The average person with diabetes spends a mere 63 minutes each year with their doctor. The rest of the time—except for the occasional misguided but well meaning—food police—a person with diabetes is solely responsible for managing their own condition.

Self care

Your continued good health requires you to be proactive about your diabetes. That’s why self-empowerment and knowledge about all aspects of diabetes can be important to your long-term physical and emotional health.

With diabetes there are some general guidelines that include eating right, getting regular physical activity and probably losing a few pounds. But because diabetes is a metabolic disorder, the treatment is individual.

Daily monitoring

Diabetes comes with a host of life-threatening complications such as kidney and heart disease, which can be avoided or minimized if you understand what your risks are for developing them.

"Understanding how specific foods and physical activity affect your blood glucose levels can help you make choices that will help you stay healthier."

To maintain good diabetes control you need to keep your blood glucose levels within the tight range that your doctor provided you. To know if you are accomplishing that on a daily basis, you need to check blood glucose levels regularly and keep track of them either in an old fashioned paper log book or with one of the hundreds of apps available.

More important is that you to understand the context in which you are getting those readings. What happens to your glucose levels if you eat a banana? Cheeseburger? Apple? Do glucose levels go lower if you take a 30-minute walk or a 10-minute bike ride? Understanding how specific foods and physical activity affect your blood glucose levels can help you make choices that will help you stay healthier.

Baby steps

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes means lots of changes in your life: medications, diet, physical activity and more. Good or bad, habits take time to break and make.

Making small incremental changes is a good way to keep you from backsliding. Instead of grabbing a muffin for your mid-morning snack, substitute fruit. Instead of an afternoon snack take a 10-minute walk. If you can do that most days, you are on your way to creating a good new habit.

Physical routines

The good news is you don’t have to be a slave to the gym. Even bursts of activity as short as two minutes at a time can make a difference.

Here’s a few more ideas to make physical activity part of your daily routine: walk or bike to school, work or on local errands; take the stairs instead of the elevator; walk from the back of the parking lot; walk or dance in place or stretch during TV commercial breaks.

People with diabetes are not helpless or hopeless. With proper medical oversight and self-care you can live a full life with diabetes.