Diabetes self-care behaviors

Our team supports you medically and with a strong emphasis on the American Association Diabetes Education (AADE7™) Self-Care Behaviors for successful management of diabetes: monitoring, taking medication, healthy coping, healthy eating, problem solving, reducing risk and being active.

Healthy eating

If you've just learned that you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, you probably have a lot of questions about what you can and can't eat. Do you wonder if you can ever have your favorite food again? What happens when you are eating at a restaurant or a friend's house? Do you have to change your entire diet just because you have diabetes? The answer is NO.

There is nothing that you can't eat. You don't have to give up your favorite foods or stop eating at restaurants.

But, it is important to know how your food choices affect your blood sugar. Learning to eat regular meals, in a healthy portion for you, can help you manage your diabetes better and prevent other health problems.

Being active

Being active is not just about losing weight. It has many health benefits like lowering cholesterol, improving blood pressure, lowering stress and anxiety and improving your mood.

If you have diabetes, physical activity can also help keep your blood sugar levels closer to normal and help keep your diabetes in control.

Did you know that breaking activity into three 10-minutes sessions throughout the day is as good as one 30-minute session? This can help you fit exercise into your schedule.


The only way to know how well your diabetes management plan is working is to check the amount of glucose that is in your blood throughout the day, every day. Monitoring helps you know when your blood glucose levels are on target. It also helps you make food and activity adjustments so that your body can perform at its best.

Your diabetes educator can help you learn:

  • How to use a blood sugar (glucose) meter
  • When to check your blood sugar and what the numbers mean
  • What to do when your numbers are out of your target range
  • How to record your blood sugar results

Checking your blood sugar is an important part of diabetes self care, but monitoring your overall health includes a lot of other things too, especially when you have diabetes. You and your health care team will also need to monitor your:

  • Long-term blood sugar control – A1C, eAG
  • Heart and vascular health – blood pressure, weight, cholesterol levels
  • Kidney health – urine and blood testing
  • Eye health – dilated eye exams
  • Foot health – foot exams and sensory testing


There are several types of medication to manage diabetes. Many people take one or more medications to help manage their blood glucose. Medications affect different parts of the body. For example, some medications increase insulin sensitivity in cells, others prevent the liver from making too much glucose. Your medications come with specific instructions for use-and they can affect your body differently based on when and how you take them. It's important to know the names, doses and instructions for the medications you're taking, as well as the reasons they are recommended for you.

Problem solving

What do you do when you have a problem like low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)? Do you know what caused it? How can you help reduce the risk of it happening in the future?

Everyone encounters problems with their diabetes control; you can't plan for every situation you may face. However, there are some problem-solving skills that can help you prepare for the unexpected. Some of the most important problem-solving skills for diabetes self-care are learning how to recognize and react to high and low blood sugar levels and learning how to manage on days when you are sick. Your diabetes educator can help you develop the skills to identify situations that could upset your diabetes control.

Healthy coping

Diabetes can affect you physically and emotionally. Living with it every day can make you feel discouraged, stressed and even depressed. It is natural to have mixed feelings about having diabetes. You can expect to experience highs and lows. It is important to recognize these emotions as typical. Your family and friends can help. Attending support groups are a great idea. Try attending a support group at the Diabetes Center. Check out the schedule of our classes and support groups.

Reducing risks

Having diabetes puts you at risk for developing other health problems. However, if you understand the risks, you can take steps now to lower your chance of diabetes-related complications. Talk to your diabetes educator and health care provider about potential health issues, such as kidney damage, nerve damage or vision loss. They can explain why complications happen and how they can be avoided.

Don't rely on your health care team to identify areas of concern. You need to play an active role in reducing your risk. You can reduce your risks for several complications by taking these precautions:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Schedule regular medical checkups
  • See an eye doctor at least once a year for a dilated eye exam
  • Keep your feet dry and clean
  • Lowering your cholesterol can decrease your risk for stroke, heart attack or other circulation problems
  • Controlling your diabetes can help reduce your risk for heart disease

Have questions? We're here to help.

Contact us to make an appointment