Getting a diabetes diagnosis can be upsetting to say the least. This is a chronic disease, that if poorly managed, can lead to a host of serious health issues from heart disease to amputations. The good news, however, is lifestyle choices play a crucial role in treatment, and with good decisions, you can still live a healthy life. You may be feeling a bit lost right now, and that is understandable; but you must move into action. Here are a few important considerations for moving forward in this new reality.
Consider Attending a Diabetes Education Program
Since self-care is such a crucial part of managing this disease, and keeping serious complications at bay, it would be a good idea to find a diabetes education center in your area so you can learn how to properly care for yourself. Look for programs that have been accredited by either the American Association of Diabetes Educators or the American Diabetes Association. Insurance often covers these programs, but it is a good idea to confirm this beforehand.
Establish an Eating Plan
A healthy diet is important no matter what health issue we are dealing with, but with diabetes, it is one of the primary means of treatment. To say what you eat matters is an understatement if there ever was one. Chances are your current diet is in need of at least some tweaking, or maybe even a complete overhaul. When you first start out, it is a good idea to keep track of your food intake, and measure glucose levels to see the effects. You should meet with a registered dietitian experienced in working with diabetics to devise a meal plan that will keep your blood sugar under control. Based on your food preferences, daily schedule, activities and the like, she can suggest a healthy meal plan. The dietitian can also advise you how to distribute your carbohydrates throughout the day to keep blood sugar at healthy levels. With professional assistance, you can move forward with confidence—you don’t have to worry about figuring everything out yourself.
Again, physical activity is important for maintaining health overall, but for a diabetic, it is a pillar of treatment. Exercise helps regulate blood sugar; it also keeps your weight in check, which is important not only for managing the disease, but reducing the risk of developing other conditions of which you are now at increased risk because you have diabetes. You want to get at least 30 minutes of activity at least five days a week, according to the American Diabetes Association. If you haven’t exercised in awhile, it is important to ease into activity, and be patient with yourself. If you go too hard too fast, you will get discouraged and lose motivation. Don’t adopt an all-or-nothing mentality—any exercise is better than none. Set small, achievable goals—as you reach them, you will feel good, and want to keep moving. Reward yourself when you reach them.
Connecting with others who also have diabetes can make you feel better; you can also get some great tips on managing the condition and remaining positive. One of the upsides of the internet is the abundance of sites that allow people in similar circumstances to connect, share their experiences and offer support.