Diabetes Education: Take the Class, Take Control
The Center offers a comprehensive diabetes education program consisting of an individual assessment followed by two class sessions. A support person is welcome to join you. The program is designed to teach you how to manage diabetes and avoid complications.
During the program you can expect to learn how to:
Set and meet your blood sugar goals.
Checking your blood sugar can help you keep your diabetes under control. You and your diabetes team will decide when and how often to check your blood sugar. Some important times to check include:
- Upon awakening, and just before going to sleep
- Before meals or snacks
- One to two hours after meals or snacks
- Before and after physical activity
During your individual appointment, we will provide you with a glucose monitoring kit if you need one, and teach you how to use it.
When you arrive for your classes, you will test your fasting blood sugar level. Your nurse educator will go over your glucose monitoring technique and help to establish blood glucose target goals with you.
Manage your disease with and without medication.
Your blood sugar level can be affected by your diet, your activity level, and your approach to stress. Medication may be necessary to keep your blood sugar level in check, and there are many effective medications. Some are taken by mouth, others by injection. During a class, a certified diabetes nurse educator will explain how anti-diabetes medications help lower your blood sugar level. Knowing how to balance diet, exercise, and medications is key to controlling your blood sugar level.
Understand injectable medications.
Insulin and other injectable medications can be important tools for managing diabetes. We discuss and demonstrate insulin pens, and can even show an insulin pump. Myths and misconceptions about insulin are also addressed.
Plan healthy meals that you can enjoy.
One of the first things people ask after a diabetes diagnosis is, "What can I eat?" The answer: practically anything, provided you limit the amount and frequency of certain foods. Your meal plan should include:
- A wide variety of foods for adequate nutrition
- Many of your favorite foods, so you enjoy what you eat
- Foods that are easy for you to prepare or purchase
Our dietitians will teach you about a healthy diet, including details about carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
Carbohydrates are the most common culprits in raising blood sugar level, so it's important to be aware of your carb intake. Not all fats are created equal, so it's important to know which are OK and which to avoid. Proteins build and repair your body tissues. We also teach about portion sizes. You will leave the program with an individualized meal plan built around foods you prefer.
Nutrition Therapy can help you gain control over your caloric intake. Have you been struggling to meet your weight loss goals, or do you have specific concerns regarding weight management while controlling your diabetes? Our registered dietitians will work with you to develop an eating plan for weight loss that is designed to fit your individual needs. Individual appointments can be scheduled at our Hartford, Enfield, Ellington or Farmington locations.
Diabetic foot conditions develop from a combination of causes including poor circulation and neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy can cause insensitivity or a loss of ability to feel pain, heat, and cold. People with diabetes and neuropathy can develop minor cuts, scrapes, blisters, or pressure sores that they may not feel. Poor circulation can complicate diabetic foot problems by reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrition supplied to the skin and other tissue, causing injuries to heal poorly. Diabetes-related foot and leg problems can include:
- Infections and ulcers (sores) that don’t heal
An ulcer is a sore in the skin that may penetrate all the way to the bone. Because of poor circulation and neuropathy in the feet, cuts or blisters can easily develop into ulcers that become infected and won’t heal. This is a common – and serious – complication of diabetes, and can lead to amputation or death.
- Corns and calluses
When neuropathy is present, you can’t tell if your shoes are causing pressure and producing corns or calluses. Corns and calluses must be treated properly or they can develop into ulcers.
- Dry, cracked skin
Poor circulation and neuropathy can make your skin dry. This may seem harmless, but dry skin can result in cracks that may become sores and can lead to infection.
- Nail disorders
Ingrown toenails (which curve into the skin on the sides of the nail) and fungal infections can go unnoticed because of loss of feeling. Not properly treated, they can lead to further infection.
- Hammertoes and bunions
Nerve damage can cause muscle weakness and loss of tone in the feet, resulting in hammertoes and bunions. Left untreated, these deformities can cause ulcers.
- Charcot foot
This is a complex foot deformity. It develops as a result of loss of sensation and an undetected broken bone that leads to destruction of the soft tissue of the foot. Because of neuropathy, the pain of the fracture goes unnoticed and the patient continues to walk on the broken bone, making it worse.
During our program, a podiatrist will teach you how to prevent and detect foot problems. Class attendees will also be given an opportunity for an individual foot examination.
Create and stick to an exercise plan.
The well-known saying applies: a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. For people with diabetes, that can mean a short walk, a bike ride, swimming, dancing, or even vacuuming the carpet. Health experts recommend starting any exercise routine gradually, with a goal of being physically active for at least 30 minutes, five days per week, to maintain your current weight, and 45 minutes, five days per week, if your goal is to lose weight. Classes will focus on exercise and setting goals for health and physical activity.
Stay healthy, even if you get sick.
Stress, minor illnesses, and other disruptions can make it more difficult to control your blood sugar. Our program concludes with a session on managing diabetes when you are sick and preventing complications when you are well.
Eight weeks following conclusion of the two classes, participants are invited for a follow-up appointment at The Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Care.
Source: "Diabetes and You: Your Guide to Better Living with Diabetes," Cornerstones4Care, 2011 Novo Nordisk