Take control of diabetes: Find your motivation to change

Posted by Stephanie Smith, CDE, PharmD, Ridgeview Medical Center on Apr 11, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Diabetes_blood_sugar_check.jpgOver the past three decades, the number of adults with diagnosed diabetes in the U.S. nearly quadrupled to 21.3 million.  If this trend continues, as many as one out of every three adults in the U.S. could be diagnosed with diabetes by 2050 (Reference: Diabetes 2014 Report Card, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Three tips to take control of your diabetes

It is likely that you or someone who know may be affected by this disease.  Here are three tips to take control of diabetes:

  • Taking "small steps" can help successfully make long-lasting lifestyle changes. Patients newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes may be overwhelmed by information and feel the sudden need to completely change their entire life.  It can feel incredibly challenging, especially since our natural reflex is to fight change – and this makes things difficult. 

    It can be useful to focus on one change at a time. For example, you could focus on improving your diet for two weeks. Once you feel a bit more comfortable there, spend the next few weeks focused on increasing or changing your physical activity. Even if the plan is to eat smaller portions of what you would normally eat or to dedicate just 10 minutes every day to exercise, you can make progress.

    Remember to not be too hard on yourself. It’s not all or nothing.  Deciding you are going to eat a piece of chocolate cake at lunch does not undo the hard work you have already done nor does it determine your future decisions that day or week.  Two steps forward, one step back still eventually gets you to your goal.  “Rome wasn’t built in a day!”

    For a link to more information about recommended meal plans for diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association website
  • When thinking about your health, it’s important to look at the big picture – medications and lifestyle choices both matter. I tell my patients that even the best medications won’t work to their potential unless you are also making changes to your diet and activity level. On the other hand, some patients can be frustrated that their blood sugar levels are not staying down regardless of how hard they try. This is common and may be a sign that the pancreas is not making as much insulin as it used to, or the liver is making more sugar than it should, or genetic insulin resistance is coming into play. It may be appropriate to work with your provider to consider a medication addition or adjustment.

    When it comes to diabetes control, I also encourage both patients and providers to look beyond just A1C lowering and make sure that we focus on preventing sugars from getting both too high and too low (i.e. glucose stability).

    Diabetes control also does not mean only your lifestyle choices, but looking at your total health - including weight, depression, heart history, impact of non-diabetes medications you may be taking, etc . Controling your diabetes involves so much more than just adjusting a dose of your medication.

    There is a saying that “The diabetic patient that knows the most lives the longest,” so I encourage all of my patients to learn as much as possible - and then to come back and share with me. If you don’t have a diabetes educator that you work with, I encourage you to find one. 
  • Create a support system for yourself. Outside of family or close friends, a great option is group education or support classes –it is truly amazing what you can learn from other patients living with Type 2 diabetes. Below are some web links to both online support group forums as well as a listing to local live support groups in Minnesota.

https://www.diabetesdaily.com/forum/ (online)

https://community.diabetes.org/home (online)


Ultimately, you can take control of your Type 2 diabetes.

Visit www.icanimagine.com to view other tips from both patients and providers about living with Type 2 diabetes. To learn about diabetes education options visit Ridgeview's website or call 952-361-2450.

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Topics: nutrition/diet

Medical and health information presented here is intended to be general in nature, and should not be viewed as a substitute for professional advice. Please consult with a health care professional for all matters relating to personal medical and health care issues. In case of an emergency, please call 911.