Educate Yourself

Educate yourself imageDiabetes can affect your whole body. If you do not manage your diabetes, you can develop complications (problems).

However, diabetes is not difficult to manage if you take the proper steps. 

These steps include:

  • Keeping track of your blood sugar (blood glucose)
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising at least 30 minutes, five days a week
  • Taking your diabetes medications as prescribed
  • Having a support person who understands diabetes.

At the Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Health Center, our team of diabetes educators can help you develop the skills and confidence you need to manage diabetes.

Find a Diabetes Educator

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Physical Activity and Diabetes

Physical activity is a tool to help control your blood sugar. If you get regular physical activity, three positive things happen:

  • Exercise burns blood sugar. Just like driving a car burns gasoline, moving your body and exercising your muscles burns blood sugar.
  • Exercise makes your cells more sensitive to insulin. As your physical fitness gets better, your body needs less insulin to move blood sugar into your cells.
  • Exercise helps you lose weight loss. Regular exercise often helps you lose weight. If you have diabetes and are overweight, losing around 7 percent of your body weight can help lower blood sugar. Losing weight seems to clear a path for sugar to move from your blood to your cells. If you are already at your ideal weight, losing more weight will not help you control blood sugar.

People with diabetes should try to do 30 minutes of moderate exercise, like brisk walking, at least five days a week.

Adjusting to Having Diabetes

Learning that you have diabetes can cause many emotions. Some people feel concerned and anxious at first. Other people, especially if they have relatives with diabetes, are not as upset. Research has shown that people may feel mildly depressed when they learn they have diabetes, but also that most people feel better as they adjust.

Think of three ways you felt when you found out you have diabetes. Some people feel overwhelmed, and shut down (stop doing anything) to avoid dealing with having diabetes. Other people feel very anxious, get angry or feel sad and depressed. These reactions can also keep you from coping with diabetes, because you focus on your feelings, not on staying healthy. Although learning you have diabetes can be stressful, your feelings can be barriers, or blocks, to taking care of yourself.

To cope with your diabetes, you also need to cope with your feelings about the disease. Talking with a psychologist or a social worker can help. The Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Health Center has a child psychologist and a pediatric social worker to talk with patients and families.

You can also talk about your reactions with your diabetes doctor (endocrinologist) or family doctor. Your family and friends can listen to you, and encourage you to start taking care of your diabetes.

If you are overwhelmed or depressed about having diabetes, you may act in ways that don't help you stay healthy. For example, some people withdraw from others when they feel overwhelmed and depressed.

However, you need support when you first learn you have diabetes. Think carefully about how you could use help and then ask for that kind of support. For example, if you need someone to drive you to the Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Health Center for appointments, ask a friend or family member to drive you or arrange a ride.

It may also help to have other people arrange support for you. If you feel withdrawn several weeks or months after finding out you have diabetes, it may be time to get professional help from a trained mental health provider.

To talk with a social worker or child psychologist at the Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Health Center, call 503 494-3273.

Learn More: Behavioral Health

Social Support and Diabetes

Diabetes is a family affair. A person with diabetes will do better each day and in the long run if they manage their diabetes properly. If you or someone in your family has diabetes, try to learn as much as you can about it. This will help you understand the daily routine and avoid surprises. You can also teach other family members about diabetes, and get their help to support the person with diabetes.

You can also form a partnership with your doctor and the members of your health care team. Join organizations like the American Diabetes Association (ADA) or the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) to learn more about diabetes, including new research and treatments.

Learn More: Behavioral Health

If your child has diabetes, find out what the local chapters of ADA or JDRF offer in your community. See if they have a mentor program, where your child can get to know another child with diabetes. Connect your child with other children who have diabetes through community activities, online support and programs for diabetes support and education.