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Diabetes Management Counselors

Diabetes management counselors are health care professionals.

Working with a health care professional makes managing diabetes easier. [© Shutterstock, 2010]
© Shutterstock, 2010
Working with a health care professional makes managing diabetes easier.

Diabetes Management Counselors

Diabetes management counselors are health care professionals who help patients design customized medical nutrition therapy plans, weight loss or management programs and exercise therapy programs to fit their needs. Counselors focus on self-care behaviors that are essential for improved health and quality of life, such as a patients nutritional eating habits, participation in physical activity, health risk reduction, taking necessary medications, problem-solving skills and methods of coping with the diabetes disease.

The role of diabetes management counselor can be assumed by a range of health care professionals, including physicians, dieticians, registered nurses, pharmacists, mental health professionals and exercise physiologists. Diabetes management counselors provide patients with the tools and knowledge to help them better manage their diabetes and avoid or cope with complications commonly associated with the disease. Diabetes management counseling programs help individuals learn how to modify their behavior to promote better clinical outcomes and improved health. Individuals can receive diabetes counseling management services in hospitals, physicians offices, outpatient environments, pharmacies, managed care facilities or in-home health care settings.

Nutrition Therapy

Developing proper nutritional eating habits is essential for diabetes management. According to the American Diabetes Association, eating well-balanced meals can help individuals maintain healthy blood glucose levels. Individuals with diabetes do not have to start eating special foods or adhere to a complicated meal plan. An ideal diabetic meal plan consists of eating a variety of healthy foods in appropriate portion sizes and maintaining routine mealtimes. Meals should include vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

A dietician can act as a diabetes management counselor by helping diabetics establish healthy eating habits. This includes helping patients learn to avoid overeating, make better food choices and maintain a healthy weight. A dietician can help individuals suffering from diabetes customize a diet that works for their unique lifestyles, goals and tastes. Dieticians may recommend various meal plans, such as carbohydrate-counting plans and the exchange plan. Carbohydrate counting is a plan that sets the amount of carbohydrates an individual eats per day, as well as the time of day the carbohydrates are eaten. This can help individuals control blood sugar levels. The exchange system groups foods into various types, such as fruits or meats, and provides individuals with a flexible and healthy meal plan. Regardless of the meal plan tool used, consistency is a key factor in developing healthy eating habits.

Weight Loss and Exercise Counseling

According to Diabetes Spectrum, overweight and obesity are two problems that commonly coexist with diabetes. Therefore, weight management counseling is a key function for health care professionals working with patients who have diabetes. However, weight management can be a daunting task when working with individuals who have varying behaviors, attitudes, abilities and cultural backgrounds. It has been found that diabetes management counselors who focus on a comprehensive program that incorporates diet, physical activity, and lifestyle and behavior changes are the most successful in helping individuals effectively lose and manage their weight.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, health professionals should initiate a conversation about weight with patients who have a body mass index between 25 and 30 and two or more weight-related health problems, such as diabetes or heart disease. For many patients, the most difficult aspect of a weight loss program is getting started, as losing weight requires a change in lifestyle and behavior. Diabetes management counselors should devise a plan that helps patients set reasonable weight loss goals, engage in healthy eating behaviors and physical activity, and watch meal portion sizes. Counselors should also regularly follow up with patients to ensure that they are following the plan and staying motivated.

Individuals with diabetes can also turn to diabetes management counselors who focus on helping patients plan fitness programs to assist with weight loss. In addition to aiding in weight loss, physical activity can help individuals lower their blood sugar and help their bodies make better use of insulin. Exercise also helps to reduce stress, improve blood fat levels and improve overall well-being.

Mental Health Therapy

Fear, anger, depression, denial and frustration are some of the emotions that individuals may experience when diagnosed with diabetes. Mental health professionals can help patients cope with the emotional aspects of having diabetes. Psychotherapy and counseling are beneficial resources for helping individuals cope with diabetes. Diabetes management counselors help individuals understand and deal with their feelings of anger, resentment, depression and other emotions that are common for individuals coping with diabetes or chronic illness. Diabetes management counselors can also provide a sense of stability for individuals who are ready to self-manage their diabetes. In this capacity, counselors help individuals establish healthy routines for taking medications, engaging in physical activity, maintaining a healthy diet and managing stress.

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