Contact the Canadian Diabetes Association at 1-800-BANTING (266-8464) or visit www.diabetes.ca. They can supply you with excellent written materials on diabetes as well as connect you with resources available in your community.
Many chapters also have support groups where you can meet with other people with diabetes and learn from them. Make an appointment with your local Safeway Pharmacy diabetes meter technician. Come in to see the different types of meters and learn how to use one effectively. Ask your Safeway pharmacist for information about diabetes.Some cities have Safeway pharmacists who are also certified diabetes educators.
Ask if one of these pharmacists is located in your area. They are happy to meet with you and answer your questions. Ask at your Safeway Pharmacy if there is a grocery store tour going on in your area. These groups discuss healthy nutrition choices while touring different areas of the store.
Another key to diabetes management is being informed. Learn about your diabetes. Ask about different treatment options. Know what blood glucose levels you should be aiming for and check your blood glucose regularly to fine out what your levels are. Learn how various activities, events and foods affect your blood glucose levels. Ask your pharmacist about the names of your medications, how they work in your body, and what kinds of side effects they may cause.
Depending on where you live, there may be different ways to receive basic education about diabetes. Ask your family doctor or pharmacist what is available in your area.
Many cities have Diabetes Education Centres that offer diabetes education classes and have staff that specializes in managing diabetes. You may be able to sign up for basic diabetes education classes yourself or you may require a referral from your doctor. Some centres also offer one-on-one time with a nurse and a dietitian to assess your particular situation and provide individual teaching. These sessions usually require a referral from your doctor.
Some family doctor’s clinics also offer diabetes education right in the clinic. One-on-one visits with nurses, dietitians or pharmacists specializing in diabetes may be offered. Some clinics may also have diabetes education classes as well.
The next thing you need is a home blood glucose monitor to check your blood glucose levels. The information that you gain from checking your blood glucose is important to understanding your diabetes and your management choices. Monitoring devices available today are easy to use and can be almost painless. Safeway Pharmacies have specially trained meter technicians who will let you examine several different meters, help choose the one that is best for you and teach you how to use it. Some stores also have health care consultants with private offices for more consultation. If possible, please call the pharmacy before you come in to ensure the right person will be available to help you.
Meters vary in size, amount of blood needed, meter memory, computer download programs, speed and many other options. It is important to find one that you are comfortable with and will use. A piece of equipment is of no benefit to you if you are not going to use it. Have someone work with you to teach you about your new meter – ask your meter technician, pharmacist, or your diabetes educator.
There are many different times during the day when checking your blood glucose will give you important information.
A reading taken two hours after your meals tells you how your body is responding to the food that you ate. The recommended target level for most people with diabetes after meals is between 5.0 and 10.0 mmol/L. If you check your blood glucose first thing in the morning (before eating), and before meals, the target level for these times is usually between 4.0 to 7.0 mmol/L. Keep in mind that these are only general targets. You should discuss with your doctor or diabetes educator what the best time is for you to check your blood glucose and what are your optimal blood glucose levels.
The next question is usually “How often do I need to check?” You may want to start with at least once a day at various times. It is important that you find out what your blood glucose is at different times of day since the level changes as the day goes on. If you only check your blood glucose first thing in the morning, you will only know what is happening at one time of the day. You should work with your doctor or diabetes educator to decide how many times a day is right for you.
When you are ill or if your medication changes, it is always recommended to check more often. This helps you to know what is happening in your body and how your blood glucose is being affected.
If you are taking medications for your diabetes, checking your blood glucose also tells you how these medications are working. This is important information for your doctor, and helps determine if changes to your medication dose are needed.
Physical activity is a very important part of diabetes management. It is not necessary to join a gym or to wear yourself out! Activity can be as simple as taking a brisk walk. Before starting any new activity, talk with your doctor to be sure that there are no medical reasons why you should not participate in physical activity. If you have had very little activity lately, it is wise to start slowly – for example, a 10-minute walk every other day. Slowly increase until you are able to have a brisk walk for 30 minutes each day. Your muscles use the glucose in your body as fuel for their movement. Adding activity to your day allows your body to better use your own insulin. Find an activity that you enjoy and go for it!
Many people who have just been diagnosed with diabetes think they will now have to make a lot of changes to their food choices. Over the last decade or so, many recommendations about what a person with diabetes can eat have changed. For example, small quantities of sugar are okay for most people with diabetes. Today’s guidelines focus on healthy living.
People with diabetes are encouraged to follow Canada’s Food Guide and, more importantly, spread out their portions throughout the day. Since it is hard for your body to deal with large amounts of carbohydrates all at once, avoid eating a large amount of food at one time. It is the carbohydrate in food that is quickly turned into glucose in your body. Foods such as fruit, grains, cereal and milk products, as well as sweet items, all have carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are necessary for your body – they are an essential source of energy. You should not eliminate carbohydrates from your diet, but rather eat in moderation and spread out the portions.
One of the most common dietary dangers is drinking large amounts of regular pop or fruit juice. Both are very high in carbohydrates and can affect you blood glucose control. First of all, try to eliminate drinking any regular pop. If you would like to occasionally have fruit juice (100 percent juice, not “punches”, “ades”, or “drinks”), it is recommended that you only drink ½ cup at a time. It is always better to choose a piece of fruit than juice as it will have less impact on your blood glucose and better satisfy your hunger.
When you attend diabetes education classes, talk with the dietitian about healthy choices. You want to ensure that you are satisfying your nutritional requirements as well as eating what is best suited for blood glucose control. Until you can talk to a dietitian, base your eating on Canada’s Food Guide. You should spread you food out over three healthy meals per day and you may also want to include up to three healthy snacks.
Your new diagnosis of diabetes is not the end but the beginning. You have the ability to manage your blood glucose so that your risk of complications from your diabetes can be as small as possible. To do this, you need to learn to work with your diabetes and make some lifestyle changes. Remember you are human – don’t be too hard on yourself when your plan is not followed perfectly. Stick with the 80/20 rule – if your blood glucose levels are within your target ranges 80 percent of the time, then you are at a lower risk of complications. You are in charge of your diabetes and your future. Learn as much as you can and your future will be bright.