Source from Everyday Health, By Marijke Vroomen-Durning, RN | Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
If you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, these simple strategies can help you avoid complications and enjoy life.
Every day, about 5000 people are newly diagnosed with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. And for most of them, getting this news is likely to cause a swirl of emotions and questions, with perhaps the most important one being: What do I do now?
Jenny De Jesus, RN, CDE, a diabetes educator at the Friedman Diabetes Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, explains it in rather simple terms: “Staying healthy with diabetes is all about making choices. The most important things people with diabetes can do are making healthy food choices, getting some exercise, testing their blood glucose, and taking their medications. And it’s important to stay informed and ask questions during your doctor visits. The more you know, the more you can do for yourself to control your diabetes.”
If you’re one of the millions of people who developed type 2 diabetes as a result of lifestyle factors, consider making these important changes:
- Healthy food choices. Start by choosing foods that are low-fat and low-sugar and emphasizing vegetables, fruit, and fiber. The next part of this strategy is portion control — eat the right amount for a healthy diet and weight control.
- Eat regularly. Resist eating huge meals once or twice in a day. Space your food intake throughout your waking hours by having smaller, more frequent meals and planned snacks at regular intervals, which can help keep your blood sugar on an even keel.
- Exercise regularly. Doctors usually recommend that people do aerobic exercises — those that make the heart work, such as cycling or jogging. But not everyone can, for various reasons. You should discuss this with your doctor to see what type of exercise works best for you.
- Check your blood glucose. How often youc heck your blood glucose depends on you and your doctor. Whatever your personalized plan involves, that is the routine you should maintain. By checking your blood glucose, you become aware of what affects your levels and you may be able to catch problems before they get out of hand.
- Take your medication. It may sound like an obvious rule, but many people don’t take theirmedications as prescribed. And be sure to take only those medications that have been prescribed for you and you alone, and in the doses and frequency prescribed for you.
- Stay informed. While much of the scientific information and the latest research may be hard to understand, try to be aware of any health reports of new or changing treatments for type 2 diabetes. Stay informed, and don’t hesitate to ask your health care team if progress you hear about in the news applies to you.
- Get help for depression.Depression and diabetes often go hand in hand, and struggling with blue moods can make it difficult to care for your health. A recent study in the Annals of Family Medicine found that treating both conditions helped people stay on top of their diabetes medications and led to improved blood sugar levels, as well as reducing depression symptoms. If you feel overwhelmed by your diabetes care, talk about your feelings to a doctor or diabetes educator.
- Prevent sores. One of the problems that affects many people with type 2 diabetes is sores on the feet, which can develop into such severe wounds that sometimes amputation of the foot is needed. Because of this, it’s very important that you inspect your feet regularly for blisters, cuts, and sores. If you are having problems with your feet or you find a sore that isn’t healing, speak with your doctor immediately.
- Educate family and friends. A 2011 British survey found that 34 percent of those with diabetes were keeping their condition a secret from friends, family, and employers, even missing insulin injections or delaying blood sugar testing to avoid drawing attention to themselves. Don’t let shame put your health at risk — it’s always a good idea to educate your family and close friends about your disease so they can learn what to watch for and help you manage. If your loved ones know how to recognize the signs of dangerously high or low blood glucose levels, a potential tragedy may be avoided.
- Identify yourself. Wear a medical alert bracelet or, at the very least, carry an identification card that tells people you have type 2 diabetes. These will speak for you if you’re in a crisis and can’t speak for yourself.