A Diabetes Diagnosis: Where to Begin

Julie Walker, Take Control Staff

October 18, 2019

1.5 million people will be diagnosed with diabetes this year. If you’re one of them, you may be overwhelmed, shocked, and worried. It may be hard to accept, and you may be tempted to ignore it or delay seeking treatment. But early treatment is one of the best ways to “take control” of diabetes. Our company name stems from this very fact. The sooner you address the disease, the less severe it will become, and the less long-term risks you’ll face.

Managing diabetes involves four main components: Food, Exercise, Glucose Monitoring, and for many, Medication. Food and exercise are the most important components; paired with monitoring, and sometimes medication, living healthy with diabetes is achievable.

Food

If you’re newly diagnosed with diabetes, the first question you’ll probably have is: “What CAN I eat?” The good news is that you can usually eat most of the same things you’ve been eating, but you will need to make some adjustments. It’s important to eat a variety of foods, including vegetables, whole grains, fruits, non-fat dairy, healthy fats, and lean meat or protein. In order to keep your blood glucose steady, you’ll want to space your meals evenly throughout the day, and avoid skipping meals. Working to achieve the right size portions and choosing foods from several food groups will help ensure you’re getting everything you need. In the monitoring section below, we’ll explain the tie in to spacing meals and how it affects blood glucose. Each person is different, so overall, eating well with diabetes is about finding the right balance that works for you. Take Control’s registered dietitians will help you find the right balance. We start by talking to you about what you currently eat, and then help you balance your meals with variety and small alterations. You’ll be happily surprised to find out that it won’t be complicated or restrictive.

Exercise

The second big component of living well with diabetes is exercise. When you have diabetes, your cells don’t use insulin properly. Physical activity helps your body’s cells use insulin to lower your blood sugar. Even a small amount of activity, like light walking, has an impact on blood sugar. So, if you’re not a person who likes to exercise, it’s important to at least start taking short walks or try another small change to increase your activity. Every change, no matter how small, makes a difference in your ability to manage diabetes. Take Control’s exercise specialists will talk to you about what types of activity you enjoy, or perhaps enjoyed in the past, and help you find a way to schedule exercise into your day in a way that fits your lifestyle.

Monitoring

Annual health screenings often include a hemoglobin A1c test because they measure glycosylated hemoglobin, or the glucose which is directly bound to the hemoglobin in your blood. A hemoglobin A1c indicates the presence of excessive glucose in the bloodstream, which is likely how your diabetes was diagnosed. Once diagnosed with diabetes, it’s important to monitor your blood glucose so you can tell if your nutrition, exercise, and medication treatments are working. With monitoring, we are trying to answer the question: “what affects my blood glucose levels?” It’s important to understand what makes your blood glucose rise or fall so you can take steps to stay on target. Things that affect your blood glucose are foods that contain carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are found in many foods and beverages. Activity, medications, infection or other illness, hormones, and stress also affect your blood glucose. You can test your blood glucose at home with a portable device called a glucose monitor. These are prescribed by your doctor. There are a variety of brands, and some insurance companies specify which monitor you should use for the lowest cost test strips.  So, check which brand your insurance company offers for the best coverage. Your doctor will also tell you when to check your blood sugar. How often you need to test your blood glucose is often based on your diabetes type and if you take medication or not. Take Control’s Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) will work with you to get even more specific about when to test, based on your nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle. Each person has different needs, so it’s important to work with a CDE to really dial-in control of your blood glucose and health.

Medication

People with Type 1 diabetes need to use insulin, and will need to work closely with a physician for medication management.  Those with either Type 2 or Gestational Diabetes are sometimes prescribed medications including insulin. There are many types of medications that work in different ways to lower your blood glucose. Sometimes one medication is prescribed; other times it may be a combination of medications. Your Take Control heath coach will ask you which medications you are taking, and will develop a coaching plan based on these treatments. Take Control’s CDE has advanced training and knowledge to work with people with diabetes in every aspect of your treatment, with particular knowledge of the medication options and how they interact with food, exercise, and other lifestyle factors.

If you’re newly diagnosed with diabetes, the Take Control program will give you an amazing partner to navigate the questions and concerns you have. We have the training, experience, compassion, availability and support to help you control diabetes and live an active, healthy life.