You & Your Diabetes A-Team

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(BlackDoctor.org) — “I am the master of my destiny. I am the captain of my soul.”

This famous quote from Richard Hovey is a great quote to live by, especially if you are a diabetic. When you have diabetes, your health is really in your own hands. While this may seem disheartening, it is actually a good thing, since you have a great deal of control over your destiny.

Although you’ll be in the driver’s seat, your diabetes healthcare team is your most important resource for information and advice on developing your diabetes self-management plan. Your team consists of all of the healthcare providers who help take care of your diabetes and may include an endocrinologist, a diabetes educator, mental health professionals, a dietitian, nurses and other specialists. Sit down with various members of your healthcare team to construct the right plan to keep your blood glucose levels under control.

Your healthcare team will help you decide what elements are most important in your diabetes management plan. In general, diabetes self-management may involve:

• A diabetes meal plan. A meal plan guides you in making healthy choices for breakfast, lunch, dinner and between-meal snacks. Your diabetes meal plan probably will limit high-fat and high-salt foods and include plenty of high-fiber foods, fruits and vegetables, fish, lean meat, legumes, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products.

• Regular exercise. Most people should aim to get 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity, like brisk walking, on most or all days of the week. Exercise is good for your blood sugar levels and helps your heart as well. Your healthcare team can help you decide what types of exercise will be the safest and most effective for you, and how you can manage your blood glucose levels when you exercise.

• Weight management. Weight management is a great way to reduce your risk of complications and manage your diabetes, especially when you have type 2 diabetes. Talk with your healthcare team about a goal weight that is healthy for you.

• Stress management. Too much stress can cause your blood glucose levels to become elevated. Learn ways to handle your stress and make stress-management activities such as yoga, meditation and participation in hobbies part of your regular routine.

• Take medications as directed. Your diabetes medications are essential to keeping your blood glucose levels under control. It is important that you take them as directed by your doctor, even when you aren’t having any symptoms.

• Check your feet. Nerve problems can cause people with diabetes to develop foot problems, which can, in turn, become serious. So examine your feet daily for wounds, blisters, redness and swelling, and contact your doctor if you have a sore on your foot that doesn’t heal.

• Monitor blood glucose. Your healthcare team may recommend that you regularly check your blood glucose levels. Follow their instructions, and keep a record of your levels that you can take with you to your healthcare appointments.

• Quit cigarettes. Smoking can increase your risk of heart disease and other diabetes complications. If you smoke, talk with your doctor about strategies for quitting.

• Control blood pressure and cholesterol. Keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check is important to prevent heart disease, a common complication of diabetes. If you have high blood pressure or cholesterol problems, work with your doctor to manage them.

Make sure that you have a good understanding of what our self-management plan involves, and contact your healthcare team
if you have questions or run into obstacles along your way. By following a good self-management plan, you can gain better
control over your diabetes and avoid complications down the road. You’ll feel good doing it, too.

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