You’ve probably heard lots of diabetes management recommendations from your health team. I know it can be overwhelming at times. However, your doctor and other health care providers do want to see you as healthy as you possibly can be – and they especially want you to avoid suffering from some very serious diabetic complications such as diabetic retinopathy, poor kidney function, diabetic neuropathy, and heart disease to name a few. With your doctor’s recommendations, you are your best daily caretaker. As a nurse and diabetes educator I’ve worked with thousands of diabetes patients and have come up with the most common and essential tips for successful diabetes management.
Know Your “ABCs”
- A1C – Your 3-month average blood sugar. Work with your doctor to achieve a level between 6.5%-7%.
- Blood Pressure – 130/80 is optimal. Test and record your blood pressure 3 times per week with a home blood pressure monitor.
- Cholesterol – “Good” cholesterol (HDL) level above 45 for men and above 50 for women. “Bad” cholesterol (LDL) below 100 if no cardiac disease, and below 70 if documented cardiac disease
- Triglycerides – Below 150
Use Your Glucose Meter Daily
- Glucose levels:
- Fasting in the morning 80-130 mg/dl
- Postprandial (after meal) Ideal is 150 mg/dl or below, acceptable is 180 mg/dl or below
- Bedtime 110-150 mg/dl
- Vary testing times and document results in a log book
- Use your control solution to test the first strip of every new bottle
- Use lancets only once and dispose lancets in heavy duty plastic container like a Sharps container
Inspect & Care For Your Feet Daily
- Use an telescoping self-exam mirror to see bottom of your feet
- Wear well-fitting shoes with support and cotton-nylon blend socks
- Never go barefoot, including not going barefoot in the house
- Consider a visit to the podiatrist (your insurance may cover)
- Never treat blisters, corns or calluses yourself
- Use lotion after your bath/shower on heels of feet
- Dry and apply power between your toes
- Neuropathy is common in diabetes and the lead cause of foot amputation
Maintain Good Vision Care
- Have a yearly eye exam with retina dilatation
- Report any vision changes immediately
- Wear sunglasses outside – always
Maintain Good Oral Hygiene
- Have a dental checkup and cleaning every 6 months
- Use a “complete” toothpaste and alcohol-free mouthwash
- Floss after meals to prevent periodontal disease
Carry Glucose Tablets
- Use when experiencing low blood sugar below 70 mg/dl
- Take 15 grams of glucose and wait 15 minutes, then retest blood sugar
- Repeat if still below 70
- If between 70-80, eat a protein and carbohydrate snack
Consider a Yearly Flu Vaccination
- Also speak with your doctor about a pneumonia vaccine
Monitor Your Kidney Health
- Have a urinalysis and monitor your microalbumin (protein) level which indicates the health of your kidneys
- Do aerobic type of exercise – a minimum of 150 minutes per week in 30-minute sessions.
- Walking, swimming and biking are good activities
- Work on balance and stretching
Learn to Read Food Labels
- Learn to read food labels and count carbohydrates
- Get a “portion” plate that makes it very easy to manage portions of meat/protein, fruits/vegetables, and grains
- Include fiber, vegetables, fruits, low fat dairy, lean meats and whole grains
- Drink plenty of water unless you are on fluid restriction
- Do not skip meals
Take All Medications as Directed by Your Doctor
Limit Alcohol – Ask Doctor for Recommended Amounts
NOTE: Consult your doctor first to make sure my recommendations fit your special health needs.
She is a member of the American Diabetes Association as well as the South Florida Association of Diabetes Educators. She worked with the education department of NBMC to help educate the hospital's in-patient nurses about diabetes. She practices a healthy lifestyle and has worked as a personal fitness trainer in the past.
She was one of the initiators of the North Broward Diabetes Center (NBMC) which started in 1990 and was one of the first American Diabetes Association (ADA) certified programs in Broward County, Florida for nearly two decades. Robbie has educated patients to care for themselves and has counseled them on healthy eating, heart disease, high lipids, use of glucometers, insulin and many other aspects of diabetes care. The NBMC Diabetes Center received the Valor Award from the American Diabetes Center for excellent care to their patients. Robbie has volunteered over the years as leader of many diabetes support groups.