As you can see, this compact new 250-page volume by Michael A. Weiss and Martha M. Funnell is actually called, "The Little Diabetes Book YOU Need to Read." How's that for making your book sound indispensable?Little_diabetes_book

Mike is a former chair of the American Diabetes Association who's been living with Type 1 diabetes for over 23 years. Marti (Martha) is registered nurse and prominent certified diabetes educator (CDE), who's made quite a name for herself in research and training. Their book is interspersed with commentary from each of them -- a personal perspective from a patient and an educator.

And it's a really neat book. I like the plain-talkin' writing style. I like the way it's organized into three simple sections: Learning, Doing, and Now What? I don't particularly like the ongoing quarterback analogy, but maybe that's just me... not a football fan.

In the Learning section, you're encouraged to learn everything you can about diabetes itself, about your health care team, and about yourself. To me, that last item is key, because it's the missing link in diabetes care in the past. The Old School approach was to throw orders at patients, without any regard to their personal preferences or life situation. This book represents the polar opposite, encouraging you to THINK HARD about your own unique reality: time constraints, diet preferences, culture and religion, social dynamics, your emotional state, anything that might affect your diabetes care.

In the Doing section, you're again encouraged to be realistic: rather than shooting for "perfect" numbers, you can start by aiming for goals that are an improvement over where you are now. The authors talk about the cost-benefit trade-off of various actions, and how far you are willing to push yourself. On page 163, you finally get to the nitty-gritty of "identifying your guiding principles." In addition to setting personal goals for daily BG levels, lipids, weight and other physical parameters, you're asked to rate, on a scale of 1 to 10, how much RESPONSIBILITY you want for your own diabetes plan (versus your doctor or educator), and how much FLEXIBILITY you desire.

You're presented with simple, unalienable truths like: "The more intensively you manage your diabetes, the more decisions you will have to make. The more choices you are willing and able to make, the more flexibility you will have." Right. If you don't want to eat the same exact thing for breakfast every day, you're going to have to work harder to keep your BG in range.

In the Now What? section, you're again encouraged to do some soul-searching with regard to facing challenges and handling stress. For example, faced with a special event or holiday, your options basically are:

* Choose to ignore your plan for that meal

* Eat small portions of food you would usually avoid

* Take additional insulin

* Exercise more to balance your blood sugar

* If it's a potluck, choose the foods you enjoy that actually fit with your goals

Pretty common sense, but it's nice to be reminded that a logical approach will yield more predictable results.

And to sum it all up, the authors have an acronym for you (surprise!). Create a LIFE plan:

Learn all you can about diabetes and yourself

Identify your three guiding principles (role, flexibility, targets)

Formulate a plan

Experiment with and evaluate that plan.

In truth, I was amazed at how much this down-to-Earth approach to diabetes/life balance has in common with that of our book, Know Your Numbers, Outlive Your Diabetes. It's all about understanding yourself and your diabetes, and making a realistic plan for taking charge of your own health.

A central theme in Weiss and Funnell's book is: Real diabetes is not easy. Thank heavens! Another set of authors willing to put that down in black and white.

[ Running Press, July 2007, $10.36 on]

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This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.