Living with Type 2 diabetes

Eating well and staying active is especially important for diabetics.

Living with diabetes seems to be a balancing act. The good thing is you can live a healthy, quality life by being aware of what you need to do!

When you eat, your food is broken down into sugar which is glucose. Your body needs insulin to use the energy from the glucose. When you have diabetes your body doesn’t make (or doesn’t make enough) insulin, as a result, your body’s cells can’t use the glucose. This can cause problems if you do not have it under control.

So what does eating healthy mean when you have diabetes? Eat a variety of foods including vegetables, whole grains, fruits, healthy fats and lean meats or meat substitutes. When you eat/drink dairy it should be fat-free. You should never skip a meal and try spacing your meals evenly throughout the day. If you eat five small meals a day, try eating them at the same time each day and with the same amount of time from the last meal. Consistency is very important when you are a diabetic and you will feel better if you are consistent too!

Take a class from your local Michigan State University Extension office or AAA on Diabetes PATH, Dining with Diabetes or Matter of Balance. These classes will help you use the Plate Method of eating and guide you through managing your health so mentally and physically you feel good.

Being active is another part of being healthy for all people. Activity lowers your blood glucose and helps manage diabetes. Some of the other benefits are:

  • Relieves stress
  • Feeling better
  • Having more energy
  • Lowers your risk of heart disease and strokes

One does not have to sweat to benefit from exercise. Walking briskly is very healthy for you as well as stretching or lifting light weights. The recommended amount of exercise per week is 150 minutes but start slowly. Build up your endurance by walking or exercising for 10 minutes a day and slowly add more minutes. Always be careful of your surroundings so you don’t hurt yourself. If you feel uncomfortable call 911. It is fun and safe to walk with a friend. The time goes faster and being social makes everyone feel better.

Always ask your doctor questions to clarify what you don’t understand. In the PATH classes, you will learn how to communicate with your physician. The physician may have you check your blood glucose at home. Some of your questions may be:

  • Which meter should I use?
  • Is it covered by insurance?
  • Why is it important for me to do this?
  • At what time of day do I check my glucose?

Remember, to share with your doctor all your concerns. Make a list of questions before you see the physician and then you will leave the office feeling more confident. Take your medicine and don’t stop taking it until you have a discussion with the physician. If you eat well and stay active the medicine will generally work better.

If you feel overwhelmed with your new diagnosis join a support group at your local hospital. The Diabetic Educators and Registered Dieticians can suggest ways for you to cope with your feelings.

Besides your physician’s office and the local hospital you can reach out and contact many other organizations:

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