Not me. Those may be the first words that come to mind if you’re diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It isn’t news anyone wants to hear. It’s true—youwill need to make some changes, but your life sure isn’t over. And, with so many diabetes resources online and in your community, you don’t have to go it alone.
First, it may help to get a little clearer about what diabetes is. Your body needs insulin to break down sugar (glucose) into energy. If you have type 2 diabetes, your body either doesn’t have enough insulin or doesn’t use it well. So glucose stays in your blood, causing problems.1
There isn’t a cure for type 2 diabetes. But you can learn to manage it well. You can keep your blood glucose in a safe range by balancing the food you eat with exercise—and medicine, if your doctor prescribes it.
Here are six tips to get you started taking better care of yourself.
1. Get clear about the roles of your diabetes care team: This may include your doctor, nurse, dietitian, diabetes educator, and me, of course—your pharmacist.1 You can also ask your doctor to refer you to a diabetes education program.2
2. Learn about healthy eating. Diabetes diets aren’t as restrictive as they once were. The key thing is to eat a variety of healthy foods—not too much and not too much of one type of food. Don’t skip meals, and space your meals throughout the day.3
3. Try the “Plate Method” for planning your meals. Divide your plate in half, and then divide one side in half again. Fill the largest section with non-starchy vegetables. In one small section, put starchy foods such as whole-grain breads, rice, potatoes, or cereal. In the other small section, put meat or meat substitutes. Add eight ounces of nonfat or low-fat milk and a piece of fruit.4
4. Look for ways to be active throughout the day. Need to make phone calls? Get up and move around while talking. Taking the bus? Get off a stop early and walk. Ask your doctor how much aerobic activity you need daily. This can help your insulin work better. If you need to lose weight, try for more than 30 minutes a day of aerobic activity.5 Dropping just 10 or 15 pounds makes a big difference.6
5. Has your doctor prescribed medication to keep your blood glucose in a healthy range? If so, get clear about how many to take and how often. Also, learn how to prevent side effects and what to do if you have any. 7
6. Learn how to check your blood glucose at home if your doctor asks you to. Your doctor or diabetes educator can help you select a meter that works well for you and is covered by your insurance.8
Remember: I’m part of your diabetes care team. You can think of me as your “go-to” person for answering any questions you have about your diabetes medications.
You can do this!
Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.
1. “Getting Started with Diabetes.” ADA. Available at:http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/recently-diagnosed/where-do-i-begin/getting-started-with-diabetes.html Accessed January 28, 2013.
2. “Taking Care of Your Diabetes.” ADA. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/recently-diagnosed/where-do-i-begin/taking-care-of-your-diabetes.html Accessed January 28, 2013.
3. “Choosing What, How Much, and When to Eat.” ADA. Available at:http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/recently-diagnosed/where-do-i-begin/choosing-what-to-eat.html Accessed January 28, 2013.
4. “Create Your Plate.” ADA. Available at:http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/create-your-plate/?loc=ContentPage-lwt2d-public-choosingwhattoeat Accessed January 28, 2013.
5. “Aerobic Activity.” ADA. Available at:http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/recently-diagnosed/where-do-i-begin/aerobic-activity.html?loc=ContentPage-wheredoibegin-public-aerobic Accessed January 28, 2013.
6. “Weight Loss.” ADA. Available at:http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/recently-diagnosed/where-do-i-begin/weight-loss.html Accessed January 28, 2013.
7. “Medicines.” ADA. Available at:http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/recently-diagnosed/where-do-i-begin/medicines.html Accessed January 28, 2013.
8. “Checking Blood Glucose.” ADA. Available at:http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/recently-diagnosed/where-do-i-begin/checking-blood-glucose.html Accessed January 28, 2013.