Diabetes can be hard to manage at the best of times, but when it comes to managing diabetes at work there a few challenges you may come across. Stressful journeys, a hectic schedule, and tight deadlines can sometimes leave you with very little time to fit in diabetes care. Taking care of your diabetes is vital and failure to do so can result in dangerous side effects.
While balancing a hectic work schedule and keeping your condition under wraps can be challenging at times, there are a few helpful things you can do to feel prepared.
1) Start the day with Breakfast
You may be familiar with the saying ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’, and when it comes to controlling your diabetes this holds true.
Starting the day with a diabetic friendly breakfast will help set you up for the day. A breakfast low in carbs and fat, and high in protein and fiber will keep sated throughout the day and prevent you from reaching for naughty snacks, likely to raise your blood sugar levels.
According to one study, researchers found that when people with diabetes skipped breakfast, their lunchtime blood sugar levels were 37% higher than on a day they ate breakfast.
And blood sugar levels were still higher at dinnertime on the day the study volunteers skipped breakfast, by 27%.
2) Talk about it (if you feel like it)
While many people may not feel like telling their colleagues that they have diabetes, sometimes it can make things a lot easier, especially when you need to snack during a meeting or require an insulin injection.
If you don’t feel like having everyone know about your diabetes, (which is a common feeling), it is important to have at least, at least one colleague will recognize the signs and symptoms of low/ high blood sugar and be able to assist if necessary.
3) Test Blood Sugar Regularly
At some point during the day you will need to test your blood sugar and you may want to discuss with your Doctor when is the best time.
If you need a private space to test your blood sugar you can request this from your employer.
There are a number of different ways of testing blood sugar, however, finger- pricking shows you what your blood sugar levels are at that moment in time. While finger-prick testing isn’t a problem and it quickly becomes part of their normal routine.
For others, it can be a stressful experience, and that’s totally understandable.
4) Resist Temptation
When it comes to resisting treats, work can be a tricky environment. Birthdays, office parties and daily biscuits can gradually wear you down, and despite your resistance, you find yourself reaching for sugary snacks.
Be firm and say no to snacks that will spin your blood sugar levels out of control.
Having healthy diabetics snacks on hand will help you to resist temptation, so keep your own stash of snacks that you can indulge in when you feel the need.
It is also important to note that we often mistake hunger for thirst, and one of the effects of diabetes is that it can cause you to feel dehydrated.
If you are feeling extremely thirsty, it may be a sign of high blood sugar, so make sure to monitor your levels throughout the day.
5) Store extra insulin
Being prepared can have a big impact on your diabetes, helping you to better manage your condition.
Having insulin on hand at your workplace is important and could help you to prevent a hypo. Letting your boss know about your diabetes could be helpful in this regard, so you can ask for a private space to administer insulin and test blood sugar levels.
If you feel uncomfortable keeping insulin in the office fridge, or your work environment does not have one, you can store it an insulated lunchbox or small cooler with ice packs.
6) Last but not least…Know Your Rights
Knowing your rights within the workplace is important for any employee. However, if you have diabetes you may want to do some extra research on your employee rights. Organizations such as the American Diabetes Association and Diabetes UK offer detailed advice on this subject and are worth checking out.
To learn more about your employee rights, or if you need any advice regarding discrimination because of your diabetes, the American Diabetes Association is a good touch point and can help guide you on the steps to take.