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Diabetes Quickstart Guide

Your doctor just said that you have diabetes. Now what? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, weighed down with information and advice. But the best way to handle diabetes is the same as with any other health issue: taking it one step at a time.   

Start with the basics: You’ll need to change your diet, test your blood sugar, and know where to go for support when you need motivation or advice. Making a simple plan to address your diabetes from the start will set you up for success now and in the future.


Changing your diet

  • The most important meal. Your blood sugar may be off after not eating for several hours, so making time for breakfast is very Proteins like eggs or lean ham and whole-grain carbs like wheat toast or oatmeal are ideal.
  • Wholehearted whole-grains. Whole-grain carbs are higher in fiber and take longer for you to digest, which helps you maintain an even blood sugar level.
  • Go nuts for nuts. If you’re looking for a healthy snack, grab a handful of nuts. They’re low in carbs and packed with healthy fats that will help you feel full for a long time. But nuts are high in calories, so stick to the recommended serving size.
  • A hard no on soft drinks. Full-calorie soft drinks are packed with sugar, and diet drinks make you crave sugar. Replace soda with a glass of clear, crisp water and you’ll see the difference it makes.
  • Walk on. Exercise can help control your blood sugar, curb your appetite, and even brighten your mood. So try to walk for at least five minutes a day, and build your endurance from there.


Testing your blood 

  • Test your blood as often as your doctor recommends. Take your first reading as soon as you wake up. If you need to take a second reading, do that two hours after your biggest meal of the day.
  • UPMC Health Plan members can receive a OneTouch Verio Flex meter at no cost. You can connect it to your smartphone with the OneTouch Reveal app, which makes it easy to track your glucose levels and share them with your doctor. To order call 1-800-460-0663 and use order code 223UPM002.
  • Talk to your doctor about your regular HbA1c blood sugar tests, which is the best indicator of how well you’re managing your diabetes.
  • Schedule regular eye exams and foot screenings. Nerve damage is a potential risk for those with diabetes, so don’t skip these important tests.


Where to get help 

  • Diabetes health care managing – When you need some one-on-one attention, you can speak to a care manager who can give advice on making healthy food choices, getting exercise, and more. Call 1-866-778-6073; TTY users can call 1-800-361-2629. There’s no additional cost for this service to UPMC Health Plan members.


  • Diabetes self-management education – If you learn better in a classroom setting, you can take advantage of these courses taught by a certified diabetes instructor. You can learn about blood glucose monitoring, insulin, risk reduction, and healthy eating options. A deductible and coinsurance may apply. For a list of participating locations, visit and speak to your doctor for a referral.


  • Dietitian – If you’d like help developing a personalized meal plan, this might be a great option. You’ll meet one-on-one with a registered dietitian to discuss healthy eating, recipes, and other topics. A copayment or deductible and coinsurance may apply. Call your doctor for a referral.


Start with these steps and build a plan that works for you!