Do I Need Diabetes Education?

You’re diagnosed with diabetes. You’re familiar with the term, but how much do you really know about the disease?

Linda Gray, a diabetes education supervisor at Bethesda North, wants diabetics to know it’s all about self-management, and the best thing you can do for yourself is to get diabetes education to learn valuable skills.  

Why Diabetes Education?

As a person with diabetes, you need to be aware of the services offered and be proactive with getting help for yourself. Unfortunately, not all patients get referred for education once they are diagnosed and therefore, are not as equipped for self-management as they could be. Also, many insurance companies, including Medicare, recognize the importance of education and pay for the services, so long as you have a diabetes diagnosis. 

“Diabetes does not have to rule and ruin your life,” says Linda. “You can continue to eat your favorite foods, and do all of the things you love, but you have to work diabetes management into your life."  By remaining faithful in your management efforts, you’re going to remain healthy and will be less likely to develop disease complications, including:

  • Eye disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Loss of a limb

How Do I Become Educated?

TriHealth offers a support group that meets the second Tuesday evening of every month except June, July, August and December, and is free of charge. “We try to think beyond diabetes, and more into your lifestyle,” explains Linda. “It’s not just about the physical effect of diabetes, but how it affects your lifestyle as well. 

Support groups encourage attendees and remind them they are not going through this alone. Benefits of attending include:

  • Continuing education 
  • Camaraderie
  • Sharing solutions
  • Networking

Tips for Self-Management:

As we approach the holiday season, it’s one of the most difficult times to control eating for everyone, diabetic or not. Because there are large amounts of food readily available throughout the season, self-discipline is key to remaining healthy. “Diabetics need to have knowledge of what foods consist of, and how much is okay to have,” says Linda. 

Some foods are free, such as raw vegetables. Vegetables are often at most gatherings, and will not raise blood sugar, so feel free to indulge. Additional foods that will not affect your glucose levels include:

  • Meats
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Handful of nuts

If vegetables aren’t your thing, be mindful of sugary options, such as brownies and cookies. Also, Linda says her group does have handouts on holiday eating that provides carbohydrate information for many foods. Also included are tips on how to keep under control at buffets and while grazing at parties.

Sugar Free Options:

It is best to check labels on products before purchasing them, especially products like "sugar-free" cookies, ice cream and candy. Often if you compare the labels of a regular package of something like cookies with a package of "sugar-free" cookies, you will find that the carbohydrate grams are very similar if not the same. These products generally cost more “These products will usually cost more and won’t taste as good, explains Linda. “ It’s better to work the regular food into your carbohydrate budget for the day and enjoy what you’re having.”

Diabetes does not have to be a life changing diagnosis, but it should involve a lifestyle change. Linda wants people to know that life goes on, and you can still live very well with diabetes. 

*All professionals quoted in this article were affiliated with TriHealth at the time of initial publication.

Tags Diabetes