What is a diabetes educator?
A diabetes educator – often a dietitian, nurse or pharmacist – draws on specialized training and expertise to help people with diabetes live more healthfully while managing challenges as they arise. Many diabetes educators attain advanced certifications, including the Certified Diabetes Educator certification (CDE*) and/or the Board Certified-Advanced Diabetes Management certification (BC-ADM).
Diabetes needs can change over time, and partnering with a diabetes educator for support and information may be particularly valuable:
- at diagnosis
- when new health conditions or physical limitations surface
- during other life and health status transitions
- at least once a year to help stay on course and avoid falling into a diabetes rut
A diabetes educator can help manage many aspects of life with diabetes. Here is a top 10 list of reasons to schedule a visit:
1. Simplify life with diabetes
Juggling the many factors that can affect blood glucose levels may seem overwhelming. Diabetes educators can provide tips, resources, guidance and support that may make it easier to manage life with diabetes.
2. Develop a healthy eating plan
Diabetes educators – particularly dietitians – can translate the science of nutrition into the art of healthful eating, including tips for a maintaining a balanced eating plan, managing weight and how different foods may affect blood glucose levels. Eating more healthfully doesn’t necessarily mean making big changes; for instance, when trying to drop a few pounds, switching from a 12-inch plate to a 10-inch plate may mean an average of 22% fewer calories per dish.
3. Get physical
Physical activity plays an important role in blood glucose control, weight loss, heart health and improving overall sense of well-being. A diabetes educator can work with you to create personalized fitness goals and an exercise plan, which may include getting up and moving around every 90 minutes or so during waking hours and walking 10,000 steps daily, when able.
4. Learn about prescribed therapies
Diabetes educators can explain why a medicine is prescribed and how it may help, as well as how to properly take it and fit it into a schedule. They can share side effects to watch for – such as hypoglycemia – and how to deal with side effects should they arise.
5. Gain a blood glucose monitoring mentor
A diabetes educator can teach how to check and track blood glucose, help make it clearer how food, physical activity and other factors affect blood glucose, and identify strategies to help reach target levels.
6. Problem solving
Stress, sickness and some medications may raise blood glucose levels; exercise and alcohol may cause them to drop. Diabetes educators can address any concerns and empower one with knowledge, skills and a personalized plan to help navigate sometimes challenging scenarios.
7. Help reduce risk
Hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia may be a primary concern for many who live with diabetes. A diabetes educator can provide tips on preventing high and low blood glucose, and on managing levels if they become unstable.
8. Develop healthier coping strategies
Diabetes educators may help you find more healthful ways to cope with life, whether it’s getting plugged in to the power of positive thinking, connected to an online support network or helping you to find a stress-relieving hobby.
9. Embrace innovative technologies
Diabetes educators may help you stay current on new technologies to help streamline blood glucose management, including mobile apps to learn about carbohydrates or activity trackers to help count steps and other physical movement.
10. Celebrate victory
Sometimes one needs a bit of encouragement and support. A diabetes educator can help celebrate victories – whether it’s a 5-pound weight loss, blood glucose values in target or getting an extra 500 extra steps into your day.
Looking for a diabetes educator? Ask your doctor or other member of your diabetes care team for a recommendation, or find one near you. Contact your insurance provider to see if diabetes education is covered under your insurance plan and, if so, how many hours or visits are covered each year.
Tami A. Ross, RD, LD, CDE*, MLDE is a nationally recognized diabetes educator, spokesperson and author of What Do I Eat Now? A Step-by-Step Guide to Eating Right with Type 2 Diabetes and Diabetes Meals on $7 a Day – Or Less! Ross is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.
*“Certified Diabetes Educator” and “CDE” are certification marks owned and registered by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE). NCBDE is not affiliated in any way with Sanofi US. NCBDE does not sponsor or endorse any diabetes-related products or services.
© 2015 The DX: The Diabetes Experience