ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What to Do If You Are Diagnosed With Diabetes

Updated on October 14, 2017
stephhicks68 profile image

Stephanie Hicks has been a type 1 diabetic for 15 years. She manages the disease with an insulin pump, doctor visits, diet, and exercise.

What Happens When you Have Diabetes?

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with diabetes?

You may be scared, worried, anxious or all of the above. The effect of diabetes is different with each individual, but to be healthy, you need to monitor blood sugar levels, use medications as prescribed by your doctor, engage in healthy exercise and eat a healthy diet.

I have had Type 1 diabetes since 2003, and as a result, I've made many lifestyle changes. While there is no chance of a cure for my disease (Type 2 patients may reduce or eliminate symptoms of the disease by losing weight or exercising more), I do wish to maximize the quality and length of my life.

Stated in very simple terms, diabetes results from the body's inability to properly convert blood glucose (also known as blood sugar) from nutrition we ingest into energy. Insulin is the hormone that "unlocks" cells to allow them to use blood sugar. Diabetics lack adequate insulin, which results in an increase in blood glucose to potentially dangerous levels. Over time, this may causing ketoacidoisis (a by-product of the body breaking down muscle fibers for fuel), coma or worse. However, with proper treatment and management of diabetes, most patients can live a full, healthy life, suffering minimal side effects (if any) from the disease.

Did you know that November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and November 14 is World Diabetes Day? To raise awareness of the effects of diabetes and how to live a healthy life, I've written this hub based on my personal experiences living with the disease.

Self-care is important when you have diabetes
Self-care is important when you have diabetes | Source

What does a Diabetes Diagnosis Mean for You and Your Family?

There are at least 10 general lifestyle changes to make when you receive a diabetes diagnosis. It may be hard to believe, but I am actually grateful (most days) that I have diabetes, because knowing that I cannot eat french fries, potato chips, cookies and more has removed those temptations. I feel better than ever on a diabetes diet of fresh fruit and veggies, whole grains, lean meat and low-fat dairy.

You may be surprised that these lifestyle changes are not overly difficult to make. In fact, most of them are simple common sense suggestions for anyone that wishes to live a healthy life. Whether you have been diagnosed with diabetes, worried about the potential of contracting the disease, or simply looking to improve your overall health, consider these ten lifestyle changes.

Living with Diabetes

Diabetes Means You Should Make Dietary Changes

1. Switch to whole foods. Prepackaged foods may be convenient - but not for your health. They are usually loaded with unnecessary sodium, trans-fats and are low in nutritional value. Head to the produce section and load up on fruits and vegetables you can recognize. In addition, whole grain breads and pastas, beans, low fat dairy and lean meats will taste better and improve your overall blood glucose levels when you properly calculate carbohydrates and watch portion sizes.

2. Watch portion sizes. One of the simplest things a diabetic should do (or anyone watching their carbohydrate intake and/or looking to lose weight) is to properly measure portion sizes. It is very easy to underestimate the amount you are eating, which will result in higher blood sugar levels. I find that eating at a restaurant is particularly difficult. My personal rule of thumb is to increase my insulin dose by about 1/3 over what I would estimate, given hidden oils, fats and sugary sauces that are often used in restaurant preparations.

3. Prevent blood sugar spikes by combining healthy carbs with low-fat protein. Prevent highs and lows that can make you feel awful, zap your energy and even lead to irritability by combining healthy carbohydrates for energy with low-fat protein that will fill you up and keep you satisfied for a longer period of time. For example: a tablespoon of peanut butter on whole grain bread, or a turkey wrap made with a whole wheat tortilla, including some thinly sliced bell peppers, fresh spinach, crumbled goat cheese and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegarette dressing. You will be able to focus longer without the temptation to look for unhealthy snacks between meals.

Delicious steamed vegetables are a healthy meal choice for diabetics
Delicious steamed vegetables are a healthy meal choice for diabetics | Source

Check Blood Sugar Regularly

Brush, floss and see your dentist regularly if you have diabetes
Brush, floss and see your dentist regularly if you have diabetes | Source

Diabetes Means You Should Take Better Care of Your Overall Health

4. Get adequate, restful sleep. The lack of proper sleep is a big factor in declining health world-wide. For diabetics in particular, it is critical to get adequate sleep to prevent a spike in stress hormones, which release stored glucose in a fight or flight response. You might wake up to high blood sugar even if you had a healthy dinner the night before. Sleep also improves our natural ability to fight off viruses, which can also raise blood sugar levels during flu season.

