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My Health Counts! Living Well with Diabetes

Creating Your Diabetes Blueprint

Diabetes is unlike other diseases, such as high cholesterol and hypertension, where medication alone can sometimes successfully treat it. There are a lot of other components to diabetes—nutrition, monitoring, exercise and medication. It can be a tricky disease to manage, but the good news is there are a lot of tools available to help you manage it well. Diabetes is one disease you can really control with your actions-- what you eat, physical activity, how you handle stress, whether you take your medication and monitor your blood sugar levels. Working with your doctor and other members of your health care team, you can create your personal diabetes blueprint—a detailed plan that can guide you in your daily self-management and give you the power to control your diabetes. Make a plan with your health care team and stick to it.

The American Association of Diabetes Educators has identified 7 key behaviors that can help you with your daily diabetes care plan. You may have learned about these strategies from your doctor or diabetes educator or they may be brand new to you. Either way, these 7 key behaviors will help you live well with diabetes.

The seven self-care behaviors identified by the American Association of Diabetes Educators, called the AADE7™, are:

  • HEALTHY EATING Unlike a diet, nutritional management of diabetes usually involves dietary changes that balance moderation, carbohydrate control, and healthy eating choices. A registered dietician or certified diabetes educator can help you find a meal plan that works for you.
  • BEING ACTIVE Exercise is perhaps the most underutilized way to help control diabetes. Losing just 5%-10% of your weight can make a big difference. Exercise lowers your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. Do something active for about 30 minutes every day. You don’t have to go to the gym—taking a walk, cleaning your house or working on your garden count too!
  • Testing enables people with diabetes to see how certain foods, activities, and situations may impact their blood glucose levels. Talk with your health care team about what your blood glucose level should be. Check with your doctor to see what your goals should be.
  • TAKING MEDICATION Medication therapy is oftentimes needed to achieve glucose control. Did you know that approximately 50% of people do not take prescriptions correctly? If medication is part of your treatment plan, it is important to follow the prescription instructions. If you have trouble remembering to take your medicine keep a journal or set an alarm on your watch. If you don’t like the way your medicine makes you feel, talk to your doctor.
  • PROBLEM SOLVING Problem solving skills help you prepare for the unexpected. Your doctor, diabetes educator or other members of your team can help you develop these problem solving skills. Some of the more important skills you can master involve learning how to recognize and react to high or low blood sugar levels and learning how to manage sick days. Click here to learn more about steps to problem solving. Click here to learn more about diabetes and problem solving from
  • REDUCING RISKS There is a lot you can do to reduce risks—daily foot checks, regular visits with your health care team, annual dilated eye exams, regular dental visit (2 times a year), stopping smoking, and seeing a diabetes educator. Remember no one knows your body better than you, so you need to play an active role in reducing your risk. Make an effort to learn about complications and consistently track your overall health.
  • HEALTHY COPING Stress can affect your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. And for people with diabetes, this can directly impact your blood sugar levels causing them to spike or decrease rapidly.

Work with your doctor, diabetes educator, or other members of your health care team to help you fit these seven self-care behaviors into your life. Don’t forget to include your family and friends! They can be your partners in care and offer support and guidance.

Team Approach

No one can effectively manage diabetes alone, whether you have the disease or you're a physician caring for someone with it. Your health care team may include a primary care doctor, specialized doctors such as an endocrinologist or a cardiologist, an eye doctor, a registered dietitian, nurse practitioner, pharmacist, certified diabetes educator, social worker, foot doctor, dentist or even an exercise specialist. Together you can develop and fine tune an action plan for you! Remember, you are the most important member of the team. You help set goals—and members of your team provide the education and support necessary for you to achieve them.

Set your goal and create your action plan—click here.

Download the AADE7™ Self-Care Behaviors Handouts. Each one includes some facts, tips, advice and activities that will get you started on your self-care and reinforce some of the lessons you learn in your diabetes education sessions.

Diabetes Treatment

  • People with diabetes can lower the occurrence diabetes complications by controlling blood glucose, blood pressure, and blood lipids. Many people with type 2 diabetes can control their blood glucose by following a healthy meal plan and exercise program, losing excess weight, and taking oral medication. Some people with type 2 diabetes may also need insulin to control their blood glucose. To survive, people with type 1 diabetes must have insulin delivered by injection or a pump. Among adults with diagnosed diabetes (type 1 or type 2), 14% take insulin only, 13% take both insulin and oral medication, 57% take oral medication only, and 16% do not take either insulin or oral medication. Medications for each individual with diabetes will often change during the course of the disease. Many people with diabetes also need to take medications to control their cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Self-management education or training is a key step in improving health outcomes and quality of life. It focuses on self-care behaviors, such as healthy eating, being active, and monitoring blood sugar. It is a collaborative process in which diabetes educators help people with or at risk for diabetes gain the knowledge and problem-solving and coping skills needed to successfully self-manage the disease and its related conditions.