-diet.....
  6. Insulin Routines. American Diabetes Association. Sep 6, 2013. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/medication/insulin/insulin-routines.....
  7. Taking Care of Your Diabetes Every Day. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Aug 8, 2013. http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/type1and2/daily.aspx.
  8. Foot Care. American Diabetes Association. Mar 11, 2014. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/foot-complications/foot-care.html
  9. Diabetic Neuropathies: The Nerve Damage of Diabetes. U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Nov 26, 2013. http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/neuropathies/ - symptoms.
  10. Complications. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/.
  11. Visiting Your Health Care Team. American Diabetes Association. Nov 1, 2013. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/whos-on-your-health-care-team/visiti...
  12. Eye Care. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/eye-complications/eye-care.html.
  13. Insulin Resistance and Prediabetes. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Jan 22, 2013. http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/insulinresistance/ - symptoms.
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Nov 7
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.