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Step 3: Manage Your Diabetes

Many people avoid the long-term problems of diabetes by taking good care of themselves. Work with your health care team to reach your ABC goals (A1C, Blood Pressure, Cholesterol): Use this self-care plan.

  • Use your diabetes meal plan. If you do not have one, ask your health care team about one.
    • Make healthy food choices such as fruits and vegetables, fish, lean meats, chicken or turkey without the skin, dry peas or beans, whole grains, and low-fat or skim milk and cheese.
    • Keep fish and lean meat and poultry portion to about 3 ounces (or the size of a deck of cards). Bake, broil, or grill it.
    • Eat foods that have less fat and salt.
    • Eat foods with more fiber such as whole grains cereals, breads, crackers, rice, or pasta.
  • Get 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. Brisk walking is a great way to move more.
  • Stay at a healthy weight by using your meal plan and moving more.
  • Ask for help if you feel down. A mental health counselor, support group, member of the clergy, friend, or family member who will listen to your concerns may help you feel better.
  • Learn to cope with stress. Stress can raise your blood glucose (blood sugar). While it is hard to remove stress from your life, you can learn to handle it.
  • Stop smoking. Ask for help to quit.
  • Take medicines even when you feel good. Ask your doctor if you need aspirin to prevent a heart attack or stroke. Tell your doctor if you cannot afford your medicines or if you have any side effects.
  • Check your feet every day for cuts, blisters, red spots, and swelling. Call your health care team right away about any sores that do not go away.
  • Brush your teeth and floss every day to avoid problems with your mouth, teeth, or gums
  • Check your blood glucose (blood sugar). You may want to test it one or more times a day. Use the card at the back of this booklet to keep a record of your blood glucose numbers. Be sure to take this record to your doctor visits.
  • Check your blood pressure if your doctor advises.
  • Report any changes in your eyesight to your doctor.

Actions you could take:

  • Talk with your health care team about your blood glucose targets. Ask how and when to test your blood glucose and how to use the results to manage your diabetes.

  • Discuss how your self-care plan is working for you each time you visit your health care team.

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Talk to your health care team about how to manage your A1C (blood glucose or sugar), Blood pressure, and Cholesterol. This will help lower your chances of having a heart attack, a stroke, or other diabetes problems. Here’s what the ABCs of diabetes stand for:

A for the A1C test

The A1C Test shows you what your blood glucose has been over the last three months. The A1C goal for many people is below 7. High blood glucose levels can harm your heart and blood vessels, kidneys, feet, and eyes.

B for Blood pressure.

The blood pressure goal for most people with diabetes is below 140/90. It may be different for you. Ask what your goal should be.

High blood pressure makes your heart work too hard. It can cause heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease.

C for Cholesterol.

Ask what your cholesterol numbers should be.

LDL or “bad” cholesterol can build up and clog your blood vessels. It can cause a heart attack or a stroke. HDL or “good” cholesterol helps remove cholesterol from your blood vessels.

Actions you could take:

  • Ask your health care team:
    • What your A1C, blood pressure, and Cholesterol numbers are
    • What should your ABC numbers should be
    • What you can do to reach your targets
  • Write down all your numbers on the record card at the back of this booklet (PDF, 1.2 MB).​​​


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