What to Do if You Are Newly Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes

Diet, Exercise and Weight Loss: Critical Components to Managing Your Diabetes

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If you've recently been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, odds are you are feeling quite overwhelmed. But it is okay. The good news is that, while diabetes is a disease that needs to be managed on a daily basis, you can live a normal, healthy life with diabetes. The key components to success are motivation, support, planning and lifestyle changes. Of these, two of most critical components, diet and physical activity, are lifestyle changes that can help you to lose weight, increase your energy levels and significantly change your blood sugars.

It is the position statement of the American Diabetes Association: "At diagnosis, highly motivated patients with HgbA1c already near target (e.g., <7.5%) could be given the opportunity to engage in lifestyle changes for a period of 3–6 months before embarking on pharmacotherapy (usually metformin)." This means that if you are someone newly diagnosed with diabetes whose A1c at diagnosis is close to normal, around 7.5%, then initial treatment options can be diet and exercise only for three-to-six months before starting medicine. But, don't worry, with the right amount of weight loss, diet and physical activity changes you may be able to modify or discontinue your medicine altogether. That is a pretty significant statement. I have seen newly diagnosed patients lose weight and stop taking medicine - it is possible. Put your mind to and you can do anything. So where should you start? 

A Patient Centered Approach: No two people with diabetes should be treated the same.

Why? Because we are all individuals with different habits, work schedules, food preferences, etc. It is important that you find the best plan that works for you. Odds are you will have a great deal of "food police" trying to tell you what to eat. You may also hear a great deal of conflicting information, such as you cannot eat fruit, which is simply not true.

It's important to receive diabetes self management education from a licensed professional, such as a Certified Diabetes Educator to help you organize your diabetes and get you on track. Get educated on how to create a healthy meal and exercise plan. If you need some reinforcement or are just starting out, start here:  

Change Your Diet: 

Finding a healthy and sustainable way to eat is absolutely critical for weight loss and weight maintenance. Most people will find success following some sort of diet, but once they stop "dieting" they gain all the weight back plus more. You must strike a balance and be consistent. One of the best ways to do this is to meet with a Certified Diabetes Educator or Registered Dietitian who can help you craft the best plan - whether it be a low carbohydrate, modified carbohydrate or a consistent carbohydrate diet, the emphasis on carbohydrates is important because these are the types of foods that impact blood sugars the most. Carbohydrates are found in foods such as fruit, milk, yogurt, starches - bread, pasta, rice, beans, starchy vegetables - potatoes, peas, corn, and sugary foods - cookies, cake, candy and ice cream.

Having diabetes doesn't mean you are banned from eating carbohydrates ever again, but it is important to choose the right kinds of carbohydrates in the appropriate quantities. Reducing your carbohydrate intake will help you to take stress off your pancreas, lose weight, increase your energy levels and reduce your blood sugars. 

Most people seem to do best with a lower carbohydrate breakfast, a high fiber lunch and a balanced carbohydrate controlled dinner. To get started, think about your plate - use a smaller plate and make 1/2 of your plate non starchy vegetables (salad, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, etc), 1/4 of your plate lean protein (white meat chicken, turkey, fish, lean beef), and 1/4 of your plate a complex carbohydrate - sweet potato, beans, whole grains - quinoa, barley, bulgar, etc. 

Are you someone that fairs well with structure? Do you need a structured meal plan or would you be better off estimating portions, label reading and learning about food? Either way you will need to know how to put meals together - if you've never been a chef - it's okay. You can put together simple meals with simple ingredients. Get started today: 

10 Foods You Should Always Have in Your House

10 Essentials for Cooking Healthy with Diabetes 

Every Resource You Need to Eat Healthy with Diabetes 

Move, move, move. 

Don't stop reading - moving doesn't have to mean going to the gym for hours. To start, simply move more. Exercise is critical for utilizing insulin (which helps to move sugar to your cells) and lowering blood sugar. And the more you move, the better your metabolism will be and you'll be more adept at burning calories. Life is busy and finding the time to exercise can be tough, but I can't stress enough how important it is to move especially if you are someone who sits at a desk all day long. To get yourself motivated, try to make exercise fun, pencil it into your calendar as if you would schedule a lunch date - make a commitment. Do as much as you can when you can with the aim to try to hit an eventual target of 150 minutes per week of moderate activity including aerobic, resistance, and flexibility training. The hardest part is actually getting yourself to do it, but once you do you will feel great. 

Learn more about how to start exercising today: 

How to Build a Better Workout Program

How to Start a Workout Program if You are Overweight

Moderate Weight Loss: 

One of the reasons people develop diabetes is because of excess weight. When you carry excess weight, your body is unable to move sugar from your blood to your cells to use for energy because your cells become resistant to insulin. Insulin is the hormone that acts as the "gate keeper." It opens the gate so the sugar can get into the cell - when your cells are resistant to insulin the sugar cannot go into the cell and instead stays in your blood stream. By losing about 5-10% of your body weight, you can help to reduce your blood sugars. Get started today: 

Simple Tips for Weight Loss

Test Your Blood Sugars: 

If you were just diagnosed with diabetes and are not taking any medicine, you may not see any reason to test your blood sugars. But, blood sugar testing can actually act as an eye opener and motivating tool for you to change your diet and get moving. You don't need to test 4 times a day, rather aim to start testing a few times per week. Alternate fasting (in the morning when you haven't eaten for at least 8 hours) and two hours after a meal. Use your numbers to adjust your carbohydrate intake and increase your physical activity. For some, this is a good tool (better than the scale) used for motivation. Afraid of needles? You don't have to be afraid - the needles of today are thin and sharp which reduces pain. Read on for more tips on why and how to test your blood sugar: 

How to Avoid Pain When Testing Your Blood Sugars

4 Benefits of Keeping a Log Book 


Inzucchi, Silvio, et. al. Management of hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetes: a patient-centered approach position statement of the american diabetes association (ADA) and the european association for the study of diabetes (EASD). Diabetes Care: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/35/6/1364.full?sid=046a6218-e23b-42b3-854e-c781313f7425#ref-48

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