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Basic Skills for Living with Diabetes

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Basic Skills for Living With Diabetes

Living with diabetes can be a challenge. Whether you have just been told that you have diabetes or you've had the disease for years, we can help you manage your diabetes.

This manual by the Allina Diabetes Education Council includes information that people with diabetes need to know about. Ask your diabetes educator or nurse about which topics apply the most to you now.


Tools for managing your diabetes

Diabetes chrystler with five tools for managing your diabetes as described below food physical activity Managing stress Medication monitoring blood glucose


Your body needs food to make glucose that is used for energy. Food makes blood glucose go up, so controlling how much, what kind and when you eat can make a difference.

  1. Eat three well-balanced meals a day.
  2. If meals are more than 4 to 5 hours apart, eat a small snack.
  3. Eat a bedtime snack so that your body has enough energy while you sleep.
  4. Do not skip meals or snacks. Your body will make up for the lack of glucose by asking the liver to produce extra glucose. This can make controlling your blood glucose even harder.
  5. Ask for help if you have questions or need advice about your food choices.

Physical activity

Exercise is important for everyone. When you have diabetes, it helps to use up blood glucose. Physical activity also makes your insulin work better.

  1. Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
  2. Start slowly to avoid injury.
  3. Choose activities that you will enjoy.
  4. Get physical activity every day.

Managing stress

Stress increases blood glucose and can cause problems with your blood glucose control.

  1. Think about what causes stress for you.
  2. Find healthy ways that help you cope with stress. Try them.
  3. Seek help if you need it.


Many medications help control blood glucose. Your doctor will choose the best medications for you if you need them. It is not unusual for your medication needs to change.

Monitoring blood glucose

Regular testing will tell you how your food, physical activity and medication are working. Controlling blood glucose is how you avoid the problems that go along with diabetes.

Forms and worksheets


Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Basic Skills for Living with Diabetes, fifth edition, ISBN 1-931876-32-0

First published: 11/27/2006
Last updated: 04/26/2013

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department