Developing a Type 2 Diabetes Care Plan
A management plan after a diabetes diagnosis can help you make healthy changes in your life.
By Marijke Vroomen-Durning, RN
Medically Reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH
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If you've recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you may have a lot to learn about the disease itself, how to change your diet, what medications to take, possible long-term complications, and more. How do you take this all in?
Since it’s not easy to learn everything all at once, educating yourself about type 2 diabetes requires a well thought-out care plan that outlines ways to live well with this condition. Kathy Honick, RN, a diabetes educator at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, says such a plan should cover:
By incorporating these issues into a plan, you — and your family — can learn the dos and don’ts of diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes: Healthy Eating
As you work on controlling your blood sugar, you may need to learn about portion control and how to make the right food choices. According to Honick, "understanding how the choice of foods and beverages affects diabetes control, including the ability to identify and limit carbohydrates in meal planning," is the goal. The more you learn about how many carbohydrates and how much fat and protein you can safely eat in a given meal, the easier it will be to make good choices.
Type 2 Diabetes: Being Active
Healthy lifestyles include physical activity. Regular exercise can help control your diabetes and may even decrease the amount of medications you need to take. A diabetes educator can help you learn about the types of activities that can best help you, but always check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen.
Type 2 Diabetes: Monitoring your Sugar
As someone with type 2 diabetes, you’ll need to monitor your blood sugar on a regular basis. Several automated devices are available to help you keep track of your blood sugar level, and many people can help you learn how to do this, including a diabetes educator, nurses at a diabetes clinic, and even your pharmacist.
Type 2 Diabetes: Taking Medication
There are three "rights" in taking medication properly:
- Have the right amount.
- Take it at the right time.
- Make sure you take it the right way.
If you have questions about your medications, never hesitate to ask. Your doctor, nurse, diabetes educator, and pharmacist are there to help you.
Type 2 Diabetes: Problem Solving
Honick says that problem-solving is an acquired skill that requires a plan to manage problems effectively. This means, for example, knowing what causes your sugar level to go too high or too low, and learning how to manage your sugar even when you come down with a cold or the flu.
Type 2 Diabetes: Reducing Risks
Unfortunately, one of the issues people with diabetes hear about constantly is the risk of complications from the disease. By changing some behaviors, you can significantly reduce those risks. You can do this by having your eyes and teeth checked every year, monitoring your feet for wounds and sores, not smoking, getting recommended vaccinations — like flu shots — and asking for help when you don’t understand something.
Type 2 Diabetes: Healthy Coping
A chronic disease like type 2 diabetes can be challenging since it requires management over your entire lifetime. Honick recommends that you "identify things that cause distress and stress, and recognize that depression is common with diabetes." Ask for help and accept support when it’s offered. You don’t have to do this alone.
Coming up with a care plan and working closely with your health care team are important in helping you control your diabetes. While it may seem daunting at first, as you learn to manage your diabetes, you’ll realize that you can continue to live a full and healthy life.
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