Coping With a Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosis

Key points

  • Being diagnosed with diabetes is a big life change.
  • It will take some time to get used to your new normal.
  • With a little help, you can thrive while living with diabetes.
Woman showing support for another woman in a therapy session.

What to know when you're first diagnosed

While there's no cure for type 2 diabetes, there are ways to manage it and thrive. There's also no one-size-fits-all diabetes management and treatment plan. Your doctor, diabetes education specialist, and other health care professionals can help you create a plan for your specific needs.

A successful diabetes management plan will include healthy eating, exercise, medical support, and emotional support. Getting emotional support is just as important as any other part of diabetes care and treatment.

You may not have all the answers on how to deal with diabetes right now, but over time, if you keep working at it, you'll figure it out. Many people with type 2 diabetes lead long, healthy lives. Just remember—whatever you're feeling is OK, and you're not alone. Here's what to keep in mind as you take each step forward.

It's not your fault

You've been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes because your body doesn't use insulin well. Because of that, it can't keep your blood sugar at normal levels.

There are many factors that can lead to type 2 diabetes. Some you have no control over, like your race and ethnicity, stress, and having a close relative with type 2 diabetes. Now that you know you have diabetes, you can plan your next steps to help manage it and prevent serious complications.

You can live a long, healthy life with diabetes

You've just been told you have type 2 diabetes, and you're not sure what the future holds. That's completely understandable. What you should know is that we've come a long way in reducing the impact of diabetes on people's lives.

People with diabetes are living longer, healthier lives than ever before with fewer complications. And help is available through diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) services. With DSMES, you can gain the knowledge, skills, and support needed to successfully manage diabetes.

See a diabetes care and education specialist

A diabetes care and education specialist will be an important part of your health care team. These licensed health care professionals will work with you to develop a personalized management plan. Your plan will be specific to your health needs, lifestyle, beliefs, and culture.

DSMES has been proven to help improve A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. What's more, it can even help reduce the risk of diabetes complications and hospitalizations. Ask your doctor for a referral to DSMES to help you manage your diabetes.

You don't need special foods

There is no such thing as a "diabetes diet." Your doctor will most likely tell you that you should eat the same way everyone else should eat. Eating healthy foods lower in carbohydrates, added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium (salt) will be key to managing your blood sugar.

You can work with a diabetes care and education specialist to make a meal plan that works for you. You can still enjoy many of the foods you love and grew up with and manage your diabetes too. And don't be afraid to try new foods.

For those of you with a sweet tooth, with a little planning ahead, you can still keep dessert on the menu.

Being active helps

One of the best ways to manage diabetes is to get regular physical activity. You don't have to spend hours at the gym or run a marathon to be active. You can start small and take it at your own pace.

Even little changes like taking the stairs instead of the elevator are good ways to get your body moving. Best of all, you don't have to spend money on a gym membership. You can go for a walk, ride a bike, blare your music and dance—all without spending a penny!

Regular physical activity has many other health benefits as well, like better sleep, weight loss, and less stress. It can also improve your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

You're not alone

You're not alone, so don't go it alone—connect with others living with type 2 diabetes. Peer support is important. Whether in person or online, it allows you to connect, share stories, and find resources.

And don't forget, your diabetes health care team is also there to support you. Talk with your health care team about your experiences, concerns, and any questions you may have.

Hoping is coping

Your diabetes diagnosis may come with big life changes. It will take time to figure out everyday diabetes care. Don't lose hope; there are many resources available to help you cope. With the right diabetes management plan, you'll be able to live your best life while successfully managing your diabetes.