Healthy Eating for a Diabetic
How Diabetes Educators and Coaches Can Help With Diabetes
You don’t have to tackle a diabetes diagnosis alone. In fact, your condition can be a whole lot easier to manage if you work with the right person — or people.
One such person is a certified diabetes educator (CDE). Like the name suggests, these professionals are credentialed and have met the standards set by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators.
CDEs can provide motivation, help, and support so much so that a joint statement from the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE), and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) recommended that people with diabetes see one at least once a year, if not more. Check with your health insurance plan to see how many CDE sessions are covered.
A diabetes coach is another person that can help you manage your condition. They offer education and support, but don’t have the same training as a CDE and might not be covered by insurance. Look for someone who has been educated by an accredited organization; for instance, the AADE offers lifestyle coach training to medical personnel, such as nurses and dietitians.
Whether you choose to work with either a coach or diabetes educator (or both), here’s how each can help you manage your diabetes.
The Benefits of Diabetes Education
“I tell my patients, I’m not here to judge you,” says Tami Ross, RD, LD, a Lexington, Kentucky-based certified diabetes educator, former AADE president, and author ofWhat Do I Eat Now? A Step-by-Step Guide to Eating Right With Type 2 Diabetes. Instead, Ross helps identify opportunities for improvement in diabetes care.
A CDE is a mentor and a trainer who can help you be your healthiest, adds Suzanne Catania, 49, of Alexandria, Virginia, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1983.
In fact, learning about diabetes management through a structured educational program can even help lower HbA1c by about 23 percent for as long as two years afterwards, according to research published in the August 2014 issue ofDiabetes Spectrum.
And you don’t have to be newly diagnosed to reap the benefits: Kim Monroe, RD, CDE, of Fairfax, Virginia, was 11 when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Now in her mid-50s, she says, “I think I’m finally getting it, but who knows what I’ll learn in my 60s?”
Working with a diabetes coach or certified diabetes educator should be empowering, says Marianne Tetlow, a certified life coach in Scottsdale, Arizona, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 12. Tetlow acts as a sounding board for her clients, helping them plan menus and manage insulin injections and other areas of their diabetes care. She even accompanies them to doctor visits, the grocery store, or outdoor activities like hikes.
Creating a Personal Target List
When working with a CDE or diabetes coach, make sure these topics are on your agenda, suggests the AADE:
- Diabetes education:How blood sugar and insulin work in your body, the big picture of diabetes self-care, and how to use tools like food tracking apps, blood sugar monitors, and pumps, Ross says.
- Nutritional needs:How to plan healthier meals and work favorite foods and drinks into your diet.
- Exercise:How to increase your activity level. Exercise can help you control blood sugar and improve your mood and heart health.
- Self-monitoring:How to track your blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
- Medication specifics:How your medications work in combination with your diet, exercise routine, and lifestyle and how to talk to your doctor about these drugs. “Most endocrinologists value input and consider all treatment options,” says , assistant vice president for special projects with MedStar Health Research Institute in Hyattsville, Maryland.
- Problem solving:How to plan for unexpected situations.
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