Getting diagnosed with diabetes can be a shattering experience, but it’s not something you have to handle alone.
Other people have been where you are now, and they’ve gotten through it. It’s just a matter of finding the right resources. If you’re wondering how to live with diabetes, it starts by following these steps.
1. Study your health plan
Make sure your health insurance plan covers all your diabetes-related supplies and medications. See if your plan covers access to diabetes-related professionals such as dieticians, nutritionists or certified diabetes educators.
2. Put together a team
The people we mentioned in the last section – dietician, diabetes educator – will help anyone wondering how to live with diabetes. Start with regular doctor visits, where you’ll learn how to reach your ideal blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Your doctor can refer you to other healthcare providers. A dietician can set you up with a meal plan, while diabetes educators can advise you on how to check your blood sugar at home. This kind of education can help you improve your blood sugar levels soon after your diagnosis.
3. Begin taking medication
A generic drug called metformin is usually the first treatment for people with type 2 diabetes. While making healthy lifestyle changes is important, this drug can ensure that your blood glucose levels drop to where they’re supposed to be.
Your doctor may prescribe something else if your blood sugar levels don’t lower. If you’re older than 40, you should also talk to your doctor about cholesterol medication, as heart disease is a chief killer of people with diabetes.
4. Make a meal plan…and stick to it
Proper diabetic health means making changes to your diet. You’ll need to cut back on fats and carbohydrates, as carbs raise your blood sugar and fats increase your cholesterol.
This doesn’t mean giving up all the foods you enjoy. It may just be a matter of lowering portion sizes, eliminating trans and saturated fats and substituting soda for unsweetened beverages. You may want to keep a food diary to see which foods cause the biggest impact on your blood sugar.
5. Get regular exercise
Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise five days each week can help people with diabetes lose weight and improve their blood sugar.
This doesn’t have to be an intense workout, just moderate exercise like swimming or walking. You can also try to add exercise into your regular routine. Hang laundry on a clothesline instead of a dryer or take the stairs instead of the elevator.
6. Conduct regular screenings
This goes beyond just checking your blood sugar. Diabetes impacts other parts of the body, like the feet and the eyes, so be sure to make regular visits to the podiatrist and optometrist. And the American Diabetes Association suggests getting an annual kidney disease screening as well.
7. Stay positive
We get it: Being diagnosed with an illness like diabetes can be scary. But as we said at the outset, you’re not alone. Look to family and friends for help and see if there’s a support group in your community for people with diabetes.