Despite the constant attention type 2 diabetes gets in the media, it’s still a very overwhelming, scary, and confusing diagnosis.
And coping with that diagnosis isn’t as simple as “improve your diet and lose weight.”
Here are 3 things anyone newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes needs to know.
- Diagnosis is scary, but it comes with power and opportunity!
- Don’t fear diabetes medications
- You don’t have to cut all the carbs, but be mindful
1. Diagnosis is scary, but it comes with power and opportunity!
Instead of shame or fear, use that diagnosis to feel powerful! There are so many ways a person with type 2 diabetes can manage their blood sugars.
Yes, the very first thing you can do is take a closer look at how your food and exercise habits might be contributing to higher blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, but don’t stop there.
You can also take a look at your own thoughts and mindset. This diagnosis is an opportunity to get fired up about your life and your future.
Managing your blood sugars may require big changes in your nutrition, a new gym membership, and at least one diabetes medication to help your body produce insulin more effectively, but none of that will matter if the messages inside your head are full of defeat, shame, and fear.
Let your diabetes diagnosis be your inspiration to learn new ways of eating and cooking, new ways of exercising, new ways of managing stress, new ways of spending your free time, new ways of spending time with friends.
Walking is your new best friend
- Instead of meeting at a restaurant, meet for a walk.
- Instead of drinking a few glasses of wine when you’re stressed, go for a walk!
- Instead of coming home after work and sitting down on the couch with a snack, go for a walk.
Replace the fear, shame, and anger with curiosity and enthusiasm for the future, for where you might be a year from now.
2. Don’t fear diabetes medications
The media and comments on Twitter may leave you feeling as though needing a diabetes medication like insulin, non-insulin injectables, or oral diabetes medications is a bad thing.
It’s not. In an ideal world, everyone would be able to “reverse” type 2 diabetes through changes in how you eat and exercise, but the fact is that type 2 diabetes is not that simple.
Type 2 diabetes is a “progressive” disease for 60 percent of those diagnosed.
According to a 2016 study published by the American Diabetes Association, 60 percent of those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes will experience gradual “beta-cell dysfunction.”
Your beta-cells are produced in the pancreas and they are essential to producing insulin. Without enough healthy beta-cells, you won’t produce enough insulin.
This means your high blood sugar levels are not just the result of insulin resistance, struggling with weight gain, and not getting enough exercise as mainstream media would tell you.
Many medications on the market today are designed to help your body produce more of its own insulin! Don’t fear diabetes medications. They are designed to help your body with something it’s struggling with, just as a person with hemophilia needs something to help their blood clot properly, you might need something to help your body get a proper amount of insulin.
3. You don’t have to cut all the carbs, but be mindful
We are all inundated with the pressure to follow a strict, rigid, intense diet plan. Ketogenic. High-carb vegan. Low-carb. Paleo. All organic. All vegan. The list goes on and on.
At the end of the day, there is one thing that everyone would rationally agree on: eat more real food.
And there’s another thing we all know for sure: if you’re drinking sugar-laden beverages all day, you’re going to struggle forever to manage your blood sugars.
Instead of jumping on a fad-diet bandwagon, try these two simple things:
- Eat more real, whole foods: veggies, fruit, lean meats, eggs, high-quality dairy, nuts, beans, etc.
- Cut sugar-laden beverages from your diet entirely – sodas and juices in particular.
You might easily be consuming 60 to 100 grams of sugar every day simply through beverages. Removing this alone from your diet could do wonders for your blood sugar.
Do keep in mind that if you’re used to drinking sugar every day, you’ll likely go through some withdrawals and unpleasant side-effects after removing it. Headaches. Shakes. Sugar is addictive and it will take your body a few weeks to get used to not getting so much of it.
The bottom line:
- A type 2 diagnosis is a very big deal
- It isn’t cured easily by losing a few pounds or avoiding bread
- It’s far more complicated than that. But some of the things you can do to improve your diabetes right now are actually very simple.
- Use this diagnosis as an opportunity to change what you can and get a greater understanding of what your body needs in order to thrive going forward