Are You in Diabetes Denial?
Denying you have type 2 diabetes won't make it go away. Here's how to accept your diagnosis, manage your disease, and get on with your life.
Tackling Type 2 Diabetes continued...
Watch what you eat. "When I was first diagnosed, I was eating
peanut butter cups by the handful," says White. Now, knowing the health
consequences of sugar-loading, he might have one sweet snack but certainly not
a handful, and he balances his treats with a smart diet throughout the rest of
Balance your diet. "Yes, when you're diagnosed with type 2
diabetes, you need to have a healthy and well-balanced diet," says
Rubin. Does that mean you can never have a piece of pizza again? Not
necessarily, he explains. The key is balance; if you have a piece of pizza for
lunch, balance it out with an extra healthy dinner of chicken and steamed
Step on the scale. "The keys to preventing diabetes in the first place and keeping it
under control are substantially related to controlling your weight," says
Rubin. In the Diabetes Prevention Program study, people at high risk of
developing the disease were found to have about a 50% reduction in risk if they
lost just 10 pounds.
Exercise, exercise, exercise! "Increase your physical activity as
much as you are able," says Breen. "Even small increases in activity
can increase your metabolism and help manage your diabetes." Use the
tried-and-true rules of taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking
farther out in the parking lot instead of up close, and walking to the corner
store instead of driving.
You can't overcommunicate. "You need to talk to your doctor on a
regular basis," says White. "If you don't you could be in for a rude
shock when you finally do catch up if untreated health problems have gone on
for too long."
Regularly schedule trips to the doctor. "You should have a
dilated eye exam every 6-12 months by
an ophthalmologist," says Breen. Follow that up with a regular foot exam
every three months by a medical professional to check for nerve damage, she
recommends, as well as regular screenings to monitor your average blood sugar,
cholesterol levels and kidney function. Last but not least, visit a
cardiologist as necessary.
Be the boss. "Type 2 diabetes is a disease that a person needs to
think about and problem-solve on their own on a daily basis," says Rubin.
"You make decisions that are vital to your health all day long: 'How much
should I eat, should I exercise, should I check my blood sugar?'" Still,
while you are the head of your self-care team, he also agrees you can't forget
the team of trained health care professionals who play an important role in
keeping you healthy.
Educate yourself. A diabetes educator can be an important ally to
have on your side in the battle against diabetes. "She can help you better
understand your diet, how to work exercise into your life, how to test your
blood sugar, and overall, how to manage your disease," says