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Understanding diabetes

When you have diabetes, your body is unable to use glucose (sugar) for energy. This is because there is either not enough insulin to move the sugar into the cells of the body, or because your body does not respond well to insulin.

The goals of managing diabetes are to:1

  • Keep your blood sugar levels as near to normal as possible
  • Help slow or possibly prevent the development of diabetes-related health problems

How to test blood sugar

Testing your blood glucose is probably easier than you think:

  • Wash your hands
  • Place a test strip into your blood glucose meter
  • Use your lancing device to prick your finger for a small blood sample and place it onto the test strip*
  • Wait for your result. Your blood sugar level will appear on the meter display
  • Your doctor, pharmacist or diabetes educator can answer any questions you may have about checking your blood glucose

*Always check the instructions in the User Manual for your specific glucose meter to know how to use it to get accurate blood glucose readings.

Managing your diabetes1

You can take steps to manage your diabetes by:

  1. Making healthful food choices
  2. Being physically active
  3. Testing your blood glucose as recommended by your healthcare professional
  4. Taking medicines: tablets or injectable medicines like insulin, as prescribed by your doctor
  5. Learning information and skills for diabetes self-management

Recommended blood sugar targets:

Recommended blood sugar targets:

Before meal blood sugar

4.0–7.0 mmol/L


After meal blood sugar

5.0–10.0 mmol/L

1 Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee. Diabetes Canada 2018 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada. Can J Diabetes. 2018;42(Suppl 1):S1-S325