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Living with Diabetes

Diabetes is a serious condition that will likely require changes to your lifestyle and diet. Trust UNM Health to help you manage your disease so you can go on living a normal and healthy life.

Center for Diabetes and Nutrition Education

UNM Health System’s Diabetes Education Program offers education and medical nutrition therapy to help you manage your daily life with diabetes. Our Certified Diabetes Educators (CDEs) are nurses and dieticians who will help you learn how to manage your condition and improve your quality of life. You will work closely with a CDE for an individualized plan for education and diabetes care. Your CDE will collaborate with your physician to help establish the best care possible. 

Some of the classes we offer include:

  • Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension
  • Pre-Diabetes (Spanish classes also available at times)
  • Heart Health – Dyslipidemia (cooking class)
  • Carb Counting
  • Current Topics in Health and Wellness

The classes are free, but pre-registration is required. Please call 505-272-2340 to register and find out more information.

For more information about the Center, please check out our brochure: English [PDF], Spanish [PDF]

Diabetes Weight Loss Program

The Center for Diabetes and Nutrition Education also offers this one-of-a-kind, long-term program, which helps our patients use fewer medications by lowering your blood pressure and blood sugar. Each individually tailored program helps patients avoid the “crash and burn” effects of hypoglycemia as our CDE nurses and dieticians work with you to help lower your weight, manage your diabetes and improve your overall quality of life.

National Diabetes Prevention Program

Also available through the Center for Diabetes and Nutrition Education, this provides support and encouragement in making healthy lifestyle changes like cutting back on sugary drinks and fatty food. This program is free and open to the public. To enroll you must sign up for the Pre-Diabetes class.

Our registered dieticians lead the therapy. We will help you create a healthy diet by providing you with seven major self-management practices like self-monitoring your blood glucose, choosing healthy foods to eat, and eliminating other health risks like smoking.

Participants will also learn about how to correctly ready food labels, safely increase your physical activity, and measure and record food portions.

Medical Nutrition Therapy

If you have a primary care provider within the UNM Health system, then you are able to participate and benefit from this program. Featuring one-on-one sessions with registered dieticians, you receive nutrition assessment and treatment recommendations related to:

  • Food intolerances and allergies
  • Obesity
  • Eating disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Dyslipisemia
  • Kidney and liver disorders
  • Food-related gastrointestinal problems

Let our experts help you live a healthy lifestyle and increase your quality of life. Call us at 505-272-2340 for more information.

Diabetes Comprehensive Care Center

This clinic is solely for patients with type 1 and difficult-to-control type 2 diabetes. Staffed by CDEs, we offer care by appointment only to patients needing help managing their diabetes. Designed as the first step in establishing a specialized diabetic program for UNM Health, this new center will make it easier and more convenient for our patients to access care.

Managing Your Diabetes

Food and Diabetes

Having diabetes does not mean that you have to go on a special diet, but it is important to know that what you eat affects your blood sugar. Here are a couple things to keep in mind for healthy eating with diabetes:

  • Eat meals at regular times. Eating your meals at the same time every day will help keep blood sugars at an even level. It is important to eat something for breakfast soon after waking up as well.
  • Avoid sweetened drinks. Liquid sugar – such as regular soda, fruit juice and sports drinks – can raise blood sugars very quickly. It is best to avoid these drinks. Instead, choose water or unsweetened tea.
  • Know your carbs. Carbohydrates (carbs) are foods that turn into sugar. Carbohydrates are found in starches, fruit, milk, yogurt and sweets.
    • Foods that will raise blood sugar include bread, pasta, tortillas, beans, rice, corn, peas, potatoes, crackers, pancakes, fruits, milk, yogurt, cereal and sweets.
    • Foods that do not raise blood sugar include eggs, nuts, cottage cheese, chicken, fish, beef, turkey, peanut butter, red or green chile and vegetables (except corn, peas and potatoes). If you are still hungry after a meal, choose one of these foods to eat. Vegetables are always the best choice!

Checking Your Blood Sugar

Checking your blood sugars will help you take the right steps to control your diabetes. A finger stick test will tell you much sugar is in your blood at the time you test.

For many people with diabetes, there are two important times to test:

  1. Before eating anything in the morning. This is called a fasting test.
  2. One to two hours after the start of a meal.

Good blood sugar goals for most people include:

  • Before a meal or four hours after a meal: 90-130
  • Two hours after a meal: less than 180

Low Blood Sugar

Hypoglycemia means that your blood sugar is low. For most people, this means your blood sugar number is less than 70. Here are some symptoms to watch for that might indicate low blood sugar levels:

  • Headache
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Feeling tired
  • Weakness
  • Hunger
  • Feeling anxious

If you think your blood sugar is low then check it right away. If you can’t check it, then treat it just to be safe.

If your blood sugar is less than 70 then you should eat a food high in sugar that does not have fat, such as one of these:

  • Half a cup of fruit juice
  • Half a can of regular soda
  • Three or four hard candies such as (Lifesavers™ or Jolly Ranchers™)
  • One small box of raisins
  • One tablespoon of sugar
  • Three or four glucose tablets

Wait 15 minutes and check your sugar again. If it is still below 80, have another serving of a sugary food. Once your blood sugar is back to normal, you may still need to eat more. If it will be longer than 30 minutes until your next meal, eat a small snack. A glass of low-fat milk or a piece of fruit is a good choice.

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY: Low blood sugar can happen very quickly. If it is not treated right away you can pass out. If you have type 1 diabetes, you may need a glucagon shot. Someone you live with should learn how to give you this shot. If they are not able to give you the shot, then call 911 immediately. 


Here are a couple things to keep in mind about insulin:

  • Keep your extra bottles of insulin in the refrigerator. You may store the bottle that you are currently using at room temperature up to one month. Do not let insulin freeze or get too warm. Do not keep it in your car!
  • Lancets and syringes can be re-used only by you. Recap the needle to keep it clean. When the needle is no longer sharp, throw the syringe or lancet away into a sturdy container with a lid (like a detergent or bleach bottle). When the container is three-quarters full, screw the lid on tight and put it in your trash.
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