A diagnosis of diabetes can be scary and confusing. You may feel like you’ve done something wrong or as if life as you know it is over. Although you will likely have to make certain diet and lifestyle changes, diabetes doesn’t have to negatively affect the quality of your life – if you take the necessary steps to understand it and control it.
The three most important things you need to know:
How to manage your diabetes. New patients should initially test their blood glucose levels around 10 times a day. Why so often? So that you can gain a better understanding of how your food, activity level, and other factors affect your blood sugar.
To begin, eat like you normally eat and test your blood glucose when you first wake up, before and after eating, before and after exercising, and before going to bed. You’ll start to notice patterns and start seeing first-hand how different foods affect you. Once you gain a better understanding of the relationship between different foods and your blood sugar, you can start making changes in your diet that will help you gain more control over your glucose levels.
How to eat. Nutrition is a confusing topic for many people – throw diabetes into the mix, and things get even more overwhelming. What constitutes a healthy diet? Do you need to give up certain foods? How many carbohydrates should you eat daily, really?
The answers to these and other questions about food aren’t always black and white. In many cases, different diets work best for different people. It may take some experimentation before you begin to determine what foods and combination of foods keep you feeling your best. The resources here will provide you with healthier alternatives for some of the foods you love, and creative ways to get whole, healthy foods into your diet.
How to be more active. The very thought of exercise is intimidating to many people. But you don’t need to join a fancy gym to start getting in shape. Incorporating more movement into your daily routine – even moderate activity such as a daily walk – can have a tremendous impact on your health.
In fact, regular, moderate activity is a way of life in different regions of the world where people regularly live past the age of 100 and experience low rates of chronic disease. Go for a walk after dinner, park your car further away from the store, and take the stairs instead of the elevator. As you find other ways of adding more activity into your day, you’ll start to feel better and gain more
Living with diabetes
To prevent information overload in the first couple of months, take some deep breaths whenever you feel overwhelmed. Carry a small notebook with you to and from doctor appointments or any time you talk to a healthcare professional on the phone. Jot down notes and any questions you have for the doctor. This notebook will become your reference manual in the beginning stages of your diabetes education.
Understand that learning how to live with the disease will take some time. In the beginning you must learn about the glycemic properties (sugar levels) of foods and what foods should and should not be combined in one meal. You will learn how diabetes affects every body system and what signs to look for that need to be reported to your doctor.
You will learn about blood sugar levels and what happens to your body when your sugar is too low and too high. Over time you will know when your blood sugar is too low or too high by the way your body feels and the signals it is giving you. Learn more about blood glucose control.
If you must take medication to manage your diabetes, know that there may be a period of adjustment, and your doctor may have to change your medication a few times before you have the right fit. Having diabetes does not automatically mean you will have to take insulin shots, and these days, many of the delivery systems used for insulin are by insulin pen, which is almost needleless. Learn more about diabetes medications.
Over time, you will also learn what other diseases diabetes puts you at risk for developing. However, with proper diet, exercise, and good blood sugar control, you can reduce your risk for developing many of those complications. Learn more about possible complications of diabetes.
Controlling your diabetes takes planning. Your doctor and his staff can provide you with the materials and education you will need in order to modify your current lifestyle and still enjoy a long life full of your favorite activities. There is nothing that you couldn't do before your diagnosis of diabetes that you can't do now – except now you may have to pass up that extra piece of cake.