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February 21, 2012 > Manage Your Diabetes One Step at a Time

Manage Your Diabetes One Step at a Time

Learn How SMART Goals Can Lead to Success at Upcoming Seminar

Once you've been diagnosed with diabetes, there is no turning back the clock and there is no magical cure. Diabetes requires daily self-management and vigilance to keep your blood sugar in control and your health on the right path.

Keeping your diabetes under control can be challenging. Just about everything you do can affect your blood glucose (sugar) levels. What you eat, how active you are, and whether you are feeling stressed all have an impact on your diabetes.

"Self-management is critical to controlling your diabetes," says Vida Reed, R.N., a certified diabetes educator at Washington Hospital. "But it can be difficult. That's why learning to identify your specific needs and setting achievable goals is so important to successful self-management."

Understanding how to use medications, meal planning, and other aspects of controlling the disease can be complicated and sometimes overwhelming, particularly for people who are newly diagnosed, according to Reed.

"Everyone is different, so their response to medications, food, exercise, and other factors that can affect blood glucose levels is different," she said. "The Washington Outpatient Diabetes Center is here to help people find ways to manage the disease that work for them."

Reed will discuss the importance of setting goals in managing diabetes at an upcoming Diabetes Matters seminar titled "Are You Making Progress: Setting Goals to Manage Your Diabetes." The free lecture will take place on Thursday, March 1, from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium, 2500 Mowry Avenue (Washington West), in Fremont. Participants are also invited to stay for the diabetes support group that takes immediately after the lecture from 8 to 9 p.m.

The upcoming seminar will cover seven self-care behaviors that can help people with diabetes successfully manage the chronic disease, as well as how to set realistic SMART goals.

"The Washington Outpatient Diabetes Center works with patients to help them set and achieve their goals for diabetes management using the 'AADE7 Self-Care Behaviors' guidelines developed by the American Association of Diabetes Educators," Reed says.

Learning self-care and how to set realistic goals can also help people with diabetes figure out how to overcome some of the challenges of living with the disease so they can live a better quality life, she added.

The Self-Care Behaviors include:

* Healthy eating. Everything you eat affects your blood glucose levels. You don't necessarily have to give up the foods you love, but you may have to figure out how to work them into your meal plan.

* Be active. Physical activity has many health benefits that can help people with diabetes manage their disease. According to Reed, it can help you lose weight and keep blood glucose and cholesterol levels under control, but even if you don't lose a pound, exercise will help your heart health.

* Exercise. Start with activities that are easy to work into your daily life, like walking around the neighborhood or doing chair exercises.

* Monitoring. Regularly checking blood glucose levels helps to determine how well you are managing the disease and what modifications you may need to make to better control it.

* Taking medication. Whether you take insulin or other medications for your diabetes, it's important to understand what you are taking and why.

* Problem solving. Everyone with diabetes experiences problems with their diabetes control from time to time. Maybe you skipped a meal or engaged in physical activity, and now your blood sugar is too low. What do you do? It's important for people with diabetes to be able to solve these problems and get their blood glucose back on track.

* Reducing risks. People with diabetes are at increased risk for a number of other health problems, including heart, eye, and kidney disease. It's important to reduce that risk by keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control, avoiding tobacco smoke, and getting regular checkups.

* Healthy coping. The daily struggle of living with diabetes can cause people to feel stressed and even depressed. It's important to find ways to cope because stress can actually increase blood glucose levels.

The seminar is part of the hospital's free monthly Diabetes Matters education series. You can register online at or call (510) 745-6556 for more information.

Learn More About Managing Diabetes

Gaining a sense of control over your diabetes and sharing your struggles and successes with others who have the disease can help. To learn more about the diabetes support group that meets right after the Diabetes Matters education session each month or to learn more about Washington Outpatient Diabetes Center, visit

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