Community members living with type 2 diabetes share advice on starting — and maintaining — healthy habits.

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Photography by Aya Brackett

When you live with a chronic condition like type 2 diabetes (T2D) living a healthy lifestyle is essential. Healthy routines not only affect your physical well-being, but they can also have a positive impact on your mental health.

Taking steps to eat well and exercise regularly can help you feel more in control of your blood sugar levels. However, it can be challenging to turn a new behavior into a habit that sticks.

Here’s what members from the T2D Healthline community recommend for starting and keeping up with new healthy habits.

“It’s a lot of work, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. It is possible to find a meal plan that feels more satisfying and less restrictive. I know I went way too far initially and restricted carbs to a point that I knew wasn’t sustainable.

With the help of a great nutritionist, I was able to figure out a plan that feels way more comfortable and totally fits my health needs. I never would have figured it out on my own.” — Gwen

“I remember that I am only human and that as long as I get back on track again, it’s OK. I try not to stay off track more than two days” — Karen

“I try not to beat myself up over ‘failures.’ For instance, 2 weeks ago I was on a 9-week workout streak. I missed a day and ruined my streak. I’ve only worked out 1 day since (but I’ve been busy with work, too).

Usually I’d be mad at myself, or if I feel lazy. But I gave myself permission to just take a full-on break and get back to it when I feel up to it. No self-judgement. So, be kind to yourself!” — Mila Clarke Buckley, T2D Healthline community guide

“Try to add as many fresh fruits and veggies that are low carb as you can. Try new things. I know it’s easier said than done some days, but try to make changes you can live with. One meal or snack at a time. Don’t forget to add exercise. Find workouts you enjoy to help keep you motivated. You can do this.” — Sunflower 86

“Food preparation for meals and snacks are very helpful. Cut up serving sizes of fresh veggies and fruit and put them in containers or ziplock baggies in the refrigerator so they are ready to go.

This way, you can grab a healthy snack on the way out the door. Try not to keep highly processed food around, so you won’t be tempted by it.

Track all your foods daily — good or bad — by writing them down or using an app. It really helps to be able to actually see what you have consumed in a day and not just have it in your memory.” — Korie C.

Making changes to your day-to-day routine can feel overwhelming. It can be hard to know where to start.

The main thing to remember is that even very small changes can make a big difference.

It’s also important to know that you’re not alone in your health journey. The T2D Healthline community is here to help.

Elinor Hills is an associate editor at Healthline. She’s passionate about the intersection of emotional well-being and physical health as well as how individuals form connections through shared medical experiences. Outside of work, she enjoys yoga, photography, drawing, and spending way too much of her time running.