You are diligent about your annual physicals, and this time, your doctor tells you that your lab work reveals you have Type 2 Diabetes. “How can that be?” you ask? Well, there are any number of causes for the development of this condition— obesity, diet, gum disease (remember, we have reminded you for years about how cleaning your tongue with your TUNG Brush and Gel as part of your daily oral hygiene routine was critical to your overall health!), certain medications and other conditions can all contribute to the diagnosis.

OK, I have Diabetes – now what?

First and foremost – don’t go on a guilt trip. Becoming diabetic is not a failure – it is a sign that you have to change some habits and, perhaps, take some medication. Of course, like any other condition, the earlier it is detected the better. Untreated, it is a progressive disease and it can lead to problems with your eyes, heart, kidneys, nervous system or blood vessels. So don’t beat yourself up, but don’t ignore it!

The doctor gave me medicine – is that all I need?

NO! Changing your food choices and increasing your exercise routine will have major impact on the management of your glucose levels. Undoubtedly your doctor will discuss these with you, but here are a few quick pointers:

Food matters!

What you eat will make a huge difference in the management of your diabetes. For example:

  1. Mind your sugar intake! Watch your sugary drinks, fruit juices, and carbohydrates, which break down into sugars.
  2. Watch your portions – try filling half of your plate with salad or veggies instead of extra potatoes.
  3. When you go to a restaurant, try to avoid that (sorry, yes it is yummy) bread basket. Maybe your server can bring you some crudites instead?
  4. Try to eat foods that are natural and not processed. Look at labels – the fewer ingredients the better.
  5. Increase fiber – try using almond or coconut flour in recipes, for example. They are more natural than most all purpose flours and contain more fiber to help your overall digestion.

Keep on moving!

Daily exercise is important to your overall health, of course. But it can also lower your blood glucose levels (and help you drop a few pounds, just in case your weight was a contributing factor to your diagnosis). You don’t have to join a gym, though – try these ideas on for size:

  1. Walk, don’t run. Take a half hour walk with a friend. Maybe at lunch time, maybe after a long day at the office. But a nice, steady paced stroll will do wonders for your body AND your mind! Or, you might take the stairs instead of the elevator or park farther away from the entrance to the grocery store. ANY increased activity will help!
  2. Treat yourself to one of the many activity trackers. You would be amazed, for example, how many steps you actually take every day, and you can monitor (and see improvements) in your heart rate over time, too.
  3. Check out the multitude of fitness apps and/or videos that can help you work out. Try one that features dancing if you want to add music and fun to your routine.

Whatever you do to improve your lifestyle, your diet and your fitness regime, will help. Of course, be sure to discuss everything with your doctor before you make any changes. Your doctor may also ask you to get a glucose tester to track your blood sugar patterns at home and report back regularly to make any adaptations to your diet or medication.

But please, don’t panic when you are diagnosed. Work with your doctor, your family, friends and co-workers to make the right choices for your own situation. And, by the way, there are many online and local support groups to keep you going and to show you that you are not alone and that you can make a difference in your own health by taking control and making the right choices.