So You Have Diabetes, Now What? — 10 Steps to Take

Whether you are affected by diabetes directly or indirectly (spouse, child, mother, father…etc), you are likely to feel overwhelmed. You have just signed a contract for a full time job – and one that you didn’t want!

Type 2 diabetes does not mean a death sentence or that you are going to get your leg chopped off, necessarily, but it is a disease that needs immediate attention and close monitoring.

Most of us don’t know that when you are first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 40-50% of your beta cell function is already lost.

Education Note:

Pancreas –


Our organ the secretes insulin

Insulin –

A hormone secreted from beta cells on the pancreas that are responsible for lowering our blood sugar

Beta Cells –

Cells that cover the pancreas and are responsible for releasing insulin.

This means that your pancreas is only HALF as efficient as it was when you were younger, or prior to diagnosis. Type 2 diabetes is not something that happened overnight. It’s a progressive disease that needs to be managed NOW!

If you were recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or you are taking care of someone who has type 2 diabetes – follow these 10 steps to better manage the disease.

Note: these steps are not in any particular order.

 

Step #1

Eliminate sweetened beverages.

This means soda, sweet tea, Gatorade or other Image result for soda
‘sports-drinks’, energy drinks, juice, sweetened kombucha or any other beverages that contain an excess amount of sugar. We get enough sugar and carbs from our food so we shouldn’t be drinking our calories also. Drink more water, unsweetened tea with lemon or other non-caloric beverages.

 

Step #2

Remove all concentrated sweets and desserts from your kitchen.

Notice I didn’t say “from your life.” You don’t need to give up desserts completely, but definitely remove them from your house. When there is temptation in your kitchen – ‘it’ will talk to you.

If you are celebrating something stick to my two-bite rule. Take two, normal-sized, bites and push it aside. Share with someone or multiple people so you’re not tempted to eat the whole dessert.

 

Step #3

Lose weight.

This is a tough pill to swallow for most of us. Easier said than done, right? A little weight loss goes a long way when it comes to better controlling your blood sugar. As little as 7-10% weight loss from your total weight will make a difference (ex: if you weigh 200 lbs it’s recommended to lose 14-20 lbs).

 

Step #4

Exercise! Exercise! Exercise!

This will also help with #3. Your muscles want to use that extra blood sugar for energy. When you exercise, your muscles actually pull the sugar out of your blood stream and burn it up (becoming more insulin sensitive). It’s basically FREE medicine. Get moving!

You don’t have to start going to the gym and you don’t need expensive gym equipment to get a good workout in. Start with 10-15 minutes of walking once daily and work up to the recommended goal of 60+ minutes per day 5-6 days per week. You can break the 60 minutes up into 10-20 minute increments or however it fits into your day.

 

Step #5

Eat More Fiber. 

This includes whole grains, beans and legumes. Fiber is not digested in our intestines so it slows down the absorption from the sugar that is coming from carbs. Soluble fiber, more specifically, helps to lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase your good cholesterol (HDL). You’ll mostly find soluble fiber from eating the edible peels of fruits and vegetables and also from whole grains and legumes.

 

Step #6

Get on a meal plan.

It’s important to manage how many carbs you are eating with each meal and snack. As well as paying attention to having healthy fats in your diet. The goal is to have consistent carbs throughout the day for better blood sugar control.

Read –> HERE <– for ideas on meal planning and a FREE 3 day diabetes diet menu. You can also comment below with any questions you have about meal planning.

 

Step #7

Schedule regular screenings or doctor appointments.

You want to make sure you have a good relationship with your doctor. If you don’t like your doctor – get a new one! I’m serious! It’s important to have someone on your side and advocating for your health and safety. Make sure to get your blood tests every 3 months until your doctor feels like your blood sugar is under good control (then they usually stretch it out to every 6 months). Don’t forget to have your Cholesterol, triglycerides, liver health and kidney health labs done as well. Talk to your doctor about these.

 

Step #8

Stay positive!

I can’t stress this one enough. Sure, diabetes is scary. But so are spiders. And death! I know none of these are related, but sometimes fear is what motivates us. Don’t let fear make you crawl into a corner and sulk. Diabetes won’t go away, unfortunately, so you need to manage it ASAP.

Diabetes is not who you are. It’s apart of what makes you – YOU. Take control of it and put a smile on your face. Ever try saying “beep, boop, beep, boop” without smiling? I bet you can’t do it…

 

Step #9

Eat more plants! Mainly vegetables. 

“Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.” ~Michael Pollen

Non-starchy vegetables are unlimited in my book. Try a variety of vegetables and different colors so you are (metaphorically) eating the rainbow and getting a variety of nutrients. Also, try different cooking methods to bring out different flavors (roast, bake, broil, grill, saute, steam).

Aim for 2 fist-sized portions of non-starchy vegetables with lunch and dinner. Starchy vegetables include potatoes, yams, corn and peas and these foods are considered higher in carbs so the portions need to be minimized.

 

Step #10

Connect with others!

You are NOT alone. Close to 30 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes and is said that 1 in 3 American’s will have diabetes by the year 2050. Getting support doesn’t mean that you need to go to a psych-ward. You’re simply getting support. Talk to a friend. Talk to your doctor. Talk to me. I’m here if you have any nutrition-related questions and I would be happy to share some other online resources with you.

 

Send me an email if you want to talk more OR leave a comment below.

Author: Katie

Hi! I'm Katie, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. This website it dedicated to those looking to heal their bodies from the inside out - and it all starts with balancing out your blood sugar. Let's heal disease together one plate at a time.

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