How to Use SparkPeople When You Have Type 1 DiabetesFree Weight Loss Tools for People with Diabetes
-- By Amy Poetker, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator
Welcome to SparkPeople, America's most active weight-loss and healthy living website! This article will introduce you to all of the SparkPeople features that can help adults manage type 1 diabetes, including our Spark*D Diabetes Management Program , which offers a variety of free tools, trackers, articles and support options that can help you achieve success in the lifestyle management program that your doctor, health care provider and/or Certified Diabetes Educator has outlined for you. We also offer free diabetes meal plans created by registered dietitians!
SparkPeople can help you with the diet, exercise and carbohydrate-counting components of your treatment plan, but please note that our website is no substitute for regular medical care. While certified diabetes educators helped develop these articles and tools, you should follow the treatment guidelines given to you by your doctor and/or certified diabetes educator should you encounter any contradictions to your treatment plan. <pagebreak>
About Type 1 Diabetes
Because they can’t make insulin on their own, people with type 1 diabetes must supply the body with insulin by using a pump or injections. They must work to manage the disease for the rest of their lives.
In our Diabetes (Spark*D) Condition Center, found under the "Your Health" tab at the top of the site, you'll find dozens of healthy lifestyle articles we created specifically for people with diabetes, including:
- Types of Diabetes
- Exercising with Type 1 Diabetes
- Understanding Hypoglycemia
- Carbohydrate-Counting Chart for People with Diabetes
- And more
Free Meal Plans. Our meal plans were created by registered dietitians and meet the basic dietary guidelines for people with diabetes (50% carbohydrates, 30% protein, 20% fat). The diabetes meal plans also limit carbohydrate at each meal and snack to meet basic carbohydrate counting guidelines. We provide a calorie range based on your current weight and goal weight (if trying to lose weight). You can access your meal plans by visiting your Nutrition Tracker page (found under the "My Trackers" tab at the top of the site). Make sure your meal plans are turned on and that you flagged "type 1 diabetes" when setting up your SparkPeople account to ensure that the meal plan provided is suitable for your needs. To check your diabetes program settings, click here.
Food and Nutrition Tracker. Our Nutrition Tracker is a great tool for anyone who wants to eat better, but food tracking (namely, carbohydrate counting) is especially important for people with type 1 diabetes. Some of the features on our Nutrition Tracker that specifically benefit people with diabetes include calorie and carbohydrate goals and totals for each meal and snack, as well as for the day; a quick Glucose Tracker for pre- and post-meal tracking; fields to track the recommended three meals and two snacks per day; and several reports that you can print and share with your health care providers.
Glucose (Blood Sugar) Tracker with Printable Reports. On your weigh-in page, you have the option to track several other health measurements, including blood sugar. Our Glucose Tracker includes options for tracking your pre- and post-meal blood sugar levels as well as your fasting blood sugar levels. This tracker also includes links to reports that you can print to share with your health care provider. You can access your Glucose Tracker by visiting your Weigh-In and Other Measurements page (found on your Start page).
Exercise Plans and Workout Information. Physical activity helps to keep the heart and blood vessels healthy, helps the body use insulin better, and is very important in achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight. Because of the nature of Type 1 diabetes and its effect on how the body normally responds to exercise, it is extremely important to ask your doctor for guidance on how to incorporate regular exercise into your diabetes management plan. SparkPeople offers hundreds of workouts, exercise articles, free fitness videos and a Fitness Tracker to help you start and sustain a sound exercise program—for life. To get started, check out these exercise basics or begin a walking program with our Walking Guide.
Calendar and Reminders for Appointments and Tests. People with type 1 diabetes are advised to see their doctors every 3 months. You can use SparkPeople's Planner (found under the "My Trackers" tab at the top of the site) to keep track of your appointments and set up email reminders for them, too, so that you never miss an important test again.
- Community Support. Positive support and encouragement is the foundation of SparkPeople, and our Community provides ample opportunities for you to connect with experts, peers, and others like you who have type 1 diabetes. We recommend that you join a diabetes-focused SparkTeam to connect with others who understand exactly what you're going through. Please note that if you flagged type 1 diabetes when you joined SparkPeople, we automatically placed you into our Managing Diabetes SparkTeam. To learn more about the benefits of SparkTeams and how to use them, click here.
Taking control of your health requires some education and commitment, but SparkPeople is here to help you along the way. Our articles, tips and support resources will help you establish a healthy lifestyle and manage your diabetes effectively. You can learn more about healthy cooking, fitness, general nutrition and motivation by visiting the Healthy Lifestyle resource centers (found under the "Healthy Lifestyle" tab at the top of the site).
For more specific information or help, talk to your health care provider. The American Diabetes Association's National Call Center also offers live advice from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday at 1-800-DIABETES or 1-800-342-2383.