Here are five ways to help you learn and implement important diabetes self-management practices.
The diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes
A Type 2 diabetes diagnosis can leave you feeling overwhelmed with a number of emotions. Of course, diabetes is a complex and serious condition, and living with it every day can be challenging.1 Part of that challenge is that the diabetes self-management of diabetes will largely rest in your hands; this can be daunting. Be kind to yourself and remember that small, positive steps every day will make a difference in the end.
Getting started with diabetes self-management
On diagnosis, you may feel overloaded with all the information that exists. Information about what to eat, how much to exercise, when to take your medicine and how to check your blood glucose as well as confusing terminology can leave you feeling more than confused and frustrated. On the other hand, you may feel that you know very little and are not sure where to start.
To help you make sense of it all, diabetes educators have identified a few key areas for diabetes self-management 1
Having diabetes does not mean you must give up your favourite foods. Over time, and through experience, you will learn how the foods you eat affect your blood glucose levels. Eating regular meals and making wise food choices will help to make your blood glucose levels more predictable and control your diabetes better.1
Work with a dietitian or diabetes educator to develop a healthy, balanced eating plan that suits your lifestyle. Remember that it is okay to treat yourself occasionally. You can also visit the Accu-Chek website and download the Accu-Chek portion plate, which will give you some practical tips on healthy eating.
Many studies have shown how important regular physical activity is for the management of Type 2 diabetes2. Regular exercise has been proven to significantly improve blood glucose control, reduce cardiovascular risk factors, and may reduce chronic medication dosages2. Consistent physical activity may also improve symptoms of depression and improve health-related quality of life2. Try to include a combination of cardio and resistance training into your weekly exercise and activity routine.
Self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG)
Monitoring your blood glucose levels in a meaningful way will enable you to understand more about the influence of events, such as exercise, stress, food and medications on blood glucose levels.3
This is called self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG). Many tools available can assist you to monitor your blood glucose levels. One such tool is the Accu-Chek 360 3-Day Profile Tool , which can be found on the Accu-Chek website . Complete the paper tool over three days, then with the help of your healthcare team, you can fine-tune your meal plan or portion sizes, activity, medications or other factors.
If you need assistance with the tool or your results, talk to your healthcare professional.
Alternatively, make use of a digital tool, such as mySugr app. The mySugr app is compatible with most smartphones and has more than 2 000 000 registered users worldwide.4 Pair it with a Bluetooth enabled blood glucose meter, such as the Accu-Chek® Instant blood glucose meter, automatically capture your readings (no need for a manual logbook), and share these with your healthcare professional.
Remember that you’ll need to agree with your healthcare professional what your specific testing schedule or structure should look like. In addition, you’ll discuss and assess what your individual target range for your blood glucose levels will be.
In the beginning, it may be confusing to understand whether your readings are in your recommended range. Consider making use of a blood glucose meter, such as the Accu-Chek Instant which offers a support tool called the target range indicator (TRI).5
In a study, 94% of study participants who made use of the TRI said that they were able to understand their blood glucose values more easily using this tool and that it would help them to have discussions with their doctor.5
You might need to take medication to help keep your blood glucose level within your target range. Diabetes can increase your risk for other health conditions, such as heart or kidney related problems, so you may need to take medicine to help with those, too.1
When you have diabetes, you learn to plan ahead to ensure you maintain blood glucose levels as much as possible within your target range – not too high and not too low. As we know, things do not always go according to plan. A stressful day at the office or an unexpected illness can send your blood glucose level in the wrong direction. This is normal and there will be good days, bad days and ok days. Here are some tips to cope1:
- Don’t beat yourself up. Managing your diabetes doesn’t mean being perfect.
- Analyse your day. Think about what was different today and learn from this.
- Discuss possible solutions. This can be with your doctor, your diabetes educator or even a face-to-face or online diabetes support group.
Join the Accu-Chek Facebook community and enjoy access to information,such as exercise tips, healthy recipes and other interesting diabetes articles.
- American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE7) Self-Care Behaviours. [online] Available at: https://www.diabeteseducator.org/living-with-diabetes/aade7-selfcare-behaviors [Accessed 19 February 2018]
- The Society of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes of South Africa Type 2 Diabetes Guidelines Expert Committee. The SEMDSA 2017 Guidelines for the Management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. 2017;22(1)(Supplement 1): S1–S192.
- Polonsky WH, Fisher L, Schikman CH, Hinnen DA, Parkin CG, Jelsovsky Z, et al. Structured Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose Significantly Reduces A1C Levels in Poorly Controlled, Noninsulin-Treated Type 2 Diabetes: Results from the Structured Testing Program study. Diabetes Care. 2011;34(2):262–7.
- mySugr app: Playstore & Apple store: Nov 2019
- Parkin C, Schwenke S, Ossege A, Gruchmann T. Use of an Integrated Tool for Interpretation of Blood Glucose Data Improves Correctness of Glycemic Risk Assessment in Individuals With Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2016;11(1):74-82.