It’s shocking to receive the diagnosis of any serious disease, diabetes included. You may have risk factors for the condition or the diagnosis may seem to come out of the blue for you. If you’re diagnosed with diabetes, you can work through the shock by learning about the disease and knowing how to treat it.
Don’t Panic, Educate Yourself
For people not familiar with the disease, diabetes brings to mind high blood sugar. While it’s true that diabetes affects your blood sugar, there are different causes of type 1 vs. type 2.
Type 1 Diabetes
When your pancreas doesn’t produce insulin, the condition is called type 1 diabetes. Patients of the type 1 group must monitor their blood sugar during the day and inject insulin as required. With modifications in diet and exercise, effectively managing blood sugar, and giving yourself insulin injections as needed, you can lead a healthy active life.
Type 2 Diabetes
Insulin is key to the cause of type 2 diabetes when your body processes it ineffectively or doesn’t produce enough of it. Also, your glucose can’t be used up as bodily energy. As with type 1, diet, exercise, and, sometimes, diabetes medication and/or insulin pills are prescribed to treat the problem so that you can carry on with your life normally.
Getting Started with Healthy Habits
Practicing recommended behaviors for diabetes management and forming them into habits will provide your best chance to live well despite the disease.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions to manage the disease. Keep your endocrinologist and physician appointments faithfully. Follow the blood glucose testing and recording schedule given and take medication by pill or injection as directed.
- Eat a healthy diet containing all the food groups, eaten in moderation. Avoid sugars, simple carbohydrates, and overeating. Try nutrient-dense foods and get enough variety to meet your vitamin and mineral requirements. The American Diabetes Association offers healthy eating advice on its website and suggests the Diabetes Plate Method guide food intake. The method includes half of the plate filled with non-starchy vegetables, one-quarter containing protein foods, and the last quarter containing carbohydrates.
- Get regular exercise including aerobic, strength, and flexibility activities. Add movement to your day where it fits in naturally, such as parking your car at the end of the lot and walking to the door or getting out of your chair every hour and stretching or marching in place.
- Monitor your overall health and regularly inspect the areas of your body that can be impacted by diabetes. This list includes your feet, skin, and eyes. Notify your doctor about any changes or concerns.
- Get additional support as needed. Some diabetics like to work with a registered dietician to develop an eating plan that works for them. Others have difficulty accepting the disease and dealing with the stresses created by it; counseling professionals can help. Whatever the case is for you, reach out and seek help because you don’t have to do it alone.
Journal your food, exercise, medication, and blood glucose numbers daily to see what works best for you and your doctor. While you’re at it, write about your day to work through emotions related to diabetes.
Need More Support?
Many people find comfort and assistance when they join a group of people dealing with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The ADA has an online community you can join. Supporters, such as family members, can join, too, as well as pre-diabetics. You may find a group in your community as well. Your physician’s office should be able to point you in the right direction.
Whether you seek support or go it on your own, take diabetes seriously. If you eat poorly, don’t exercise, or don’t take your medicine, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can cause serious health conditions. Live a healthy, happy life by maintaining a positive attitude and keeping up with your healthy habits.