5 Tips for Dealing with a New Diabetes Diagnosis

Getting a diagnosis of diabetes can be a serious blow. But it doesn't have derail your life. DietBet player Brenna shares her strategies for making diabetes manageable.
diabetes

I can still remember the day that I received the call from my OB’s office informing me that I had Gestational Diabetes. I remember the embarrassment and worry that clouded my mind almost immediately: Did I do this to myself, to my baby? Will she be okay? How will I get through this?

No matter the type of diabetes, it can be crushing to receive the diagnosis. We all know the stigma the disease carries, and have heard the diabetes horror stories and the drastic measures others take to avoid potential complications. It doesn’t have to be that way though.

By being proactive, educating yourself, and taking advantage of the many resources available today, you can ensure that you’re managing your diabetes—rather than your diabetes managing you.

As soon as you receive the official diagnosis from the doctor’s office, you should set up an appointment to see a nutritionist, and maybe even a doctor specializing in diabetes (endocrinologist). Both are great resources that you should turn to for advice and medical questions. Outside of the doctor’s office, these five tips that I counted on to manage my diabetes will help make day-to-day life much easier:

1. Plan Your Meals

When you visit with your doctor and nutritionist, you should get a couple key numbers to strive for: the number of allowed carbohydrates per meal, as well as your desired glucose reading after testing. Meal planning is key to ensuring that you remain conscientious about what you are eating and how it will affect your glucose levels. Whether you go the old-school route of using a notebook, or prefer an app (try MyFitnessPal), it is important to plan out your food for the day so that you can be prepared.

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2. Replace Tempting Food with Great Rewards

One of the things I struggled with in the beginning was eliminating my trigger foods. Candy bars, bread, and sugary Starbucks drinks were not things I could keep in my diet and maintain reasonable glucose levels. Instead, I replaced those items with non-food rewards. If I made it through the week without giving in to temptation, I would reward myself with something that I wanted, such as a new shade of nail polish (here’s some inspiration for non-food rewards if you’re stuck).

3. Use Your Available Resources

As I mentioned before, resources such as your nutritionist or doctor can really make a difference in your journey through diabetes. Additionally, there are many books, both digital and physical, that offer great recipes and practical advice for the lifestyle change you are making. I picked up Real Food for Gestational Diabetes when I was struggling to get my numbers to stay within the acceptable range; it was exactly what I needed to grasp what kind of eating I should be doing. It includes some simple meal plans that give the reader a better idea of what to aim for.

Pinterest also houses lots of great blogs from those dealing with diabetes; just search “diabetes,” and a wealth of information will come up. One blog I found helpful is Diabetes Daily, which has useful information regarding diabetes-related topics, as well as a recipes section and a forum where you can ask and answer questions.

4. Exercise

Exercise is a must when it comes to controlling your diabetes. This is something you’ll hear from your doctor, nutritionist, and veteran diabetes fighters. Does thinking of running make you break out in a cold sweat? Try walking! It’s a great starter for those who are new to physical fitness, and is much easier on your joints. Start gradually by walking 15 minutes a day, and build up from there. Exercising is highly recommended to help keep your glucose levels down.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About It

You might feel a jumble of different emotions after being told you have diabetes—shock, worry, guilt, fear, shame—but that doesn’t mean you should keep quiet about it. Diabetes is a disease that millions of people have, so the chances are high that someone you know is fighting it too. Speaking up about your challenges will encourage those around you to open up about the struggles they face, and help make the road easier for both of you.

Having a support system is very important no matter what disease you are fighting. Whether it’s made up of family, friends, or fellow fighters, the support you gain is the motivation you need to continue to fight each day. With a network of support, a good doctor and nutritionist to turn to for help, and the five tips above, your diabetes can become a manageable and stress-free area of your life.

What tips have you found to help you manage your diabetes? Share them in the comments below.

Make it WayBetter

Halle Berry, Nick Jonas, Tom Hanks, Salma Hayek...what do they all have in common? They all have diabetes. When you feel down about your diabetes, think of these go-getters and remember that no diagnosis can hold you down.