4 Steps to Control
Your Diabetes. For Life.
Step 1: Learn about diabetes.
Step 2: Know your diabetes ABCs.
Step 3: Manage your diabetes.
Step 4: Get routine care to avoid problems.
Diabetes is a serious disease. It affects almost every part
of your body. That is why a health care team may help
you take care of your diabetes:
• diabetes educator
• eye doctor
• foot doctor
• mental health counselor
• nurse practitioner
• social worker
• friends and family
You are the most important member of the team.
Learn about diabetes.
Diabetes means that your blood glucose (blood sugar) is
too high. Here are the main types of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes:
the body does not make insulin.
Insulin helps the body use glucose from food for energy.
People with type 1 need to take insulin every day.
Type 2 diabetes:
the body does not make or use
insulin well. People with type 2 often need to take pills
or insulin. Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes.
Gestational diabetes mellitus:
(GDM)—occurs when a woman is pregnant. It raises her
risk of getting another type of diabetes, mostly type 2,
for the rest of her life. It also raises her child’s risk of
being overweight and getting diabetes.
Diabetes is serious.
You may have heard people say they have “a touch of
diabetes” or that their “sugar is a little high.” These
words suggest that diabetes is not a serious disease.
That is not correct. Diabetes is serious, but you can
All people with diabetes need to make healthy food
choices, stay at a healthy weight, and be active every day.
Taking good care of yourself and your diabetes can help
you feel better and avoid health problems caused by
diabetes such as:
• heart attack and stroke
• eye problems that can lead to trouble seeing or
• nerve damage that can cause your hands and feet
to hurt, tingle, or feel numb. Some people may even
lose a foot or a leg
• kidney problems that can cause your kidneys to
• gum disease and loss of teeth
When your blood glucose is close to normal you are
• have more energy
• be less tired and thirsty and urinate less often
• heal better and have fewer skin or bladder
• have fewer problems with your eyesight, skin, feet,
Know your diabetes ABCs.
Talk to your health care team about how to manage
your A1C, Blood pressure, and Cholesterol. This can
help lower your chances of having a heart attack,
stroke, or other diabetes problem. Here’s what the ABCs
of diabetes stand for:
A for the A1C test (A-one-C).
It 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 goal for most people with diabetes is below
High blood pressure makes your heart work too hard. It
can cause heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease.
C for Cholesterol.
The LDL goal for people with diabetes is below 100.
The HDL goal for men is greater than 40.
The HDL goal for women is greater than 50.
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.
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. Use this
• Use your diabetes food plan. If you do not have
one, ask your health care team for one.
– Eat healthy foods 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 portions to
about 3 ounces (or the size of a pack of cards).
Bake, broil, or grill it.
– Eat foods that have less fat and salt.
– Eat foods with more fiber such as whole-grain
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
• Stay at a healthy weight by making healthy food
choices and moving more.
• Ask for help if you feel down. A mental health
counselor, support group, member of the clergy,
friend, or family member will listen to your
concerns and help you feel better.
• Learn to cope with stress. Stress can raise your
blood glucose. 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
you doctor if you need aspirin to prevent a heart
attack or stroke. Tell your doctor if you cannot
afford your medicine 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 won’t go away.
• Brush your teeth and floss every day to avoid
problems with your mouth, teeth, or gums.
• Check your blood glucose. You may
want to test it one or more times a day.
• Check your blood pressure. If your doctor advises.
• Report any changes in your eyesight to your doctor.
Get routine care to avoid problems.
See your health care team at least twice a year to find
and treat problems early. Discuss what steps you can
take to reach your goals.
At each visit get a:
• blood pressure check
• foot check
• weight check
• review of your self-care plan shown in Step 3
Two times each year get an:
• A1C test—It may be checked more often if it is over 7
Once each year get a:
• cholesterol test
• triglyceride test- a type of blood fat
• complete foot exam
• dental exam to check teeth and gums—tell your
dentist you have diabetes
• dilated eye exam to check for eye problems
• flu shot
• urine and a blood test to check for kidney problems
At least once get a:
• pneumonia shot