The Power of Change
Last updated: October 2022
Overwhelmed, sad, frustrated, stressed. These are all feelings you most likely encountered when finding out about your diabetes diagnosis. With the need for changes to your diet, the possible need for medication and insulin, and new frightening risks that come along with having type 2 diabetes, you may be feeling powerless. But there are positive changes that can come from your diagnosis, and you can make a difference in your health.
Lifestyle changes or insulin?
Some people decide to refuse insulin therapy when it is first offered as an option to control their diabetes. Many feel that they would rather make diet and exercise changes than use needles and glucose monitors. It is up to the physician whether or not insulin is necessary, so if you have questions regarding your regimen please speak with your practitioner.
Proven benefits of lifestyle changes
“Among a cohort of patients with type 2 diabetes who decided not to take insulin, the odds of achieving lower HbA1c measures were eight times higher for those who made adjustments to their lifestyle practices compared with those who did not, according to findings published in the Journal of Diabetes and its Complications.”1
The study found that more than 25% of the patients involved that had a decrease in HbA1c stated that they made lifestyle changes. The patients that made changes to their lifestyle were eight times more likely to experience a lowered HbA1c level than those who did not. “There are many medications available to treat diabetes, and insulin is not the best treatment for everyone. But there are patients for whom insulin is the best approach… There is no single, one-size-fits-all approach, and finding the best treatment for every patient is our most important task.”1
Diet is a giant component of the lifestyle modifications that need to happen when trying to control diabetes. Many tools, such as food diaries and blood glucose logs, can help patients track the way their body responds to varied foods and physical activity levels. If you do not already track your readings, grab a journal or notebook at the store and try to keep it with you. It can be helpful for you, and even for your physician, to look back at your daily averages as well as the food choices you are making. If you aren’t sure what kind of diet choices are best for you, check out our recipes section or ask your registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator for tips.
Physical activity changes
Another important part of the diabetic lifestyle modification plan is increasing physical activity. Exercise can promote weight loss and improve cardiovascular health. It can also provide an endorphin release leading to a happy feeling that is very welcomed with the stress of your diabetes maintenance. Speak with your physician about your exercise regimen, including the length of time and intensity. He or she can help you exercise safely, and manage your blood glucose levels during and after physical activity.
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