Diabetes Self-Management Articles

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Diabetes in the Military

by Laura Hieronymus, MSEd, RN, BC-ADM, CDE, and Pamela Rickerson, RN, MSN, CDE

More information on healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle is available on the Commissary Agency Web site, www.commissaries.com, including information on making healthy food choices for children. Home cooking is encouraged and supported by a section entitled “Kay’s Kitchen,” which has recipes, cooking tips, and an e-mail link to send questions to home economist Kay Blakley.

In support of healthy activity levels, most military bases have a gym and often other facilities for recreation and outdoor activities. In addition, the “Fitness Center” of the Web site www.military.com has seemingly endless articles, videos, and guidelines for service members and their families to get fit. Some are aimed at meeting the fitness requirements of the various branches of the military, while others are focused on building and maintaining general fitness.

The Armed Services YMCA offers recreational programs, child and youth programs, educational programs, and spouse and parenting support at facilities on or near military installations worldwide. Its services are free or offered at a reduced cost to junior active-duty service members and their families. (Higher-ranking service members and their families are also eligible to use many of the services offered.) In addition, certain “regular” YMCAs are offering free memberships and respite child care services to eligible military families and personnel. (See “Resources for Healthful Eating and Exercise” for more details.)

Taking advantage of fitness and other healthy lifestyle programs can go a long way toward lowering stress, as well as preventing or helping to control diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol and triglycerides. Regular exercise may also help to elevate a depressed mood in some cases and help with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. If an organized fitness program isn’t available or doesn’t meet your needs, exercising on your own can have the same benefits.

Diabetes care
Uniformed service members, retirees, and their families receive health benefits through TRICARE. For all of its beneficiaries, TRICARE covers outpatient visits, hospitalization, preventive services, and prescription drugs. For beneficiaries with diabetes, TRICARE also covers diabetes supplies (such as blood glucose meters and strips) and outpatient diabetes self-management and training programs.

Information about TRICARE coverage can be found online at www.tricare.mil. Service members with diabetes can also contact their TRICARE benefits administrator to discuss the availability and location of medical professionals who have expertise in treating diabetes.

Taking advantage of covered diabetes self-management education and services is well worth your while. You may have coverage for one-on-one visits with a diabetes educator and/or coverage for group diabetes education classes. Group diabetes classes are not only helpful for learning the facts about diabetes and its care, but also for sharing ideas, recipes, and healthy tips with other class members.

When you have (or are at risk for) diabetes, it is a good idea to get expert advice on how to eat healthfully, control your weight, and keep your blood glucose in target range. A registered dietitian (RD) can help you understand how various foods affect your health and work with you to develop a meal plan that meets your needs.

In addition to healthy eating, other topics that will help you manage your diabetes include how to stay physically active, how to monitor your blood glucose level, how to develop coping techniques, and how to lower your risk of diabetes complications. If your diabetes care provider prescribes medicines to help you control your diabetes, you will need to learn how they work, how to properly take them, and what side effects they might have. You will also need to know what to do if your blood glucose levels go too high or too low.

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Also in this article:
Resources for Healthful Eating and Exercise
Veterans Health Administration Resources



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Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.



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