How to Manage Diabetes

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Being diagnosed with diabetes can be scary and confusing. The good news is there are many tools and resources you can use to help you learn about diabetes and live well.

Where can I go to learn about diabetes?

If you have been newly diagnosed, speak to your doctor about a referral to a Diabetes Education Program (DEP). DEPs offer free diabetes information and nutrition education to residents of Ontario. Some DEPs also accept self-referrals. 

What should I eat? 

Learning about healthy eating and diabetes will take some time. The good news is there is a lot of support and information available. Registered Dietitians who work in DEPs can give you trusted nutrition advice tailored to your needs.  Need healthy meal and snack ideas? Try out our Diabetes Menu Plan. Do you enjoy ethnic foods? Print one of these Healthy Diabetes Recipe Booklets designed for South Asian, Chinese, Caribbean or Latin American tastes.

Should I be physically active? 

Yes. Try to be active for at least 150 minutes per week. That’s about 30 minutes a day on five days of the week. You can start with just 10 minutes at a time. Choose activities you enjoy and ones you can do together as a family. If you are new to physical activity, speak to your health care provider before getting started. For more tips read Physical Activity and Diabetes.

Should I monitor my blood glucose levels? 

Speak to your health care provider to see if you need to test your blood glucose levels at home. If you do need to test, your health care provider can tell you how to get a blood glucose meter and how often to test. It is important to monitor your blood glucose according to the advice from your health care team.  

What else should I monitor?

You should visit your doctor regularly to monitor your A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol. A1C is a blood test that shows how well your blood glucose levels are being managed over a long-term period.  Because diabetes can affect other parts of your body, it is also important to get your feet, eyes and kidneys checked as well. You can work with your health care team to determine which tests you need, and how often you need them. Read more about lowering your risk of diabetes-related complications

Do I need to take medication? 

Even if you eat well and exercise, you may still need medication to keep your blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure at healthy levels. Follow your doctor’s instructions about when and how to take all your medications. If you have side effects, speak to your diabetes care team.

What else can I do to help manage diabetes? 

If you smoke, try to quit. Talk to your doctor or diabetes care team if you need help to quit smoking. You can also call the Smoker’s Helpline at 1-877-513-5333 or visit On the Road to Quitting

Bottom line

Managing diabetes is about eating well, staying active, monitoring your health and taking prescribed medications. Talk to your healthcare provider about finding a diabetes education program in your area and managing your diabetes. 

You may also be interested in 

Diabetes complications
Diabetes Glossary
Diabetes Menu Plan

Last Update – November 7, 2018

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