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Tips to help manage diabetes at work

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Millions of people with diabetes refuse to let it get in the way of their careers, and there's no reason they should.

Diabetes may present some working day challenges. Knowing how to manage these is the key. The more you know about your diabetes, and the more you know about controlling your blood glucose levels, the better off you'll be.

The more you know, the better prepared you will be to deal with any work situations that arise, including explaining your condition to others if you decide to.

People with diabetes have legal protection in the workplace under disability discrimination laws, even though people with diabetes may not describe their condition as a disability.

Some jobs have special health rules meaning diabetes would need to be disclosed. However, most jobs have no legal requirement for this. Deciding whether to tell employers or colleagues is a matter of personal choice.

Here are some tips and advice on diabetes in the workplace.

Start your working day the right way

Everyone is short of time in the morning but you should never miss breakfast, particularly on a working day.

When you have diabetes, depending on your medication, skipping breakfast can lead to dangerously low glucose levels.

Not only can missing breakfast affect your health but it can also affect safety and performance at work.

A healthy breakfast will help set the tone for a productive working day. It’s also important to have a healthy lunch in mind. This will help your energy levels and concentration stay high throughout the day.

You may choose to take a packed lunch and snacks to work. This way you know exactly what you’re going to be eating and you can eat it whenever you are ready to. If you choose to buy your lunch, whether the food comes from a sandwich bar, work canteen or cafe, there will always be some choices that are better than others. Try to go for the healthier choices, a lunch that includes some fruit or vegetables and that is low in salt, sugar and fat, as this is better for your general good health.

Testing glucose levels and taking insulin

Depending on how you manage your diabetes, you might need to test your blood glucose levels while you are at work, and some people with diabetes will need to give themselves insulin injections.

Because all workplaces are different, there's no set advice given on where to do tests and jabs. Diabetes UK says it should be done where the person feels most comfortable, and the toilet is less than ideal for hygiene reasons. Some people who work in offices may do it at their desk, others may prefer the canteen, or some may prefer a private area.

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