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Diabetes 9 to 5: Tips to Help You Manage Your Diabetes at Work

Controlling symptoms is critical to controlling your diabetes. Here's how experts say you can do the job while on the job.

Diabetes on the Job: Start Your Workday Right continued...

Heller says a healthy breakfast of fat-free yogurt, some whole-grain cereal, an egg white omelet, or even a whole-wheat bagel with cream cheese will help set the tone for a productive workday. It's also important, she says, to have a workday "meal plan" in mind -- one that can help keep energy levels and concentration high throughout the day.

One way to do that is to bring your lunch and snacks from home. That way, you know exactly what you're going to be eating. In addition, if you take insulin, Golden says you should have food ready to eat following your injection. Doing so can prevent low blood sugar problems that may occur when there is too much time between your injection and your meal.

If brown-bagging it is not convenient or possible, Golden says it's important to familiarize yourself with whatever foods are going to be available to you. Whether the food comes from a lunch cart, cafeteria, or diner, Golden says there will always be some choices that are better than others. "I urge my patients," she says, "to learn what's in the dishes they think they might like."

That means taking a trip to the cafeteria ahead of time and asking lots of questions. Ditto for the lunch cart caterer or the local eatery. "Don't feel embarrassed to ask," Golden says. "You have to figure out what's best for you from both a blood sugar and a calorie perspective."

If you don't want to reveal you're asking because you have diabetes, experts say you can always fall back on allergies or even weight control as your reason for the inquiry. Experts also recommend compiling a list of "safe foods" that you know are going to be OK to eat no matter where or when you eat them.

Diabetes on the Job: Testing Sugar Levels and Taking Insulin

At some point, you're going to need to test your blood sugar while you're on the job. Experts say a little planning can make it easier to fit doing so into your workday.

"What concerns many employers and other employees," Golden says, "is the blood and the instruments used to draw the blood. But if you prepare a discreet kit ahead of time, with a clean, neat way of disposing your lancets, there shouldn't be a problem."

She says an empty milk carton makes a great disposal system. You can keep it in a desk drawer along with a package of individually wrapped alcohol prep pads to wipe your finger before testing and to help insure both an accurate test and easy cleanup.

Sometimes it's impossible to get a minute of privacy at your desk to take your test. Then, says Golden, keeping all your supplies in a small bag makes it easier to sneak in a quick trip to the restroom. "Having everything together," she says, "will allow you to slip out and back in very quickly. Being organized is the best way to be discreet."

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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