I’ve Been Diagnosed with Diabetes, What Should I Do?

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Being diagnosed with diabetes can be scary and confusing. The good news is there are many tools and resources you can use to help you learn about diabetes and live well.

What should I eat? 

Learning about healthy eating and diabetes will take some time. The good news is there is a lot of support and information available. Use the advice in Canada’s Food Guide to get started. At meals, aim to fill half your plate with a variety of vegetables and fruit, a quarter of your plate with whole grains and a quarter with protein foods. Limit foods high in fat, sugar and salt. It is recommended that you work with a  dietitian to give you trusted nutrition advice tailored to your needs and personal circumstances. A dietitian will give you specific advice on what foods to eat, how much to eat and how to read labels to help manage your diabetes.
Need healthy meal and snack ideas? Try out one of these Healthy Diabetes Recipe Booklets designed for South Asian, Chinese, Caribbean or Latin American tastes.
Interested in learning more about the Glycemic Index? Read our article.

Should I be physically active? 

Yes. Try to be active for at least 150 minutes per week. That’s about 30 minutes a day on five days of the week. Choose activities you enjoy and ones you can do together as a family. Spending less time sitting and sleeping well are also important. If you are new to physical activity, speak to your health care provider before getting started. For more tips read this article.

Should I monitor my blood glucose levels? 

Monitoring your blood glucose can help you and your health care team evaluate how your diabetes treatment plan is working. For example, you will be able to see how different foods and meals impact your blood sugar levels. Speak to your dietitian or health care provider to see if you need to test your blood glucose levels at home. If you do need to test, they can tell you how to get a blood glucose meter and how often to test. It is important to monitor your blood glucose according to the advice from your health care team.  

What else should I monitor?

You should visit your doctor regularly to monitor your A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol. A1C is a blood test that shows how well your blood glucose levels are being managed over a long-term period.  Because diabetes can affect other parts of your body, it is also important to get your feet, eyes and kidneys checked as well. You can work with your health care team to determine which tests you need, and how often you need them.

Do I need to take medication? 

Even if you eat well and are physically active, you may still need medication to keep your blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure at healthy levels. Follow your health care provider’s instructions about when and how to take all your medications. If you have side effects, speak to your diabetes care team.

What else can I do to help manage diabetes? 

If you smoke, try to quit. Talk to your doctor or diabetes care team if you need help to quit smoking. You can also call the Smoker’s Helpline at 1-877-513-5333.

How can a dietitian help?

A dietitian is an important part of your diabetes care team. They will work with you to develop a personalized meal plan to help manage your blood sugars that includes the right amount of carbohydrates for you. They will also help you make heart healthy food choices like those higher in fibre and lower in saturated fat. Connect with a dietitian today!

Bottom line

Managing diabetes is about eating well, moving more, monitoring your health and taking prescribed medications. Work with your dietitian and diabetes care team to manage your diabetes.  

You may also be interested in: 

Diabetes Glossary
Diabetes, Sugar and Sweet Foods
Diabetes and the Health Benefits of Fibre
This article was written and reviewed by dietitians from Dietitians of Canada. The advice in this article is intended as general information and should not replace advice given by your dietitian or healthcare provider.

Last Update – January 14, 2023

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