Living with type 2 diabetes means you have to manage your daily habits and take good care of yourself. Some people need to lose weight, while others need a combination of lifestyle changes. This may seem like a lot to take on. But with a little bit of work, you can manage your diabetes and take control of your health.
Here are some tips to help you get started, no matter where you are on your type 2 diabetes journey.
Many people with type 2 diabetes are also overweight. If you need to lose weight, you’re not alone. Controlling your weight can help you regulate your blood sugar levels. A major part of managing your weight is making healthy food choices. Strive for a diet that contains a variety of nutrients, such as:
- vitamins, found in fruits and fortified cereals
- minerals, found in vegetables and dairy
- protein, found in meat, nuts, and seeds
- healthy carbohydrates, found in vegetables, legumes, and whole grains
- healthy fats, found in olive oil, nuts, and dairy
It can be difficult to reach your desired body weight. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases says that losing just 10 to 15 pounds can make a difference.
Cut back your total calories each day by eating smaller portions, and you may have more success with weight control. Of course, talk to your primary care doctor, diabetes health team, or a dietitian before starting a weight loss program.
Regular exercise can help to control your weight. It can also decrease your risk of other health complications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should try to get 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, five days a week.
Moderate-intensity exercise includes activities like fast walking, biking, jogging, aerobics, and swimming.
Be creative and find other activities, like skiing or surfing, that raise your heart rate and cause you to sweat. Check with your doctor before starting a program to be sure that it’s safe, especially for your heart and your joints. If you’re not used to exercising regularly, start off slowly and then work your way up to doing more each time.
You may be able to manage type 2 diabetes through diet and exercise, but you may also need the aid of prescription medications. Diabetes medications are typically oral pills that help control blood sugar levels. Often, the medicine will lower your blood sugar, and you’ll notice that your levels are better controlled.
There are many different medications used for type 2 diabetes. You may need only one kind or a combination of several. Take each medication as it is prescribed, and let your doctor know if you experience any side effects.
Having type 2 diabetes puts you at risk for dental problems such as gum disease. When your blood sugar levels are too high, you may have trouble fighting off bacteria that cause oral infections. You may also have a higher risk of dry mouth, which can cause sores that make it hard to chew food.
Regular brushing and flossing is particularly important. To avoid problems, brush your teeth after eating and use a soft toothbrush. Floss your teeth at least once a day, but be gentle when working the floss between your teeth. See your dentist regularly and be sure to tell them that you have type 2 diabetes. Your dentist may also recommend other resources for keeping your teeth healthy.
Watching for Complications
Complications from type 2 diabetes can develop in almost any area of your body. So it’s important to be aware of certain signs. Type 2 diabetes can increase your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, or stroke. See your doctor for help with testing to check your blood cholesterol and your blood pressure.
Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can also cause poor circulation that affects your feet. Take good care of your feet by wearing socks at all times, even around the house. Check your feet for sores and keep your toenails short. Make sure that your shoes fit well and aren’t causing blisters. Poor circulation can also damage blood vessels in other areas, such as your kidneys or the retina of your eyes. Look for signs of problems, and tell your doctor if you’re not feeling well.
Day-to-day management of type 2 diabetes is ongoing. It may be overwhelming at first, but establishing a regular schedule can help you stay on top of your disease.