Diagnosis is NOT a Death Sentence

The Guide to a Healthy and Happy Life with Type 2 Diabetes

A First Look

The Facts...

Type 2 diabetes is the result of a person's inability to produce enough insulin, or the result of their body rejecting the insulin that is made (the insulin does not fit into cell receptors correctly). Insulin is a hormone that is released from the pancreas when a person's blood glucose level is too high. Glucose is a carbohydrate or sugar that enters the body when foods containing sugar are consumed (the source or energy). Insulin keeps blood glucose levels stable so the body can sustain a homeostasis level. Therefore, a person with Type 2 diabetes must put forth extra effort to attain this homeostasis level.

All diseases can be tough to handle, and doctor visits are scary. However, there are easy ways to blend the annoyance and bother into regular life. This guide is a path to minimizing those doctor visits, getting the right help when necessary, and feeling great.

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Food, Health, and Exercise

What to eat...

Type 2 diabetics must monitor their food intake and exercise amount to ensure that they keep a healthy balance. Certain foods can be detrimental to this balance and should be limited. Such foods are empty carbohydrates, fried or fatty meats, canned, sweetened or syrupy fruit, rich cheese, saturated fat-filled snacks, and sugary or fruity drinks like soda. Instead, Type 2 diabetics should consume whole grains and vegetables (carbohydrates), fresh fruit, meats like fish, beans, nuts, and poultry (grilled), low-fat cheese, baked snacks, and unsweet drinks. For a basis, a 1/2 plate of non-starchy vegetables, a 1/2 plate of lean protein, a 1/4 plate of high-fiber starches, one piece of whole fruit, and 8 ounces of non-fat milk would be a perfect meal for a Type 2 diabetic. Diabetics should also make sure they consume enough vitamins and minerals, and even possibly consider taking a multi-vitamin.

Blood Sugar

It is important for diabetics to monitor their blood glucose (sugar) levels in order to know how much insulin is needed to allow the cells to take in glucose, and therefore, the energy from food. If the levels are too high, the person might need to take some insulin. By taking a reading of blood glucose levels, a diabetic can know exactly how much insulin they need to keep their levels in a homeostasis level. However, those not taking insulin might just need to adjust the food they are eating or exercise. Diabetics should stay on top of this monitoring and should always take the appropriate amount of insulin because failure to do so can result in other health problems. Taking responsibility for blood glucose level adjustment is the first step to a healthy Type 2 diabetic life.


Proper eating and exercise, and monitoring blood sugar levels are some of the best ways to stay healthy with diabetes. However, a doctor might prescribe medication to help with the disease as well. Medication and keeping a healthy weight are also factors that contribute to healthy living. It may sound difficult, but with a schedule and awareness, healthy diabetic living is 100% attainable.

Getting Moving

Just a small amount of exercise every week can improve a diabetic person's health tremendously. Three to four hours a week is the average amount of exercise needed. Something as simple as brisk walking is sufficient, but for those that are impaired or elderly, swimming is a helpful alternative. Three to five sessions of exercise a week are recommended with no more than two days or rest in between. An example of the perfect weekly exercise for a diabetic is 150 minutes of moderate movement or a 90-minute high-intensity workout and strength training three days a week, with three sets of eight to ten repetitions is the perfect weekly exercise for a diabetic. Exercise is extremely important to a healthy life with diabetes. Exercise makes cells more sensitive to insulin, making them more efficient. During exercise, cells use a different mechanism to remove glucose from the blood stream. Besides lowering blood glucose levels, exercise also lowers blood pressure and bad cholesterol and raises good cholesterol, reduces the risk of heart disease (an increased risk with diabetes), burns calories, increases energy (something the body lacks without glucose entrance to cells), and relieves stress (something important to everyone, but particularly beneficial to Type 2 diabetics).


Who to go to...

Endocrinologists: Endocrinologists are specially trained physicians who diagnose diseases related to the glands. In other words, they help people sustain a healthy endocrine system. Since the pancreas is a gland, an endocrinologist could help a Type 2 diabetic determine the severity of their disease and could help them develop a schedule for the future to deal with the disease.

Ophthalmologists: Ophthalmologists are doctors who specialize in the diseases of the eye. It is recommended that diabetics get eye examinations (and pupil dilation) yearly, because it is possible to get diabetic retinopathy. This is caused by damage to the blood vessels that supply the retina of the eye. An ophthalmologist can help detect diabetes. For the already diagnosed, ophthalmologists can help prevent further problems and examine the eye to detect upcoming blindness, a risk for someone who has Type 2 diabetes. Ophthalmologists can be a huge asset to preventing Type 2 diabetes from leading to other problems.

