8 Steps to Kick-Start Your Diabetes Treatment Plan

By

Denise Mann, MS

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Whether you have just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or decided the time has come to take your condition more seriously, kick-starting an effective treatment program should not be overwhelming.

Start slowly and surely with these eight expert-approved steps. Taken together, they will pave the way toward a healthier you. Each step can be adapted to where you are now with your diabetes management from newly diagnosed to stepping it up in the face of heath changes.

It’s crucial that type 2 diabetics stay active and eat nutritious whole foods. In part two of this three-part series, the Health Squad finds a furry friend to get Charlene moving, and gives her kitchen a makeover.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Aug 13, 2015

Step 1. Get schooled.

Think you know all there is to know about diabetes? Local or online diabetes education classes can be eye opening. (Many are even free.) In addition to advice on healthy eating and blood sugar monitoring, instructors can also provide tips on how to manage your condition in all sorts of situations as well as tell you what red flags to be on the lookout for. Find a class that is convenient for you and sign up today.

Step 2. Recruit your Diabetes Dream Team.

It takes a village to achieve and maintain tight control of your diabetes. You are the most important member of this team, but others may include your primary care doctor, an endocrinologist, a nutritionist, a certified diabetes educator or nurse, an eye doctor to make sure diabetes does not rob you of your vision. Some may also need a podiatrist to treat diabetes-related nerve damage in the lower extremities. Even if you don't see all of these individuals regularly, make sure you have recent contact information on-hand just in case.

Step 3: Know your numbers.

Not everyone with diabetes has to check his or her blood sugar levels routinely, but some people do and some will have to do so in the future. Knowing what your blood sugar (glucose) level should be is a great way to see where you are relative to where you need to be.

The American Diabetes Association suggests the following targets for most nonpregnant adults with diabetes:

  • Before a meal blood sugar: 70–130 mg/dl

  • 1-2 hours after beginning of the meal: Less than 180 mg/dl

Talk to your doctor about your individual goals as they may vary from person to person.

Step 4: Slim down.

How much do you weigh? Find out and see if you need to slim down. Losing weight - if you are overweight or obese - can improve blood sugar and overall health. The good news is losing 10 to 15 pounds can make a big difference.  Slow and steady wins the race. Talk to your nutritionist about the best ways for you to lose weight and maintain the loss for the long term.  Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke (and so is diabetes).

Step 5: Decorate your plate.

It can be overwhelming to consider changing your entire diet in the face of a diabetes diagnosis. Where do you start? Will you have to do math before sitting down to lunch? Take a deep breath and focus on filling half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables (Think spinach, carrots, lettuce, greens, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber and mushrooms.) Fill one quarter with smaller portions of starchy foods or whole grains such as breads, oatmeal, rice, pasta or cooked beans. The final quarter is for your protein – whether tofu, fish, chicken or meat. It's that simple. Phase 2 involves making smarter choices from each food group. Next thing you know, you have mastered eating right with diabetes. This way of eating will also help with weight loss. It's a win-win.

Step 6: Move it.

Exercise doesn't have to be super-intense to lower blood sugar levels and improve heart health. That said, it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting or changing your exercise regimen. Consider buying a FitBit, Jawbone or another type of wearable activity monitor to help you count how many steps you take in a day and track your progress.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Dec 20, 2016

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