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Recently diagnosed

Diabetes is a life altering disease, causing diagnosed patients to alter their lifestyle considerably. Thus the patient is required to bring about a considerable change in his/her eating habits and exercise regimes.
It is essential that a diabetic should take control of his/her diabetes, before it gets out of hand. Regular blood sugar monitoring is the key to giving diabetics the information they need, to effectively manage their diabetes. Without regular testing, diabetics would not know how well their diet, exercise or medication are working or when to make the required changes. It is important for a diabetic to lead a healthier and active life.

One main area where diabetics can take control of their diabetes is by regulating their food intake. Food is a main factor that directly impacts a diabetic's blood sugar levels and one that he/she can control. Diabetics must check their sugar level regularly, with the help of a blood glucose meter. Only when a diabetic checks his/her blood sugar level on regular basis, will he/she be able to decide which diet is suitable.

But all this does not mean that diabetics should give up on their favourite foods and submit themselves to a torturous lifestyle of bland food and salt-free meals! As long as a strict, well balanced diet is followed, diabetics can take the liberty of enjoying their favourite foods, even very occasionally. It is important that diabetics should monitor their blood sugar levels before and about two hours after their meals, in order to judge how their body reacts to specific foods and the quantity consumed. This will help them make the right choices about what food is suitable for them and what should not be consumed.

How often a diabetic will test his/her blood sugar levels will vary according to the type of diabetes (Type1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes) they are diagnosed with. It will also vary according to a diabetic's medication and how much their blood sugar level changes during the day.
If you are a recently diagnosed diabetic, talk to your doctor, diabetes educator, counsellor or a diabetes expert about setting appropriate target ranges and fitting a regular, well-defined testing programme into your daily life.
In the meantime, here are some general testing guidelines:

Testing around meals:

  • A fasting test can tell you if your medication and bedtime snack are keeping you at safe blood sugar levels overnight.
  • Test your blood sugar levels before lunch and dinner. It will help you decide on appropriate foods, portion sizes and the dosage of your insulin or medication.
  • To get the best results for your blood sugar levels, test two hours after meals several times a week. Recent studies suggest that this may be even more important than fasting tests, since it gives you feedback on how your previous meal has affected your blood sugar levels. You can also prevent yourself from heart disease, by following this regime. These test results will help you make informed decisions on meal planning.
  • It is important that you keep a diet target in mind and follow it. Diet target is the difference between your pre-meal and post-meal blood glucose. If the difference between the before and after meal readings is as per the diet target set for you, it indicates that the food choices and portions are working well. Consult your doctor/diabetes educator to know what should be the ideal difference for you.

Testing around exercise:

  • Exercise plays a major role in a diabetic's life. Maintain a regular exercise regime in order to keep your blood sugar levels under control. Testing around exercise will help you develop a workout plan that's best for you.
  • Schedule your workout sessions about 1 to 3 hours after meals. That is the time when you are usually at the peak of your energy levels.
  • To avoid hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), test before exercising to make sure your blood sugar level is at least 90 mg/dL. Eat a small snack if it is lower than 90mg/dL.
  • Avoid working out if your blood sugar is too high. Working out at blood sugar levels more than 240 mg/dL may result in ketosis.
  • Blood glucose levels should be maintained between 100-140mg/dL at bedtime. Checking blood sugars before sleeping is useful to prevent low blood sugars on extra activity days (e.g.; School P.T days, days of increased physical activity).

Testing around medication:

Be sure to test your glucose levels in conjunction with any adjustments in insulin dosage or diabetes medication. It will help gauge your body's reaction to the medication prescribed by your doctor.

Increased testing is recommended when you:

  • Make major changes in your eating, sleeping or exercise routines (including changes caused by travel and time zone changes)
  • Are ill or under stress
  • Change your medication

Quarterly A1c Test:

Include a Quarterly A1c Test in your monitoring programme, in addition to your regular daily blood sugar testing. Since A1c averages blood glucose over a period of three months, it provides a good measure of blood glucose control over time. It can be used to predict your risk of developing diabetes complications. It is important to measure A1c in addition to your regular blood glucose tests.
Your doctor/diabetes educator can set a target of A1c level for you that can be achieved by acting on the information you get from regular, daily blood sugar testing. So do not just test; test smart. By controlling your diabetes you cannot only feel good today, but help safeguard your health in the future.

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