We are all looking for ways to be healthier in the New Year.
If you have diabetes, it can be especially challenging to navigate the path to
a healthier “you.” Through our Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) Program,
Lexington Medical Center is pleased to offer individuals struggling with
diabetes a resource to better understand and manage their disease.
“[The DSME program]
is a proactive way to take charge of your diabetes,” says Donna Leonard, BSN, RN,
a Diabetes Educator and DSME Program coordinator at Lexington Medical Center. “The
more you know about the disease, the better you can take care of yourself and
your body.” The program, recognized by the American Diabetes Association, is
designed to teach participants the basics of diabetes and how best to approach
nutrition, physical activity, medications and disease monitoring at home. Leonard,
who has with more than 30 years of nursing experience, teaches the three-hour
class each Wednesday, alongside two of Lexington Medical Center’s registered dietitian/nutritionists,
Denise Robinson, RDN,
and Caroline Hodges, MS, RDN. Classes are held in small groups, with the option
of one-on-one consultations for patients with learning disabilities or language
The first part of the course focuses on diabetes education
and self-care, with participants learning about different types of diabetes,
how and when to monitor blood sugar, foot exam techniques, the importance of physical
activity and ways to reduce stress. They also discuss ways in which different medicines
work and the importance of medication adherence. The second part of the program
focuses on the role of diet in controlling diabetes. Hodges and Robinson teach how
different food groups affect blood sugar, the role of carbohydrates in diabetes
and how to determine serving sizes for foods you commonly eat. They also share
tips for meal planning, reading food labels, cooking at home and eating out.
Hodges explained that participants also learn how to plan
a healthy plate using food models in an interactive exercise to build confidence
in planning daily meals. Classes also discuss participants’ current food choices
and options for healthier alternatives.
“Food choice is one of the main components of diabetes
management, and there are many misconceptions about what you can and can’t eat,”
said Hodges. “It’s important to learn that you can still have the foods that
you enjoy, but within limits. It all boils down to moderation and being knowledgeable
about your choices.”
At the close of the class, each patient makes a medical and
lifestyle goal to achieve over the next few months. There are one-on-one follow-up
sessions available after one month with the dietitian to track progress and
discuss meal planning. After three months, there is a one-on-one session with the
diabetes educator to review goal setting and discuss progress in achieving a better
level of diabetes control.
“Managing diabetes doesn’t have to be a daily challenge,”
said Leonard. “Our team at Lexington Medical Center is here to be your partner
in diabetes management, offer support and give you the tools to lead a healthy,
To enroll in a DSME program, patients must be referred from
their primary care physician. Contact your physician today to start your path
to better blood sugar and diabetes control!
Self-Management Program is held each Wednesday at Lexington Medical Center from
8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. For more information, contact Donna Leonard, DSME
Coordinator, at email@example.com or 336.238.4408.