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Why Do You Want to Check My Feet?

By Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., R.D., C.D.E

Bottom of her feetDoes it seem strange that your diabetes educator, nutritionist, or medical provider wants to check your feet because you have diabetes?

They are simply following the American Diabetes Association’s 2015 Guidelines for Diabetes Care which recommends that “For all patients with diabetes, perform an annual comprehensive foot examination to identify risk factors. The foot examination should include inspection and assessment of foot pulses. All patients with insensate feet, foot deformities, or a history of foot ulcers have their feet examined at every visit.”

How does diabetes affect your feet?

As described in Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes (Chapter 14, Care: Staying Healthy), there are several important reasons that having elevated blood sugars affect your feet. Diabetes can cause both large vessel (macrovascular) and small vessel (microvascular) disease. These can affect a person’s feet in two ways. The first is a decrease in blood flow, a condition called peripheral vascular disease. The second is a decrease in a person’s ability to feel their feet. This is because elevated blood sugar can affect the ability of nerves to send and receive signals. This condition is called neuropathy. Symptoms of neuropathy include tingling, burning, intense pain, or loss of the ability to sense pain, temperature, or even feeling the feet touch the ground. The loss of these protective sensations increases your risk of injury, infections, and difficulty walking.

What can you do to protect your feet?

  • Manage your blood sugar carefully.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Always wear shoes.
  • Check your feet daily.
  • Look for swelling, redness, tenderness, cracks, open sores, or changes in color of the skin.
  • Notice whether your feet feel hot or cold to the touch.
  • Don’t ignore an ingrown toenail or a sore on your foot.
  • See your health care provider(s) regularly to have your feet checked.

If you notice any problems, see your health care professional. When you make the appointment, please be sure to say that you have diabetes and that you have a concern about your feet so you will be seen right away.

Take charge of your diabetes care!

Understanding how to care for your diabetes, including your feet, is an important step in taking charge of your health. If you want to learn more about diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes is a comprehensive mindfulness-based guide to understanding and managing prediabetes and diabetes. This practical mind-body approach shifts the conversation from rigid nutrition rules and strict exercise regimens to awareness of beliefs, thoughts, physical sensations, and habits for long-term lifestyle changes.


About the author

Megrette Fletcher is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, author, and co-founder of The Center for Mindful Eating. Megrette is the 2013-2014 president of The Center for Mindful Eating, a non-profit, organization to assist health professionals to explore the concepts of mindful eating. She has written articles for and has been quoted about mindful eating in Diabetes Self Management, Today’s Dietitian, Today’s Social Worker, Bariatric Times, Glamour, Family Circle, The Wall Street Journal, US News and World Report, Women’s Day, and Oxygen Magazine. Megrette currently works as a diabetes educator in Dover, New Hampshire.

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