When we eat carbohydrates, we digest them into sugar for our bodies to use as energy. A hormone called insulin is naturally released to help direct the sugar to organs that will store or use them. However, with type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t produce enough insulin to facilitate this process. That means the sugar stays in your bloodstream. When there’s a lot of sugar in your blood, this is known as hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, and it can lead to serious complications, including damage to your feet, kidneys, and eyes, as well as an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Lifestyle changes like diet and exercise, along with non-insulin oral and injectable medications can help your body produce more insulin and respond better to it. But eventually, most people with type 2 diabetes need to take insulin to help their blood sugar levels remain stable and avoid those severe consequences. You might start out with a long-acting background insulin once a day. Examples of long-acting insulin include insulin glargine (Lantus, Toujeo), insulin detemir (Levemir), and insulin degludec (Tresiba). But for many people, these aren’t enough—they need to inject insulin before every meal to cover the carbohydrates they eat during that meal. Examples of rapid-acting mealtime insulin include insulin aspart (NovoLog), insulin lispro (Humalog), and insulin glulisine (Apidra). Taking mealtime insulin can be quite a lifestyle change, but it’s crucial to stick with it to keep your diabetes under control and avoid problems in the future. Anticipate Challenges of Mealtime Insulin to Overcome Them Many diabetics find it difficult to adhere to insulin treatment. The reasons are largely psychological, so if you’re struggling emotionally, you’re not alone. Gain some insight into what’s going on in your head and learn how to get help working through it, because committing to mealtime insulin can be the key to effectively managing your diabetes and avoiding serious complications. According to one recent study, mental barriers to embracing insulin treatment include: Viewing insulin as a personal failure in diabetes self-management Having bad experiences where “going on insulin” was used as a threat for not following treatment instructions Fear of needles Lack of confidence in having the skills to see treatment through While starting mealtime insulin can be intimidating, it’s important to understand these mental barriers can be broken down. First of all, insulin doesn’t mean you’ve failed. The majority of people with type 2 diabetes will eventually need insulin, even if they’ve followed their diabetes treatment plans carefully. A common myth is that taking insulin means your diabetes is worse than if you’re not taking insulin. This is also untrue. The goal of all diabetes treatment is to control your blood sugar. That’s it. Health problems and complications occur when your blood glucose levels get out of control, regardless of the methods used to help keep your levels stable. People also tend to believe that once they start insulin, they can never stop. This is a common misconception. If mealtime insulin helps you achieve good control of your blood glucose levels, you may be able to go back to background insulin or even self-management with lifestyle changes. A fear of needles is often based on an old reality. Today’s needles are extremely short and thin. The American Diabetes Associates compares the needle size to three hairs. Ask your doctor to see a needle and even do a trial run together. Your mealtime insulin may also come in the form of a pen, which is easier to use and carry than standard needles. Taking mealtime insulin does involve more blood sugar monitoring, more carbohydrate counting, and more planning to keep a consistent mealtime schedule than taking background insulin. It can mean changing your lifestyle significantly in terms of when you eat, how much you eat, how often you eat out, and how much alcohol you drink. Often, people don’t have the confidence in their ability to make these changes. But with the right tools, taking mealtime insulin becomes part of your routine. And following this routine is the key to preventing serious problems down the road. Calculating your mealtime insulin dose before you eat is easy when you realize you’re preventing potential foot amputation or kidney dialysis. The consequences of uncontrolled blood sugar levels are real, but by committing to mealtime insulin, they don’t have to be your reality. Find Tools to Stick With Mealtime Insulin—Your Health Depends on It Talking about it helps. Tell your doctor about your specific concerns. There’s likely a good way to calm them. For example, if your favorite thing is fine dining, you can still do that. You may just need to eat smaller portions. If happy hour is your favorite time of day, you don’t necessarily need to avoid alcohol. You may just need to add a snack or cut back on sugary mixers. Many of the lifestyle habits that are bad for those with diabetes such as overeating and binge drinking are bad for everyone. No one really gets to do whatever they want and stay healthy. Your diabetes gives you a really good reason to take better care of yourself. If you’re concerned about paying for your mealtime insulin or remembering to take it, talk to your doctor and pharmacist about these concerns as well. They will likely have some tips and strategies to help you keep this commitment. Use your smartphone to set reminders for taking your mealtime insulin and picking up prescription renewals. Use phone apps to help you calculate your dosage based on how many carbohydrates you’re eating. Lean on friends and family for support and encouragement. Try to remember mealtime insulin for diabetes is something important you’re doing for yourself to feel better beyond the meal. Your goal is blood glucose control for a healthier, happier life, and the lifestyle changes involved will get much easier over time. Commit to your treatment, renew your prescriptions, and ask your doctor, friends, family, and community resources for support. And keep in mind, a particular insulin treatment doesn’t have to be forever. Even if it is, you deserve the best chance at good control of your diabetes.