5. Brush and floss regularly. Did you know that gum disease can lead to heart disease and diabetes complications? Diabetics tend to heal more slowly than other people due to compromised immune systems and capillary damage. Also, nerve damage resulting from hyperglycemia can actually result in the inability to feel pain from tooth decay. Prevent plaque build-up by brushing and flossing regularly and schedule check-ups with your dentist at least twice a year. Make sure you tell your dentist that you have diabetes so they can watch for any signs of complications.

6. Schedule regular eye examinations. The small capillaries in the eyes can suffer damage from high blood sugar faster than almost any other organ in your body. Many years ago, diabetes would often result in blindness. Today, eyesight can be retained in diabetics with regular eye examinations and vigilant eye care. Don't wait for blurry vision!

7. Foot care. Like eyes, the blood vessels and nerves in feet can be damaged from frequent high blood sugar. In the past, diabetics who did not properly manage blood glucose ran the risk of infections and/or amputations from complications of the disease. Doctors today will test feeling in the soles of the feet. It is recommended that diabetics wear socks or other coverings of the feet to prevent injury that might not be felt if there is nerve damage.

Lifestyle changes for newly diagnosed diabetics

Diabetes Means You Should Increase Physical Activity

8. Aim for at least 20 minutes of moderate exercise a day. Believe me when I say that regular exercise - even as minimal as walking down the street to get the mail - is helpful for diabetics. Every day that I exercise for at least 20 minutes, my blood glucose levels are more consistent. I see fewer dips and spikes than I do on days when I am sedentary. If you are not currently active, be sure to talk to your doctor about incorporating exercise into your routine safely.

9. Fuel up properly to prevent low blood sugar during exercise. If your exercise session is going to last an hour or more and you are taking insulin or other blood sugar lowering medications, be sure to test before and after exercise, and eat a snack containing at least 15-20 grams of carbohydrates. I have run 6 marathons since being diagnosed with diabetes, and have only suffered hypoglycemia once.

Diabetics can improve health with regular exercise
Diabetics can improve health with regular exercise | Source

Diabetes Means Monitoring Blood Glucose and Taking Medication

10. Test blood sugar regularly to prevent hyper- and hypoglycemia. You cannot adequately manage diabetes without knowing your glucose levels. Just as with losing weight, if you don't know where you are, you cannot properly adjust factors to reach your goal.

Type 2 diabetics often suffer from high blood sugar (hyperglycemia). This can cause blurred vision, frequent urination, excessive thirst and nausea in mild cases. More severe cases result in dizziness, fainting, coma or worse. For diabetics on medication, there is a significant risk of hypoglycemia from over-medicating and not ingesting enough carbohydrates. Most diabetics should test at least twice a day. Type 1 patients should test 6-10 times a day, depending on activity level and diet.

So, I said ten lifestyle changes to make with diabetes, but there is one more. Consider this a bonus!

11. Follow prescription medication dosing instructions. Anyone - diabetics included - should carefully follow prescription medication dosing instructions. With diabetes, however, the risk of hypoglycemia from over-medicating, or hyperglycemia from not taking medications prescribed.

Do You or a Loved One Suffer From Diabetes?

See results

© 2011 Stephanie Hicks

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • nicediabetes profile image

      nicediabetes 

      6 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for the good tips, great information

    • carol3san profile image

      Carolyn Sands 

      6 years ago from Hollywood Florida

      Great information stephhicks68. I've been a diabetic for many years now but I have learned even more things about how to take care of myself today. I voted you up.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      When I was pregnant with my twins I developed gestational diabetes. With my second pregnancy my family doctor at the time told me that I would have it again and would develop diabetes later in life. However I did not get it with my second pregnancy and so far have had no problems but I always keep it in the back of my mind.

      I found your hub quite educational.

    • profile image

      Husky1970 

      6 years ago

      An excellent hub, Steph. I am so glad that you are dealing so effectively with your Diabetes. I have Type-2 and really work at some of your suggestions at times. But I need to be far more consistent in my efforts. Therefore, I have found your hub to be quite useful and interesting and have voted accordingly. Thanks for sharing this information.

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi icciev and Bob,

      Thanks for the comments! I hope to motivate people to take care of themselves to improve diabetes health, and these tips are not too difficult to do. Best, Steph

    • Bob Ewing profile image

      Bob Ewing 

      6 years ago from New Brunswick

      The ten steps are excellent, if you have diabetes follow them and you will realize a difference in your overall health, I know I have. It is amazing how simple exercise like walking can reduce your blood glucose levels.

    • icciev profile image

      icciev 

      6 years ago from Kuwait

      thanks for this interesting and useful tips, even if person is not sick these tips could better his life. voted up

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)