Podiatrists: Podiatrists are physicians who specialize in the ankle and foot. Type 2 diabetics can develop peripheral neuropathy and sensory memory loss, conditions where the diabetic loses feeling in their feet. With the nerve damage that causes this lack of feeling, many diabetics do not sense when they develop ulcers or calluses. Podiatrists can inspect a diabetic's feet and remove any ulcers or calluses that could cause health problems. They can also prescribe products to prevent these ulcers and calluses, helping Type 2 diabetics attain a healthier and less worrisome lifestyle.

Find One Near You

The Life of a Real Type 2 Diabetic

Judi's Experience with Managing Diabetes

When were you diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes?

I was diagnosed before surgery for the removal of an infected cyst on my head which had grown very large (probably due to uncontrolled, undiagnosed diabetes). Pre-operative bloodwork revealed high blood sugar, which postponed the surgery for a week while I used prescribed oral medications to get an aceptable blood sugar reading. I was diagnosed in March, 1993, at the age of 43.

What doctors have helped you and how?

My primary care doctor at the time of diagnosis started me on oral medication which worked for a short time. It was probably 1999 when a subsequent primary care doctor started me on another oral medication, Glucophage. A side affect of that drug caused me to lose 35 pounds, a good thing. In 2012, I began taking insulin under the care of another primary care doctor who also sent me to an all-day training session with a dietitian. This helped me immensely. I was taught that by the time a person is diagnosed, their pancreas has probably already lost half its ability to process food, and that ability decreases with time. That's why oral medicines work for a while and then insulin is needed by most diabetics.

How do you modify/manage your diet to control your health?

It's very important to check my blood sugar reading at least daily. I generally do this each morning. I also check it in the evening periodically but not often enough. When the readings are consistantly in the normal range (80-120), I don't worry. If I get one that is high, I try to figure out what caused it and correct my food intake. Lately, frequent low nighttime blood sugar readings (as low as 54) resulted in my present primary care doctor admonishing me to be vigilant about a having a late night snack (9-10pm). My doctor told me only to modify my insulin myself in increments of two units and notify her of persistant problems. Eating a diet that limits carbohydrates is essential, as well as watching the intake of sugars and fat. Lean meats and simple vegetables and fruit are diet staples. I don't measure anymore. I can usually tell when a serving is a half cup or three ounces of meat, because I've been doing it so long.

What daily activities/lifestyle choices do you feel help the most with your condition?

It's important to maintain a daily schedule. When you are on insulin, your body begins to expect it at a certain time. If I take my sugar reading, and it's normal, I take my insulin 20 minutes before I eat (unless I'm really hungry). You don't want to chase your food with insulin but rather, stay ahead of it. Small portions, small meals, and mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks keep fuel in your body while controlling sugar spikes. Exercise is equally important to managing my health and helps control blood sugar. I ride a stationary bike and exercise with a theraband for an upper body workout. I have foot issues that prevent me from using a treadmill, or I would do that, too.

What word of advice would you give to a newly diagnosed diabetic?

My advice to a newly diagnosed diabetic is to check your sugar every morning and evening before mealtime and keep a record of the readings. Unexplained, persistant high sugar readings may signal an infection. Never delay getting an infection checked. Check your feet every day, and see your doctor about anything out of the ordinary. Ulcers are a big danger.

Health Today

Brought to you by the director of Health Today, Morgan Ezell

For more information...


American Diabetes Association. (2013, December 17). Physical Activity is Important: American Diabetes Association®. Retrieved from http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/fitness/physical-activity-is-important.html

Dinsmoor, R. S. (2013, July 25). Ophthalmologist (Page 1) :: Diabetes Self-Management. Retrieved from http://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/Articles/Diabetes-Definitions/ophthalmologist/

HealthCentral. (2011, May 8). Recommended Exercise Methods. Retrieved from http://www.healthcentral.com/diabetes/exercise-000029_2-145_2.html

HealthCentral. (2011, May 8). The Effects of exercise on Diabetes. Retrieved from http://www.healthcentral.com/diet-exercise/exercise-000029_4-145.html?ic=506019

Hormone Health Network. (n.d.). What is an Endocrinologist | Hormone Health Network. Retrieved from http://www.hormone.org/contact-a-health-professional/what-is-an-endocrinologist

Merendino, MD, J. (n.d.). How does a podiatrist or foot doctor help people with diabetes? - Corns, Calluses & Bunions - Sharecare. Retrieved from http://www.sharecare.com/health/corns-calluses-and-bunions/podiatrist-foot-doctor-help-people-diabetes

NewsCore. (2012, January 6). Treat Type 2 Diabetes With Healthy Lifestyle Choices, Medication | Fox News. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/02/21/treat-type-2-diabetes-with-healthy-lifestyle-choices-medication/

WebMD. (2014, September 5). Diabetic Food List: Best and Worst Choices. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/diabetic-food-list-best-worst-foods?page=2

WebMD. (2014, May 10). Type 2 Diabetes: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, and More. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/type-2-diabetes