Internet Resources to Help You Manage Your Diabetes
John Motsko, RPh, CDE
Apple Drugs Diabetes Center
Over the past several years, diabetes information on the Internet has not only increased in volume, but also in the quality of information available. Many individuals with diabetes prefer the casual, personal use of the Internet to help them better manage their diabetes. In this article I will describe some of the more common (and useful) websites an individual (or their partner, significant other, family member or friend) can use to better understand what diabetes is and the patient’s role in helping to manage it. Often times it’s difficult to obtain this important information simply at a physician’s appointment. The use of the resources of the Internet, plus coaching from their local diabetes educator, can assist patients very effectively in managing their diabetes
Here are a few of my favorites:
Journey for Control (http://www.journeyforcontrol.com) is an easy to use, interactive website that allows patients to access practical tools to manage their diabetes. One of the unique features of this site is an “electronic book” under the tab of patient tools called the “go to guide”. When the “book” is accessed, the individual can actually see and hear descriptions of certain topics, such as “how does the body utilize glucose” or “what is insulin resistance”. These are short YouTube videos that explain the topics very simply and efficiently. There is also an interactive quiz at the end of each chapter of the “book”.
Calorie King (http://www.calorieking.com) is another interactive site that allows individuals to learn about the nutritional content of foods and how they affect blood sugar management and weight control. It’s a very helpful site for individuals to look up fast food products. For an additional $49 registration fee individuals can “join” and track their food intake, activity and results. If you don’t want to join, you can still look up nutritional information on different foods.
For Carbohydrate Information the USDA has a very comprehensive site listing the carbohydrate content of about 1500 different foods, including foods that may not have a “nutrition label” included with them, such as raw foods or bulk packaged foods. The list is 27 pages long, but I usually ask individuals to print it out then highlight the foods they normally eat or intend to eat. The website is under www.nutrition.gov and under the “subject tab” on the left “what’s in food-carbohydrates”.
The USDA also has a comprehensive website “Choose my Plate” (http://www.choosemyplate.gov). Again a website chocked full of information; one of the more interesting functions is the ‘Super Tracker’ tool that allows individuals to create a profile and track food intake, exercise and results.
The National Diabetes Education Program website (http://www.ndep.nih.gov) contains a variety of publications and other resources, including many publications in Spanish. This resource website is also very helpful for those involved in diabetes support, such as church groups or other community based organizations.
The American Diabetes Association’s website (www.diabetes.org) contains information on the basics of diabetes and nutrition. It’s also a site very helpful for individuals with children with diabetes. While it tends to be focus mainly on Type 1 diabetes, there are very good resources also available for the patient with Type 2 Diabetes.
The American Association of Diabetes Educator patient website (www.diabetesselfcare.org) offers another comprehensive guide to managing diabetes. The site focuses on the AADE 7- a group of 7 behaviors needed to help individuals understand and manage their diabetes. The “AADE7 Self Care Behaviors” are composed of understanding diabetes, monitoring, being active, healthy eating, medications, risk reduction, problem solving and healthy coping. Many of the AADE accredited centers use these behaviors as the basis of their education classes. The site also allows individuals to “find a diabetes educator” by searching for one by state or zip code
Another helpful website is A to Z Health (http://diabetes.atozhealth.com). This is a very helpful website that includes links, printable resources and videos, both in English and in Spanish to visually support the ideas of diabetes self-management and risk reduction.
My Fitness Pal (www.myfitnesspal.com) is a free site focusing on weight loss and fitness. It allows individuals to track food intake, activity and weight loss. In additions the site contains a large data base of foods for reference in meal planning. This site is also available as an Application on Smart Phone devices.
Speaking of Smart Phone applications, there is a large selection of health related applications available, many of them focused on diabetes. Included among these is “GoMeals” which allows individuals to track their food intake and activity on their phone. My Fitness Pal also has a similar application for your Smart Phone. Lastly, another helpful application available on for your Smart Phone is a new product called Glooko. Glooko is an application that allows you to download your blood glucose results from your meter to your phone or Pad device. Once downloaded, the data can be viewed in several forms, such as a log book in which you can include foods eaten, activity, etc. and several very helpful graphic options that visually show blood glucose monitoring progress. Once downloaded these report can be e-mailed or even printed out to share with your diabetes educator or health care provider. The Glooko app requires a connecting cable which is available for just about all popular meters for about $30. Visit their website (www.glooko.com) for more information or search the application icon on your phone or PAD for the free application.
As you may have heard your diabetes coach say many times, diabetes is a disease where self-management skills play the most important role in your success. The more recent Internet and Smart Phone applications can help you help yourself. Just make sure you stick to the ones that are supported by reputable organizations, not strictly advertisers. If you have a question about the site’s validity, please check with your diabetes support individual or your Certified Diabetes Educator.