New to diabetes? Here’s what you need to know

Tips for taking care of yourself, when to see the doctor and more, for patients who just got diagnosed with diabetes

“I just got diagnosed with diabetes. Now what?” Or maybe you’re trying to manage diabetes during these uncertain times when it can feel risky to go out of your self-isolation/quarantine bubble. Know that diagnosis is the first step. Your provider and even a team of diabetes educators are available to you for support. Your provider will give guidance on a follow-up appointment. Some patients start medication right away, others will create a plan with their provider for adjustments to diet, exercise and lifestyle until the next lab or follow-up appointment. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Managing diabetes with diet

Diabetes — put very simply — is too much sugar in the blood. So it is no surprise that the foods you eat have an enormous effect on diabetes symptoms. The medical provider who diagnosed your diabetes can help you create a plan for your diet, or they can refer you to someone who can. The primary concern should be a mix of good fats, protein and fiber, and cutting out processed sugars.

“You don’t have to cut out carbohydrates completely,” said Crystal Narcisse, M.D., internal medicine/pediatrics physician with Norton Community Medical Associates – Hurstbourne.

One way to address this is to eat vegetables, lean proteins and low-fat foods, and cut out processed and refined foods.

Need diabetes care support?

While your diabetes journey likely will begin with your primary care provider, you also may choose to see an endocrinologist for specialized care.

Schedule a primary care appointment

Schedule an endocrinology appointment

Exercise and diabetes

Physical movement absolutely can help keep your blood sugar low and your body healthy. It may sound intimidating at first if you haven’t been active, but the key is small steps and finding something you like.

“You don’t have to join a gym,” Dr. Narcisse said. “You can walk in your neighborhood. Do videos online in your home. Or team up with a friend.”

If you have limited mobility, there are also videos of chair exercises you can do at home.

Your goal should be 20 to 25 minutes a day, and two or more days of strength training. Talk over your exercise plan with your health care provider or diabetes educator.

How often should I see a doctor if I have diabetes?

“We recommend diabetic patients come in at least twice a year,” Dr. Narcisse said, “even if you feel fine and don’t think you need to come in.”

Your provider will recommend next steps for follow-up care and repeat labs. If you can’t come in person, ask your provider about telehealth options for you — a visit online or over the phone, or a drive-up visit for labs.

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