Learn about the seven self-care behaviors that will help you manage diabetes for life.
Controlling blood sugar is not just about diet. Sure, what you eat, especially the carbohydrate content, will directly affect your blood glucose level - but so does exercise, medication use, stress, sleep, etc. The American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) has distilled effective diabetes management into seven key self-care behaviors. Click on each behavior listed to see more resources at AADE - they have cheat sheets in both English and Spanish.
Healthy Eating Learn how to balance your plate to avoid overeating carbs to fill up. Learn how to carb count and read food labels. Have a meal and snack goal for carbs.
Being Active Include cardio / aerobic activity as well as weight resistance activity (weights). Aim for 30 minutes x 5 days per week. Be active for at least 10 minutes at a time.
Monitoring Do you know how to use your blood glucose meter, strips, and lancets? Do you know when to test your blood glucose? Get your A1C test every 3 months if you are above goal (usually A1C > 7%) or every 6 months if you at goal (usually A1C < 7%).
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Taking Medication Do you remember to take all of your medications on time? Do you share your concerns with your doctor about not wanting to take medication or not being able to afford what you have been prescribed?
Problem Solving Are you getting unexplained high and/or low blood glucose readings? Are you keeping blood glucose, food, medication, and exercise records to help you troubleshoot problem readings? Do you plan for vacations or unusual changes in your daily routine?
Reducing Risks Do you have regular check-ups with your doctor, dentist, and eye doctor? Do you get blood pressure and blood cholesterol checked regularly? Have you quit smoking (if a smoker)? Do you take care of and check your feet daily? Do you take care of yourself when you get sick?
Healthy Coping One of the most overlooked behaviors is "Healthy Coping." People with diabetes have a higher risk for depression - and depression makes it harder to control diabetes. Are you getting the help you need? Have you experienced major life changes? Both happy and sad events can affect blood sugar control. Examples: job promotion, job loss, job stress, wedding, divorce, death of a loved one, birth of a child, pregnancy, moving household, relationship difficulties, etc. Would you benefit from a diabetes support group?
Talk with your doctor if you feel you need more assistance in any of these seven self-care behaviors. There could be resources available in your health plan or in your community that can help support your effort to manage your diabetes.