Type 1 diabetes occurs when your pancreas does not produce enough insulin. Type 2 diabetes is when you are resistant to the insulin produced by your beta cells (cells in the pancreas that make insulin), and in which you don’t produce enough insulin.
Both types can lead to high blood sugar and other complications. It can be difficult to find out you have either type of diabetes, and hard to cope at first. But it’s important to try to keep a positive attitude even in the face of any fears or uncertainties you may have, as stress can worsen the symptoms.
Keep it real
It’s also important to remain realistic about your condition. You might experience grief, denial, and anger at first, and that’s okay. It’s important to accept your situation so you can move forward healthfully. Diabetes can take a toll on your body over time. But if properly managed, you can lead a normal life, prevent problems from occurring, and thrive with diabetes.
Ten steps for the newly diagnosed
Here are 10 steps to take when you’re first diagnosed:
- Get a second opinion. Get tested again to make sure your diagnosis is official.
- Meet with your doctor and go over a plan of action. Ask as many questions as you need to ask. Your doctor might refer you to a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) to train you in checking your blood sugar levels, and a dietitian to help you with coming up with a meal plan.
- Start on medication prescribed by your doctor to lower blood glucose, and possibly also medication to lower cholesterol.
- Go on a specialized meal plan. This means eating fewer carbs, fats, cutting portion sizes, eliminating saturated and trans fats and sodas, eating more whole foods, and keeping a food diary. As a tip, try to fill half of your plate with vegetables or salad.
- Exercise regularly – at least 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise.
- Monitor your blood glucose to see what types of foods or activities tend to make your blood sugar spike or drop.
- Consider using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to automatically monitor blood sugar through a sensor under your skin. An insulin pump may also help improve your A1C levels.
- Get your eyes, feet, and kidneys screened annually.
- Stay positive and find a support system to help you along the way. Go see a counselor for help in processing your diagnosis and making plans to thrive with diabetes.
- Take a deep breath, and take the time to do things you love.
It’s important to start on your plan towards health immediately. Even if you don’t feel sick at first, not managing your glucose levels now could lead to problems later, like damage to the nervous system, eyes, heart, and kidneys. Listen to your body to see if changes in your health plan need to be made.