Diabetes: The Basics – Overview

Diabetes Self-Management: An Introduction to the ADCES7 Self-Care Behaviors 

Listen to Diabetes: The Basics—Introduction Audio—Note: Audio not updated

Updated 2021 by Kim Ladd, RN, BS, CPHQ, CDCES 

The most effective diabetes self-management treatment includes a combination of many therapies and behaviors. The Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists (ADCES) focuses on 7 key behaviors that lead to optimum diabetes self-management and good health. These are called the ADCES7 Self-Care Behaviors, and they include:   

  1. Healthy coping:  recognizing negative emotions and taking steps to reduce the detrimental impact they can have on your self-care is an important part of diabetes management.  
  2. Healthy eating: preparing and eating a healthy diet, understanding and reading food labels, and portion control. When you have diabetes it’s very important to understand how the foods you eat affect your blood sugar levels. 
  3. Being active:  engaging in appropriate physical activity and exercise while following necessary precautions. Being active helps to lower blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, improve blood pressure, lower stress and anxiety, and improve your mood. 
  4. Monitoring:  tracking blood sugar levels allows you to make food and activity adjustments to help ensure that your diabetes is being properly managed. It’s also important to monitor your blood pressure, foot health, steps walked, weight and activity, sleep, and achievement of goals, to help you stay on the path of good health.  
  5. Taking medication:  taking medications in pill, injectable, liquid, and other forms as directed by your physician is a very important part of controlling blood sugar levels.
  6. Problem-solving: diabetes management problems like hypoglycemia/hyperglycemia, and sick days are very common. It’s important to utilize problem-solving skills to help prepare for when these unexpected problems occur — and plan for dealing with problems in the future.  
  7. Reducing risks: when diabetes is not properly managed, other health complications occur. It is important to help reduce your risk of complications by quitting smoking, performing foot checks, blood pressure monitoring, self-monitoring of blood glucose levels and getting regular eye, foot, and dental examinations. 

The Diabetes Self-Management guide will provide information to help you live well with diabetes.

It takes a village.


Working With Your Diabetes Team

Managing your diabetes is a team effort. Your diabetes management team should include:

  • doctor
  • nurse diabetes educator
  • dietitian
  • pharmacist
  • dentist

The most important member of your diabetes team is YOU!

Other professionals who often help people manage diabetes are:

  • mental health professional
  • dentist
  • ophthalmologist (eye doctor)
  • podiatrist (foot doctor)
  • exercise physiologist

Each one of these professionals can help you with an important area of diabetes care.

Your doctor is responsible for your routine diabetes care. You should have a routine follow-up visit with your doctor every 3 to 6 months. Visits should be scheduled more frequently if you are having trouble keeping your blood glucose under control, if you have some complications from diabetes, or if you are sick. Your doctor will order your diabetes lab tests, prescribe medications, and watch for signs of diabetes complications. Your doctor can also help you decide when you need to work with any of the other professionals on this list.

A nurse diabetes educator can help you understand diabetes self-management and what you need to do to stay healthy with diabetes. A nurse diabetes educator can also help you solve problems about how to do any parts of your diabetes care that are difficult for you.

A dietitian can help you understand healthy meal planning. You need to know what kinds of food to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat to keep your body healthy. A dietitian can help you design a personal meal plan that meets your medical needs and takes your culture and personal tastes into account.

A pharmacist can help you understand your medications. You need to know how your medications work, how much to take, when to take them, what side effects to watch for, and whether your medications have any special precautions.

A mental health professional can be a psychologist, a psychiatrist, or a social worker. A mental health professional can help you if you are having trouble accepting your diabetes or your diabetes treatment, and if you have depression, anxiety, or high stress.

A dentist can help with care of your teeth and mouth. People who have diabetes often have problems with their teeth and gums.

An ophthalmologist can help with your eye care and provide dilated eye exams to look for early evidence of diabetic retinopathy every year.

A podiatrist can help with your foot care if you have circulatory or nerve damage to your legs and/or feet.

An exercise physiologist can help you develop an exercise plan that works for you.

However, YOU are the most important member of your health care team. The other members of the diabetes care team can only do their jobs if you are actively involved. YOU are the person who actually does the day-to-day diabetes care. YOU are the expert on your own life, and on what can work for you. Only YOU can tell the other team members if something is not working. YOU are the vital link that helps all the different parts of the team work together. When you succeed in working well with your diabetes care team, YOU are the person who will reap the benefits of having a long and healthy life.

Be sure to follow the Self-Care behaviors outlined in this section.