1. Keep in Mind: You're Among Millions
Today, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 29 million Americans live with diabetes. Around the world, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), the number hovers in excess of 380 million people with diabetes, with an expected rise to a half-billion by 2030. So you are hardly alone!
And with millions of people dealing with diabetes and more health experts searching for ways to improve care, diabetes is constantly in the news. Read reliable sources for accurate, science-based information, and be cautious of false promises, quick fixes, and magic potions that advertise “diabetes cures.”
2. Celebrate the Robust Amount of Diabetes Research
Two realities fuel the flames of interest in and funding for diabetes research: the epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes, and the increase in people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. For-profit businesses and nonprofit diabetes-related associations are working at breakneck speed to get the latest and greatest developments to market. This includes both finding cures in the distant future and zeroing in on new treatments and technologies just around the corner.
Promising technologies -- including making glucose monitoring and tracking easier and quicker and insulin-delivery devices simpler to use and carry -- are not far off. More new medications to lower and control blood sugar and delay the complications of diabetes are being developed than ever before. These new medications are aiming for less-frequent dosing, minimizing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and assisting with weight loss rather than causing weight gain.
3. Make Small Changes for BIG Rewards
There is no need to hit the pavement running or go on a rigid, unattainable diet to manage your diabetes. Research shows that a key to controlling type 2 diabetes in the early stages is to lose 10-20 pounds (5-7 percent of your body weight) and keeping those pounds at bay for years to come. In fact, losing just a few pounds, eating healthier, and walking a few times a week can cause blood sugar to plummet if you've caught type 2 early enough. Losing a few pounds can also lower blood pressure, improve blood lipids (cholesterol), and help a host of other health problems, such as sleep apnea. Weight loss after years of having type 2 diabetes might not be as impactful on your glucose levels, but healthy eating and exercise are always important for your health.
Realize that changing your lifelong eating and lifestyle habits takes time and effort. Set a few easy-to-accomplish goals to start. Experience success, then set a few other goals. Over time, you'll be amazed by the changes you've made. Keep in mind: success breeds success.
4. Partner with Your Provider
Diabetes is a 24/7/365 disease that requires continual treatment adjustments over the years. While you need to stay in the driver's seat for your day-to-day management, you'll want a health care provider who will work side by side with you as a partner in your efforts. Your provider should constantly strive to help you fine-tune your treatment to achieve your blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood-pressure goals. Search out a knowledgeable and up-to-date provider, one who knows and uses new medications, technologies, and behavior-change strategies. Make sure your provider knows the American Diabetes Association Standards of Care and orders the tests and checks you need to prevent or detect diabetes complications.
5. Find a Diabetes Educator
Why do you need to work with a diabetes educator? Diabetes educators can help you learn about diabetes, and specifically about your diabetes. They can help you set goals for behavior change, understand the meaning of your blood sugar results, and advocate for you with your other providers. Maybe most important of all, your diabetes educator can serve as your cheerleader or shoulder to cry on.
The most common place to find a diabetes educator or a diabetes education program is in hospital-based programs or in your primary care provider’s practice. Be on the lookout. More diabetes educators and programs are also cropping up in novel locations, such as pharmacies, supermarkets, food banks, and even online, where services may offer coaching or coaching coupled with a full diabetes education program.
Ask your provider for a referral for diabetes education. Medicare Part B and private health insurance plans generally cover diabetes education, also known as diabetes self-management education and support.