You’ve been diagnosed with diabetes. Don’t worry — you’re not alone. More than 1.5 million adults over 20 are diagnosed with diabetes each year in the United States.
That doesn’t make the news any more pleasant to hear. Despite the millions of other people who live with diabetes, this new urgency to monitor and control your blood sugar levels — and all that goes with it — can be a challenging addition to your life.
You’ll have to do things you may not be used to, like check blood glucose levels throughout the day, pay close attention to what you eat, manage your weight, plan meals, carefully read food labels, take care of your feet and learn how to monitor and avoid further complications.
A diabetes support system
The good news is there is now a vast support and education system in place for people living with diabetes. At diabetes centers, doctors, certified diabetes educators and dieticians will help you set up, and stick to, a plan to help you manage the disease.
They’ll also keep you current on the newest developments in diabetes self-management. “The techniques, tools and guidelines used are constantly changing,” says Shannon Knapp, a Certified Diabetes Educator from Cleveland Clinic’s Diabetes Center.
“Everything we do — diet, exercise, taking medications, checking blood sugar — is aimed at controlling blood sugars,” says Knapp. “Having blood sugars that are in our target range most of the time can significantly reduce the risk of getting long-term complications.”
Diabetes educators will work with you on:
- Monitoring your blood sugar levels
- Ways to control your weight
- Planning meals
- Reading food labels
- Exercise tips and goals to set for yourself
- Reducing risks and looking for early signs of complications
- Current research findings
- Travel tips
- Community resources like diabetes classes
The most important thing to know about diabetes, emphasizes Knapp, is that it truly is manageable — though sometimes it may not feel that way. That’s where diabetes educators like her can help.
“If you feel like diabetes is controlling your life, meeting with a diabetes educator can help you learn how to get back in control,” Knapp says.