What to Know When You’re Diagnosed with Diabetes

Jake Newby

| 3 min read

A woman administers insulin to her hip.
There are 1.4 million new cases of diabetes in the United States each year, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 2.8% of the 18-and-over population – roughly seven million Americans – have undiagnosed diabetes.
If you suspect you have symptoms of type 1 or type 2 diabetes, the first step is scheduling an appointment with your health care provider to have your blood sugar tested. It can be disheartening to learn that you have diabetes, an uncurable disease, but there are measures you can take to control it properly.

Diet and exercise tips

Prepare healthier versions of your favorite meals: Living with diabetes doesn’t mean saying goodbye to your favorite meals – you may just need to prepare healthier versions of them.
An example of a good diabetes-friendly meal with one made up of lean protein like fish or chicken, a non-starchy vegetable like broccoli and a side with carbohydrates, like a baked potato. Experiment to find out what works best for you by taking a walk after a meal and keeping track of your blood sugar results.
Cut back on sugary drinks: Lean on water with a twist of lemon or other zero-calorie drinks. If you drink three cans of soda per day, you can start slow by swapping out one soda – and eventually two – with glasses of water.
Pay attention to portion sizes: Portion control is a great way to lose weight and keep blood sugar levels stabilized. Try using a smaller, 9-inch dinner plate. Snack-sized packages containing 100 calories or less is another good way to manage portions.
Move around: If you’re not much of an exercise buff, don’t let that stop you from doing something. Regular physical activity is an important part of managing diabetes or dealing with prediabetes. When you’re active, your cells become more sensitive to insulin, so it works more effectively to lower your blood sugar. Consult with your doctor about weekly exercise goals and start slowly. Light walking can be a great start. The ADA has more tips about exercising safely with diabetes.

Work with your diabetes care team and medication management

Between a primary care doctor, endocrinologist, foot doctor, eye doctor, dentist, pharmacist, nurse, dietitian, and diabetes educator, individuals who are diagnosed with diabetes have no shortage of resources to help them control their diabetes.
These experts are there to help get you on the fast track to a long, healthy life. Ask your primary care doctor for referrals to these specialists to begin building your team.
For people with type 2 diabetes in particular, other forms of medicine besides insulin can help keep your blood sugar in your target range. Some people take both pills and insulin or insulin by itself. In some cases, oral medications like diabetes pills can be used to manage type 2 diabetes, but they don’t work for everyone.
Start by considering your options and discuss with your doctor or clinical provider. Following up with your provider is integral in helping to avoid risk of complications like cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease. It is important to be screened and to monitor blood pressure.
Whether you are newly diagnosed with diabetes or have an existing diagnosis, the ADA provides comprehensive insulin information on its website, including the basics for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, as well as the types, characteristics, and strength of insulin.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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