You’ve Just Been Diagnosed with Type II Diabetes: Now What?
Learning that you have diabetes can be an emotional experience. It's entirely normal for your initial feelings to be shock, fear, sadness, anger, and maybe even guilt. It can feel like your world has been turned upside down as you join the estimated 34 million Americans living with Type II diabetes.1
However, getting diagnosed with diabetes doesn't mean your life is over. There are several things you can do starting today to regain a sense of normalcy and routine.
Even though there isn't yet a cure for diabetes, it is possible to manage it and live a long, healthy life. Knowing what to do after being diagnosed will help you take control of your health.
10 Things to Do if You've Been Diagnosed with Type II Diabetes
Getting diagnosed with diabetes can feel confusing and overwhelming. We have you covered with this list of 10 things you should start doing immediately after receiving a diagnosis.
Of course, before step 1, speak with your physician. These suggestions are certainly not intended to replace the directions of a physician or any health professional.
1. Speak with a Diabetes Health Coach
As always, your first step should be talking to a medical professional. An example is a Registered Nurse health coach. This is a professional who knows all about diabetes and can help you develop a customized plan for your body and lifestyle. Your diabetes health coach can help you create a healthy diet and exercise program. They can also answer all your questions and make recommendations based on your needs.
2. Choose Your Carbs Wisely
You might have heard your friends or other patients talk about quitting carbs after a diabetes diagnosis. It is true that carbohydrates can spike your blood sugar significantly faster than proteins and fats. However, not all carbs are created equal. For example, a candy bar loaded with sugar is not the same as a piece of whole fruit or a slice of whole-grain bread.
Staying completely away from carbs isn't necessarily healthy. However, you will need to watch how many carbs you put into your body, so be choosy. Your diabetes health coach can help you understand which carbs you can have as part of your diet to help you stay energized and full without spiking your blood sugar.
3. Eliminate Sugary Drinks
Sadly, sugary drinks will have to go now that you have been diagnosed with Type II diabetes. You don't necessarily have to give them all up at once, though. Instead, start by replacing one sugary drink per day with another option, such as a glass of water with fresh lemon, until you are only drinking unsweetened beverages.
While water is the healthiest option, it doesn't have to be the only thing you drink. Just make sure you have at least the recommended amount (eight 8-ounce glasses) to keep your blood circulating as it should. In addition to water, you can drink unsweetened tea, unsweetened club soda, milk, and unsweetened coffee. The prospect of giving up your favorite soda might fill you with sadness, but don't worry; your body will get used to these new flavors faster than you expect. Soon, you'll cringe at the thought of having a sugary drink.
4. Consider a Diabetic Supplies Subscription
Managing diabetes requires a lot of supplies. These can include test strips, lancets, blood sugar meters, glucose tablets, and more. Keeping a full stock of supplies can feel like a full-time job!
Give yourself a break by signing up for a subscription service. A diabetic supplies subscription takes a lot of stress off you and ensures that you always have what you need when you need it. One of our favorite services is Myabetes.
5. Practice Portion Control
Eating less food during each meal can help control your blood sugar levels. Getting smaller plates (nine inches or less across) is one easy way to portion-control your meals since these plates require less food to look full.
Portioning-controlling your meals doesn't mean skipping meals. Instead, you should continue to eat meals at regular intervals, including snacks. If you skip lunch, for example, you might end up extra-hungry at dinner. Then, you might overeat, which can wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels. Talk to your doctor or Diabetes Health Coach to learn more about how much you should eat throughout the day and what types of snacks are best.
6. Start (or Continue) Exercising
If you already have an exercise routine in place, keep it up! If you don't, now is the time to get moving. Staying active burns fat and can help you lose weight and gain strength. It also helps your body move glucose out of your blood and into your cells, where it belongs.
Walking is a great place to start. It's something people of all most abilities can do at any time, any in any place. If you're new to exercising, start with a short walk of just 5 – 10 minutes a day. Then, slowly begin adding more minutes to your walks until you exercise for at least 30 minutes each day, five days a week. You can also partake in more rigorous physical activity, such as jogging, cycling, or swimming. If those moves aren't your thing, gardening, doing household chores, cooking, and playing with your dog all count as exercise! Find something that makes you happy, so you'll be more likely to stick with it.
7. Get a Free Diabetes Monitoring App
Staying on top of your diabetes can be time-consuming and confusing. However, a diabetes monitoring app can help you track your numbers, stay on top of your exercise, and keep tabs on your food intake. Again, one of our favorites is Myabetes.com.
8. Quit Smoking
If you're still smoking, now might be a good time to quit. In addition to being bad for your overall health, smoking can make diabetes symptoms worse because it damages your blood vessels. Tell your doctor about your intent to quit smoking, since there might be some side effects. For example, one study found that people with Type II diabetes who quit smoking had a marked decrease in glycemic control, which could last as long as three years.2 Knowing this, you and your doctor can prepare to pay extra close attention to your glucose levels as your body adjusts.
9. Take Your Medication
Your doctor is likely to have prescribed some type of medication. Make sure you take it regularly. Set alarms to remind yourself. Skipping a dose for some medicines, such as insulin, can lead to a sudden drop in glucose. It's a good idea to have something with sugar, such as orange juice, on hand in case this happens.
10. Inspect Your Feet
Unfortunately, many people with diabetes have problems with their feet. The real trouble is that, due to nerve damage, you might not feel it. So, start getting into the habit of checking your feet at least once a day. You're looking for sores, blisters, cuts, and anything else that shouldn't be there. Talk to your doctor immediately if you notice anything unusual, since a small problem could become more serious quickly.
You’re Not Alone
Thanks to advancements in medicine, a diagnosis of Type II diabetes isn't the same today as it was 50 years ago. People can live a long, healthy life, provided follow their doctors’ instruction for taking care of their bodies and monitoring their blood levels. Always talk to your doctor about any specific questions or concerns that you have as you make your way on your diabetes journey.