What to do After Being Diagnosed With Type 2 Diabetes
So you have just been told by your doctor that you have the dreaded type 2 diabetes;
now what? Well, this is a common condition, so keep that in mind. Many people are living with it and you would never even know it. The important thing now is to listen o your doctor’s orders and live the healthiest lifestyle possible.
Managing Your Glucose Levels
This is often the first step of the process after diagnosis. Your doctor will give you more information on monitoring your blood glucose levels, including whether or not you need to test the levels at home with a meter, or how often to return to the doctor for a check-up and repeat blood test. Managing your levels comes down to medical treatment and lifestyle changes.
Make sure you follow your doctorâs advice about taking medications. Not everyone with type 2 diabetes takes them right after diagnosis. With many people, the condition is caught early, so the doctor wants to try less invasive treatments first. This usually involves changing some of your lifestyle habits and making sure you understand what you can and canât eat, along with other ways to reduce your blood sugar levels naturally. However, if your doctor advises you to start taking medications, make sure you do so or you could be facing a lot of more serious health complications.
Understand That Diabetes is Progressive
You need to understand that even if you feel fine right now and your blood sugar levels are relatively low, it can get worse over time if you donât manage it properly. Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease, meaning it can worsen over time, making it that much more important that you know how to monitor and manage the condition. Doing this will help to reduce your risk for potential complications like heart disease, stroke, vision problems, and nerve damage.
Keep Changing Your Lifestyle Habits
Along with following your doctorâ’s orders for managing the condition, you also want to keep working on living the healthiest life possible. Start recording what you eat and trying to make better choices, reducing your carb intake, and watching the excess sugar.
Exercise regularly by focusing on cardio and weight training, and work on reducing your alcohol intake and quit smoking. Consult in a professional who can help with diet and exercise if you need to.
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I wanted to talk about this topic because it is absolutely possible to prevent and even reverse Type 2 Diabetes (but you cannot reverse Type 1). Yes, it’s possible! and emerging studies looking at lifestyle medicine and prevention support this! But I always tell my patients that you must be dedicated and diligent in adopting a healthy lifestyle to get the best results. You can create certain behaviors and practices that will not only enrich your life, but that you can pass on to your family, friends, and community, to help break the cycle of this chronic disease so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve your blood sugar levels, maybe reverse type 2 diabetes. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Tools For Diabetes Prevention and Monitoring
Blood Sugar Monitoring
As you know, I always stress the importance of taking control of your health. Monitoring your blood sugar levels is one of the best ways to do this. To do this, a single drop of blood is collected with disposable lancets and placed on a disposable test strip, which you insert into a home blood-sugar monitoring device, called a glucometer.
The common times for checking your blood sugar are when you first wake up (fasting), before a meal, 2 hours after a meal, and at bedtime; however, you should check your blood sugar as many times a day as your health care team suggests.
Monitoring your blood sugar level provides you and your doctors with important knowledge about how food, activity, medication, stress, and other elements might affect your blood sugar levels. This data will assist you and your doctor in developing a therapy plan that is suited to your demands.
Since weight management is very important in combatting chronic diseases such as diabetes, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor (*this scale cannot be used with a pacemaker or other implanted devices).
Physical activity (or exercise) can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several chronic diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, just to name a few. Physical activity actually improves insulin sensitivity. Physical activity can improve your mood, boost your immune system, and even help you maintain a healthy weight.
I often recommend yoga and resistance training for physical activity, but as you are aware, there are plenty of forms of “movement” that you can do! But for the basics, especially if you’re just getting started, yoga and resistance training are where I would start.
Yoga can be a great way to improve your strength and flexibility, manage your stress, improve your heart health, and lose weight! I recommend using a grounded yoga mat to connect yourself with the earth and reduce inflammation.
Resistance training is the mainstay for overall health. It not only has beneficial effects on reducing body fat, it also increases muscle size and strength. Here are some basic dumbbells/free weights that I recommend to everyone.
Remember, living a healthy lifestyle including eating a whole foods plant-based diet and regular physical activity are the best ways to prevent diabetes. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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