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Living with type 2 diabetes? You're not alone.

An estimated 30 million Americans (9.4 percent of the total US population) have been diagnosed with diabetes.[1] 90 to 95% of those diagnosed have type 2 diabetes, which typically develops in people who are over the age of 45. In recent years, there has been a shift in who’s affected, with type 2 diabetes affecting more children, teens and young adults.[2]

If you’re living with type 2 diabetes, you know that it affects almost all parts of your life, from what you eat, to how much you exercise, to how frequently you need to visit a doctor.

On this page, we’ve provided some resources and guidelines to help you make healthy choices for your body. You’ll learn about:

High Blood Pressure & Other Diabetes Complications

Having type 2 diabetes can lead to serious health conditions. The good news is that, with the correct steps, these conditions are can be managed or prevented.

Healthy Nutrition

Meal planning for type 2 diabetes can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right approach, you can make sure your food choices are both healthy and delicious!

Coping with Diabetes

Your thoughts, feelings and attitude can affect your health – especially when you have type 2 diabetes. If you’re not taking care of your mental health, you won’t be able to take care of your diabetes.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

High Blood Pressure & Other Diabetes Complications

Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure often go hand in hand. 2 out of 3 people living with diabetes report having high blood pressure or taking medication to manage their high blood pressure.[3] According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), having type 2 diabetes can lead to a number of serious health conditions, like heart disease and stroke.[4] Having high blood pressure on top of diabetes can increase your risk even more.[5]

The ADA recommends that people living with diabetes target a high blood pressure range of lower than 140/90mmHg.[6] If you want to keep track of your blood pressure numbers, don’t forget that you can do so for free at your local higi Health Station!

Taking care of diabetes also involves actively managing your blood glucose and cholesterol, especially through healthy eating. An easy way to keep track of what to pay attention to is to remember your ABCs:

Learn more about the ABCs below[7]:

  • A for the A1c Test
  • B for Blood pressure
  • C for Cholesterol
  • S for Stopping smoking

Nutrition

There’s no one “right” way to eat when you’re living with type 2 diabetes – it can change based on your budget, schedule, preferences and so much more. Generally, a good rule of thumb is to choose foods you know are nutritious and watch your portion control.

If you’re not sure what constitutes a single portion, the ADA recommends using the size of your fist as an approximate for one cup.[8] The plate method, described below, is another helpful way to get a visual of what a meal should look like[9]:

  • Looking at your basic 9-inch dinner plate, draw an imaginary line down the middle of the plate and divide one side in half.
  • Fill the largest section with non-starchy vegetables, like salad, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and carrots.
  • In one of the smaller sections, put a grain or starchy food such as bread, noodles, rice, corn or potatoes.
  • In the other smaller section, put your protein like fish, chicken, lean beef, tofu, or cooked dried beans.

Changing how you eat can be a major lifestyle change, and can be difficult to do. Remember to give yourself time and be patient with yourself; there are lots of different factors to juggle when you’re living with type 2 diabetes. For inspiration, check out the ADA’s Food Hub for a collection of healthy, delicious recipes.

Coping with type 2 diabetes

Not one of us is a stranger to stress, and we all know that positive coping techniques are important for our long-term health. For someone living with type 2 diabetes, managing stress in a healthy way is even more important because stress can affect blood glucose levels. When you are under stress, your body makes stress hormones, which can make your blood glucose levels go up.[10]

According to the ADA, while stress influences blood glucose levels, the opposite is also true. High or low blood glucose can change your emotions and your mood. When your blood glucose levels are too high, you can get cranky, overly tired and not have enough energy to get through the day. When your blood glucose levels are too low, it can cause you to feel anxious or nervous and can cloud your thinking.[11] Because taking care of type 2 diabetes is a difficult job, it requires a clear mind – which means that it’s important to maintain healthy blood glucose levels.

If you’re looking for positive techniques for dealing with stress, the ADA has some helpful suggestions[12]:

  • Talk to someone you trust about your stress
  • Allow yourself time to pray, meditate, or just be in the present
  • Find ways to laugh and spend time with people who you are relaxed around
  • Ask for help instead of trying to do everything yourself
  • Set limits on what you’re willing to do for others
  • Schedule only what you know you can really complete in a day
  • Work on one thing at a time
  • Be physically active
  • Take up a hobby or an activity that you enjoy
  • Join a support group
  • Remind yourself of what you’ve done to help yourself. Don’t put yourself down for the things you haven’t been able to do yet.

References

[1] Diabetes Statistics. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/diabetes-statistics

[2] Type 2 Diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/type2.html

[3] Conquer High Blood Pressure. The American Diabetes Association. https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-risk/prevention/high-blood-pressure

[4] Complications, Diabetes Overview. The American Diabetes Association. https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/complications

[5] Conquer High Blood Pressure. The American Diabetes Association. https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-risk/prevention/high-blood-pressure

[6] Hypertension Management in Diabetes: 2018 Update. American Diabetes Association. 2018 Aug; 31(3): 218-224.https://doi.org/10.2337/ds17-0085

[7] Managing Diabetes. National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/managing-diabetes

[8] Plan Your Portions. American Diabetes Association. https://professional.diabetes.org/sites/professional.diabetes.org/files/pel/source/wcie_2019_portion_control_flyer_en_8_5x11_draft03_lowres.pdf

[9] Diabetes Meal Planning. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/eat-well/meal-plan-method.h

[10] Diabetes and Stress. American Diabetes Association, The Diabetes Advisor. https://professional.diabetes.org/sites/professional.diabetes.org/files/media/Emotions_-_Stress.pdf

[11] Diabetes and Stress. American Diabetes Association, The Diabetes Advisor. https://professional.diabetes.org/sites/professional.diabetes.org/files/media/Emotions_-_Stress.pdf

[12] Diabetes and Stress. American Diabetes Association, The Diabetes Advisor. https://professional.diabetes.org/sites/professional.diabetes.org/files/media/Emotions_-_Stress.pdf