Type 2 Diabetes Tips

Newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes
10 tips that will help you right now:

  1. Let go of guilt and blame. You may hear from friends, family and yourself that it was your sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits that earned you the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. This added burden may fuel a self-defeating attitude and feelings of shame. Acknowledge those feelings, let them go and move on.
  2. Acceptance. Upon hearing the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, one may be in a state of disbelief, shock or denial. One day you are fine then suddenly your life, as you know it, has forever changed. The moment you accept your diagnosis, the sooner you can take control and the necessary steps to understanding and managing your diabetes. Diabetes is incurable but through acceptance one can manage it and live a full and healthy life.
  3. Knowledge is power. Gaining knowledge of what diabetes is and how it works takes the mystery out of the highs and lows of blood sugar. Knowing how and when to test your blood sugar sheds light on how food, time of day, hormone cycles, exercise and stress affect your blood sugar.
  4. Know your ABCs of diabetes. The ABCs stand for A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol. Knowing your A1C gives you an idea of how high your blood sugars have been over the past 2-3 months. Having it retested accordingly gives you feedback as to how effective your lifestyle efforts and/or medication has been. It is important keep an eye on blood pressure and cholesterol since people with diabetes are at a higher risk for stroke and heart disease.
  5. Learn how food affects your blood sugar. Knowing how foods affect your blood sugar is putting you in the driver’s seat. At first there is a big learning curve. Over time by testing blood sugar, before and after meals, you can estimate how much your blood sugar will typically (“typically”, because there are many factors) rise after a certain food or meal. Once you know how your body responds to certain foods (especially carbohydrates), you can decide how much or how often to eat certain foods.
  6. Get moving. Speak to your doctor about activities that are right for you. Most people can benefit from a simple 30-minute daily walk, which can do wonders for your mood, blood sugar and weight. If 30 minutes is unrealistic for you at this time, start with 10 minutes and work up to 30 minutes over time.
  7. Socializing and eating out. Let’s be honest, maintaining a social life and eating out with diabetes can present challenges but it can be done. Special occasions and celebrations always include delicious and tempting foods. Building a mental toolbox of strategies beforehand can help navigate these situations. Things to include in your toolbox might be: replacing high carbohydrate foods with non-starchy vegetables or a side salad, eating a low or no-carb meal so that you can have a small dessert, putting half of your meal in a doggy-bag at the start of it, drink no-carb beverages, share an entrée with someone and a simple “no thank you” response to unwanted offers. Overtime, being more selective in your choices can allow you to enjoy them even more than before.
  8. Build your diabetes team. A diabetes care team usually includes, at the least, your primary care physician (PCP), an eye doctor (ophthalmologist), a registered dietitian (RD) and a certified diabetes educator (CDE). Other specialties may be needed such as a foot doctor (podiatrist), a nerve doctor (neurologist) or a diabetes specialist. Since diabetes is usually going on under the radar for years before diagnosis it is best to get a retinal (eye) exam, test for protein in your urine and a foot exam as soon as reasonably possible. This way you have a baseline of test results of the most common areas in which diabetic complications occur, close to the time of diagnosis.
  9. Get connected. Find educational opportunities and support groups in your community. Often clinics or hospitals offer group classes on nutrition and/or diabetes. Listening to others and having a platform to express yourself can help deal with the day-to-day challenges that come with living with diabetes. The Internet also offers endless options of chat rooms, e-mail lists, blogs, newsgroups and electronic newsletters. Just be wary of quick fixes and misinformation (of which there is no lacking).
  10. Dealing with depression. It is understandable that upon hearing that you have an incurable, chronic disease that it would evoke feelings of sadness and even cause tears. It is important to know that mourning your previous life is a normal part of the process and it will pass. Talking with people who understand is extremely helpful (see number 8 above). Beyond feelings of sadness is clinical depression, which includes feelings of hopelessness that can last for weeks or months. People with diabetes suffer from depression more than the general population. It is important to seek help for clinical depression. Speak with your doctor or therapist to get help.