Understanding the Steps to Diabetes Self Management

The Diagnosis of Diabetes

If you or a loved one have just been diagnosed with diabetes, you may feel overwhelmed by mixed emotions. Diabetes is a complex and serious condition, and living with it everyday can be challenging. Part of the challenge is that management of diabetes will largely rest in your hands – the can be daunting. Be kind to yourself and remember that small , positive steps everyday will make a difference in the long run. Lets explore some ways to help you learn and implement some vital self-management practices.

Getting started with Self-Management

Ideally, on diagnosis, you should have access to a team of Health Care Professionals, that may include your treating doctor, a diabetes educator or coach, a dietician and possibly a podiatrist. However in many cases, you might only have access to a doctor and your time spent with him or her in consultation  may be limited. In the beginning, you may feel overloaded with information about what to eat, how much to exercise, when to take your medicine and how to test, as well as confusing terminology including HbA1c, hyperglycaemia, hypoglycaemia and glycemic control.

To help you make sense of it all, diabetes educators initially focus on some key areas: 

1. Healthy Eating

having diabetes does not mean you must give up your favourite foods. Over time, and through experience, you will learn how the foods you eat affect your blood glucose levels. Eating regular meals and making wise food choices will help to make your blood glucose levels more predictable and manage your diabetes better. Work with a dietician or diabetes educator to develop  a healthy, balanced eating plan that suites your lifestyle. Remember that it is ok to treat yourself occasionally. You can also visit the Accu-Check website at www.accu-check.co.za and download the Accu-Check portion plate, which will give you some practical tips on healthy eating.  

2. Being Active

Guidelines for the management of type 2 diabetes refer to studies showing that regular physical activity, significantly improves blood glucose control, reduces cardiovascular risk factors, and may reduce chronic medication dosages. Regular physical activity may also improve symptoms of depression and improve health-related quality of life. For best results, try to include a combination of cardio and resistance training into your exercise and activity routine. 

3. Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose (SMBG)

The International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) recommends Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose (SMBG) as an effective means for people with diabetes to understand more about their conditions and the influence of events such as exercise, stress, food and medications on blood glucose levels. However, for SMBG to be effective, practice structured testing using a tool such as the Accu-Check 360 3-Day profile tool, which can be found on the Accu-Check website. Structured testing is testing at the right times in the right situations and frequently enough to generate useful information. Always agree with your doctor or diabetes educator what your individual structured SMBG testing plan should look like. 

Another aspect that you and your diabetes team will need to agree on will be your target range for you blood glucose levels. in the beginning, understanding this range and what it is considered out of this range may be confusing. Here, you may want to make use of the Accu-Check instant blood glucose meter which offers a support tool called the target range indicator TRI. A study done on the TRI showed that 90% of the study participants were able to interpret their blood glucose values easily using this tool. Furthermore 94% felt that the TRI support tool would help them discuss their blood glucose values with their doctor. 

4. Taking Medication

You may need to take medication to help keep you blood glucose levels steady within your target range. Diabetes can increase your risk of other health conditions such as heart or kidney related problems, so you may need to take medicine to help with those too. 

5. Problem Solving

When you have diabetes, you ear to plan ahead to ensure you maintain blood glucose levels as much as possible within your target range – not to high and not too low. As we know, things don’t always go according to plan – A stressful day at the office, or and unexpected illness, can send you blood glucose level in the wrong direction. Here are some tips to cope: 

  • Don’t beat yourself up – Managing your diabetes doesn’t mean being perfect
  • Analyse your day – think about what was different today and learn from this
  • Discuss possible solutions – the can be with your doctor, your diabetes educator or even a face to face or online diabetes support group. Try joining some of the online diabetes communities out there such as The Accu-Check Facebook Page which has over 148 000 members – join the conversation at AccuCheckSubSahara.


  1. American Association Of Diabetes Educators (AADE7). Self-Care behaviours. [online] available at: https://www.diabeteseducator.org/living-with-diabetes/aade7-self-care-behaviors [Accessed 19 Feb 2018]
  2. 2017 SEMDSA Guidelines for the management of Type 2 Diabetes
  3. Adapted from the International Diabetes Federation Guideline on Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose in Non-Insulin Treated Type 2 Diabetes. 2009
  4. Parkin CG et al. Use of an Integrated Tool for Interpretation of Blood Glucose Data Improves the correctness of Glycemic Risk Assessment in Individuals with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. J Diabetes Sci & Technology. 2016;(11) : 74-82


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