A Quick Start Guide for Type 2 Diabetes
Christine McKinney, RD, CDE
If you or a family member has just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes it can feel very overwhelming. It’s hard to know where to even start. There is a lot to learn about diabetes. Try this checklist as a guide to get a head start in managing your diabetes.
Learn about type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is managed by you.This is where knowledge becomes power. The more you know, the better you can manage your diabetes. Start by visiting the American Diabetes Association website and check out all of the great information they have to offer. Ask your healthcare provider for a referral to a certified diabetes educator for some hands-on training. Diabetes is managed with three things: diet, exercise and medications. Learn about these three components of diabetes management, implement positive changes and help yourself prevent complications from diabetes.
Know your meal plan.
I often hear my clients say, “I was told to not eat anything white and avoid fruit”. That won’t make the best meal plan. It is true that carbohydrates raise glucose (blood sugar) but there is a lot more to your meal plan than that. Just to be to clear, you don’t need to avoid carbs. Carbohydrates are fuel for your body and a diet without carbs leaves out some healthy foods like fruit, whole grains , starchy vegetables , and yogurt. Make an appointment with a registered dietitian to get a meal plan that is tailored for you. In the meantime, a good place to start is to clean up your diet. Avoid added sugars, sweets, and sweetened beverages. To control portions use USDA’s MyPlate and try to include all the food groups at each meal instead of just meat and potatoes.
Get a glucose meter.
When you have diabetes you need to test your blood glucose. The frequency and timing of testing is up to you and your healthcare provider. To get started, contact your insurance company and ask what meter(s) they cover at the lowest copay. You can often get a free meter from your healthcare provider or local pharmacy. The test strips are the most expensive part but they are usually covered by insurance. It is a good idea to have a diabetes educator or other healthcare professional teach you how to properly use the meter.
Exercise is like a medication for diabetes-it lowers blood glucose.The extent that exercise lowers glucose will depend on the duration and intensity of the exercise. An ideal exercise regimen would be to exercise every other day and include both cardiovascular and strength training. Make exercise a priority by including it in your weekly schedule. Be sure to check with your physician before you begin an exercise regimen.
To maintain good management of diabetes, you will need some support. Seek out help from family, friends or coworkers. The American Diabetes Association offers several ways to connect with others who also have diabetes. Know that you are not alone in your quest to control diabetes and working with others can help you manage your diabetes.
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Christine has been a registered dietitian for 11 years and a certified diabetes educator for 7 of those years. She works part time and enjoys teaching diabetes classes. Christine feels passionate about diabetes education because education and motivation can make people healthy. Christine is also a mom of two and enjoys cooking with her kids and hitting the local gym for cycle class.