Improve diabetes self-management: a practical guide to action planning

Certified Diabetes Educator

Diabetes is becoming increasingly common and can lead to other health issues if not managed properly. Those with diabetes are at greater risk of developing heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, gum disease, eye and kidney problems. However, you can reduce your risk for developing these complications.

It is important to understand your role in diabetes self-care management. The American Association of Diabetes Educators defines “self-care management” as:

• Healthy eating behaviors

• Being active

• Monitoring your health

• Taking your medications

• Problem solving

• Healthy coping

• Reducing stress

Are you properly managing your diabetes? Ask yourself these questions:

Are you eating healthy, eating the right amount of food and eating at the right times? Are you regularly active or exercising? Are you checking your blood glucose and blood pressure levels daily?

Are you taking your insulin or diabetes pills on time?

Are you able to make quick and informed decisions about food, activity and medications?

Are you able to stay motivated to keep you diabetes under control even when it seems difficult to maintain?

If you are missing some steps in managing your diabetes, an action plan may help.

An action plan is a personal plan that defines a specific goal(s) that you would like to achieve in the next day, week or month. Because every goal has its challenges, an action plan can help you identify ways to overcome the challenges and meet that goal.

Creating an action plan only takes a few steps. Begin by asking yourself the following questions to define a specific goal that will help you manage your diabetes:

• What am I going to do? Identify a specific goal that you want to start working on. You might set a specific goal to start walking or swimming, eating fruits or vegetables, having three meals per day or not forgetting to take your medications on time.

• How often will I do it? Think about how much time you have during the day or week to work on your goal. It is often best to choose a single goal you can work on several times each week.

• When will I do it? Think about a time you are available each week to work on your goal. When you do this, you are choosing the best time of the day and the best days to care for yourself.

• What support do I have? Think about the people or things in your community that can help you reach your goal. It may include family members, friends or coworkers who can encourage you to reach your goal. Also think about the information or materials given to you by your doctor or nurse to self-manage your diabetes.

An example of an action plan is:

Goal: Exercise.

Action plan: Walk, three times per week, after dinner, with the walking club, beginning next week.

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2014-04-24 digital edition

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