There was a time when it was considered not unusual to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at fifty. The poor lifestyle choices, processed diet and nearly thirty years of work-life stress were expected to impact us by that age. These days, people are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at forty and with every passing year, the bar is lowered further, with the millennials now being diagnosed in their thirties and even their twenties! While a Diabetes Type 2 diagnosis can be overwhelming, it’s important to know that you aren’t alone. Try to think of this diagnosis as the first step towards learning how to control your blood sugar levels and take charge of your life. Our guidelines for newly diagnosed diabetics will help you navigate your way through all the lifestyle and diet changes you need to make, gain a better understanding of your disease, educate yourself on how to manage it, and how to find the right support you need.
A new diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is sure to take you on an emotional roller coaster ride. It is completely natural to feel low after your diagnosis. Emotions run amok as you face the reality of future complications like heart disease, kidney failure and vision related problems, all while you grieve for lost health.
Diabetes can be a tough condition to accept, so feelings of anger, shock, resentment, betrayal, shame and denial are completely normal. Studies show that it is not uncommon for newly diagnosed diabetics to go through a period of depression. But you can learn to deal with the emotions that come up with a diabetes diagnosis.
We are not going to lie to you; you will need to commit to making changes so you can live a better life with diabetes, and that requires work. Since your body is no longer able to respond effectively to insulin and may not be fully capable of preventing blood glucose levels to rise dangerously high, you will need to make positive changes to your lifestyle. But know that you are not alone on this journey. You can find the right support system if you join a Diabetes Forum where you can talk about your feelings and share experiences. Your doctor or healthcare provider can also help educate you so you understand that Diabetes Type 2 can be well controlled.
The best way to manage diabetes is to educate yourself. Arm yourself with all necessary knowledge, so you can begin making positive changes in life. Understand what causes type 2 diabetes. Learn more about the benefits of good diabetes care by speaking with a medical expert or enroll in a diabetes education program. If you are worried about your chances of developing diabetes-related complications, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss the matter and find out what you can do to improve your prognosis. Read diabetes journals and magazines to stay informed about how to avoid or slow down complications.
This is the time to invest in a good quality glucose meter for at-home use so that you can start self-testing your blood glucose levels. Again research shows this is an effective way to keep a close watch on your numbers. Self-testing provides real-time data on blood sugar levels that will help you better understand the impact of the lifestyle changes and medication. For Type 2 Diabetes, we recommend testing twice a day, or more often, if your health care provider feels it is necessary. Target results should be:
Create a monthly progress chart so you can identify what changes work for you when your blood sugar levels become stable on unchanging therapy.
If your doctor has put you on diabetes medication or an insulin therapy, it is important to also educate yourself on hypoglycemia, which is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention.
The treatment plan for Diabetes Type 2 will vary based on your particular test results on how resistant your body is to insulin. Your doctor may recommend making lifestyle changes to improve your diet and get regular exercise, or you may be prescribed oral medication or insulin injections to control your blood sugar levels. The kind of treatment you receive will depend primarily on how early your condition is diagnosed. Here, the sooner we catch Diabetes Type 2, the better your chances of getting sugar levels in control before future complications arise.
Your doctor may start you off on one drug treatment and then adopt a different regimen a few months later, based on how well your blood sugar level responds to various therapies available. However, it is also important to know possible side effects of medication commonly prescribed for Diabetes Type 2.
Metformin is generally used as the first-line treatment for type 2 diabetes. A generic drug that has been in use for a very long time, it is less likely to cause hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, but all metformin side effects should be something you read up on. If metformin alone doesn’t help bring your blood sugar level within the ‘safe range’ or the condition is detected at an advanced stage, your doctor may prescribe other diabetes drugs.
It’s also a good idea to explore dietary supplements for diabetes – either as a supplement to your main treatment or if you have a personal preference to work with a naturopathic or integrative medicine doctor, even as an alternative treatment. These treatments are gentler on your body, and you may often be able to avoid side effects and also promote a sense of overall well-being.
Your diet is the key to stabilizing blood sugar levels. Almost every treatment plan for diabetes type 2 stresses upon the importance of dietary changes. This is especially true if you’re overweight and need to lose extra weight to help your body respond better to insulin, which will lower blood glucose levels.
For anyone newly diagnosed, here’s a summary of the easiest diet recommendation for diabetics:
Most diabetics are also advised to include simple physical activity into their everyday routine. Not only will exercise help lose unwanted weight, research shows that it also has a positive effect on blood sugar levels. The best diabetic exercise plan is one which is easy to accommodate into your daily routine. However, it is important to discuss any new exercise routine with your doctor or healthcare provider before you begin to make sure it is a safe choice for you.
We can’t list it all, so you need to follow the LCHF (low carbohydrate, high fat) principle in general. You should be aware of the diabetes diet myths that have grown over time due to misinformation. But here’s a sample list of food items that diabetics can eat:
Many newly diagnosed diabetes type 2 patients wonder, “Will I have to live with this disease for the rest of my life?” Here’s great news for you – diabetes type 2 is reversible, if caught in time, say many leading M.D.s today.
While some of us are genetically predisposed to the disease, for many others it’s our heavily processed-and-sugar-laden diet coupled with a sedentary lifestyle that is to blame. When you eat a grain-and-sugar-rich diet that leads to unhealthy weight gain, the sugar-processing systems of the body gives up over time, resulting in high insulin resistance and high blood glucose.
If you were aware of the early symptoms of diabetes type 2 and were able to catch it before it developed into a full blown disease, it is very much possible to completely reverse the condition with improved diet and lifestyle choices. And trust us when we say this, it is easier than it sounds! By cutting out all sugar in your diet, eating healthy foods that don’t cause your blood sugar to spike, exercising regularly to keep weight in check and practicing intermittent fasting to burn off excess accumulated fat, you too can reverse diabetes.
The role of stress in causing diabetes and worsening diabetes is often underestimated. Stress affects the entire hormonal system of the body, including the key hormone in diabetes, insulin. If you learn to handle stress better, it can be a huge plus in your efforts to reduce your blood sugar levels. Sleep, that free medicine that nature doles out every night, is another big ally in your battle with diabetes, so make sure you’re sleeping well.
There will be a number of health checks to help you manage your diabetes. Your doctor will schedule HbA1c test at regular intervals, which will allow him/her to review sugar levels and change treatment plan, if necessary. Until your HbA1c levels become stable on unchanging therapy, the test will be repeated every 3 to 6 months. It’s also important to test regularly, like annual screening for foot problems, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and eye exams. Also, the American Diabetes Association recommends screening for kidney disease and cardiovascular disease every year.
1) Psychosocial problems and barriers to improved diabetes management: results of the Cross-National Diabetes Attitudes, Wishes and Needs (DAWN) Study – http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1464-5491.2005.01644.x/full
2) Type 2 diabetes mellitus as a risk factor for the onset of depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis – http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-010-1874-x
3) Structured Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose Significantly Reduces A1C Levels in Poorly Controlled, Noninsulin-Treated Type 2 Diabetes – http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/34/2/262.short
4) Effects of Exercise on Glycemic Control and Body Mass in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus – http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/194184
5) Weight Loss in Severely Obese Subjects Prevents the Progression of Impaired Glucose Tolerance to Type II Diabetes: A longitudinal interventional study – http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/17/5/372.short