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Diabetes Health Center

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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

Everyone is strapped for time in the morning. But, nutritionist Samantha Heller, MS, RD, CDN, says, never skip breakfast, particularly on a workday. Heller is a dietitian and nutrition adviser for, a diabetes education site. "When you have diabetes," Heller says, "especially if you are on medication, skipping breakfast can lead to dangerously low sugar levels." That, she points out, can not only affect your health, but also your safety. "Often," she tells WebMD, "it can have an impact on your job performance too."

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.

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