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How to Manage Type 2 Diabetes

JANUARY 11, 2016


Making smart, healthy choices every day is crucial to managing type 2 diabetes.

Managing type 2 diabetes involves many decisions — what to eat, when to eat, how and when to be physically active, when to take medications, and when to monitor blood sugar levels, to name just a few.

The American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) has organized the major components of diabetes management into a framework called the “AADE7 Self-Care Behaviors.” This framework is helpful for remembering all of the necessary tasks and how to properly carry them out.

Healthy Eating

Making good food choices is one of the most important parts of managing type 2 diabetes — and it’s often one of the hardest. What you eat (and how much you eat) has an effect on your weight and blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol levels.

Here are some tips to help you figure out what and how much to eat:

  • Work with a registered dietitian to design a meal plan that takes your needs and preferences into consideration.
  • Check your blood sugar level before a meal and again two hours after it to see what effect the meal had on your blood sugar.

Being Active

Finding the time and motivation to be physically active is a challenge for many people. But it’s essential for optimal type 2 diabetes management.

How can you succeed at being physically active?

  • Set SMART goals for activity — goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based, or grounded within a time frame.
  • Remember that any movement is better than none, and that you need to build up the intensity and duration of your activity gradually.


Monitoring your type 2 diabetes includes blood sugar monitoring as well as monitoring your weight and, for some people, your blood pressure, using a home monitor.

For the best results:

  • Have your doctor or diabetes educator show you how to use your blood sugar meter and blood pressure monitor. Patients on insulin, in particular, need to monitor their blood sugar daily.
  • Write down your monitoring results and bring them to your diabetes care visits. Discuss any patterns you’ve observed with your healthcare provider.

Taking Medication

Most people with type 2 diabetes take at least one medication, and many take several pills and/or injections per day.

To make sure you stay on track with your medications:

  • Enlist the help of your pharmacist when you have questions about your medications or trouble taking them.
  • If you often forget to take your pills, try using a weekly pill box, marked with the days of the week.

Problem Solving

Diabetes, like life, is unpredictable, and sometimes you have to think on your feet. How can you be more prepared to respond when the unexpected happens?

  • Take a diabetes education class to learn the basics. Many hospital diabetes programs offer them for free.
  • Talk to your health-care provider about what to do when you’re sick, when you’re traveling, or any other time your routine is different from usual.

Reducing Risks

Reducing risks means nixing any behaviors with negative health consequences (such as smoking).

It also includes having age-appropriate health screenings (such as cancer screenings and immunizations) and recommended screening tests for diabetes complications, including:

  • An annual dilated eye exam to check for diabetic retinopathy (eye disease)
  • An annual microalbuminuria test to check for kidney disease
  • Daily self-performed foot exams to check for breaks in the skin or anything else that looks or feels unusual
  • An annual foot exam by your doctor to check for any diabetes-related complications

Healthy Coping

Living with diabetes is challenging and sometimes stressful. In fact, many people report becoming frustrated, angry, overwhelmed, and discouraged when trying to perform all of the self-care tasks their healthcare providers set out for them.

That’s why learning healthy coping techniques is so important when you have type 2 diabetes.

  • Participate in online or in-person support groups.
  • Practice a relaxation technique, such as meditating or using guided imagery.
  • Speak to a mental healthcare professional if self-help efforts aren’t helpful.
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Comments 1

  1. Pete says:

    Such an amazing article you got here. Thank you for this great information

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