The SMART Way
Setting and sticking to goals for diabetes management can be a daily struggle. The truth is, setting a goal to simply be more active, take medication on time, or eat healthier is too broad. “SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. It provides an easy-to-use guideline to set goals,” says Green. SMART goal setting allows you to take a larger goal and break it down into smaller steps toward success, so a healthier lifestyle is within reach.
Specific The declarations I will exercise more or even I will take walks a few times a week communicate intention but do not set you up for action. Instead, take out your calendar and pen a more specific plan: On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I will take the first 30 minutes of my lunch break to eat and the second 30 minutes of my lunch break to walk.
Measurable Thirty to 45 grams of carbohydrates at breakfast is a reasonable goal for a person managing diabetes. Physicians recommend those carbs be consumed in the form of whole grains, fruit, and low-fat dairy – not refined grains like pancakes or white bread. The goal I will eat fewer carbohydrates is not specific or measurable. Instead, consider I will limit my carbohydrates at breakfast to 45 grams. Now you can pre-plan a list of breakfast options that meet this goal so you aren’t left guessing. For example: half a cup of cooked oatmeal with one cup of strawberries and one cup of low-fat milk. Or, one boiled egg, two pieces of whole grain toast, and one serving of sugar-free yogurt.
Achievable Make sure you have the data, the resources, and the physical ability to reach your goal. To better prevent and respond to unhealthy blood glucose levels, you will need a blood glucose monitor and a journal to log numbers and notes about the activities and foods that preceded a reading. With the proper tools, an achievable goal would be, I will measure my blood glucose after every two hours and watch for patterns in activity and diet that need to be discussed with my doctor.
Relevant How is your specific goal (fewer carbs) relevant to your overarching goal (lower blood sugar)? By limiting your carbs to 45 grams with meals, you will be more likely to add protein to your meal, which will leave you feeling less hungry and more satisfied while controlling your blood glucose levels.
Time-Bound Do not commit to a specific lifestyle change for the complete foreseeable future, or even for the rest of the year. “Setting a short period of time, say two weeks, to focus on your specific goal will help you decide at the end of the period if the goal works for you or if you need to set a different goal,” says Dr. Kinsey.