Diagnosed with Diabetes: Where to Start

Type 1 vs Type 2 Diabetes

Type 1 vs. Type 2 Diabetes [Credit: Teabrew] / [Dreamstime]

Diabetes is known as a “silent disease” because many of the signs and symptoms are not noticeable, yet approximately 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year.

If you’re like many who think nothing can be done to change your diagnosis, think again. According to Mark Corriere, M.D., an endocrinologist on staff at HCGH, you are in charge and, through lifestyle changes and education, you can be in control of your diabetes.

Get educated.
Diabetes is a disease where self-management and self-awareness are key. Dr. Corriere tell his patients that “you will have this for the rest of your life, so the more you know about it, the better you can manage it.” Take classes and arm yourself with knowledge. Mike Taylor, RN, MHA, CDE, HCGH diabetes clinical program manager, recommends finding a source you trust and ask questions.

Understand the toll of pounds.
Patients underestimate the impact weight loss can have on diabetes. Just losing 10 percent of your body weight can have a dramatic effect, according to Dr. Corriere. Through diet and exercise, you can gain control of your diabetes.

  • Food – When it comes to food, people need to consider portion size. “Everyone wants to talk about cutting carbs, but in reality, the kind of food we eat is not completely to blame; it is also the portion sizes. Just because something is labeled as healthy does not mean it’s true. Products and branding labels can be misleading; instead, read the ingredient label or eat natural foods. For example, using fat-free ranch salad dressing is like putting fat-free ranch-flavored pancake syrup on your salad,” said Taylor.
  • Exercise – Taylor also cites exercise as being the most important thing you can do, outside of your diet, and is more important than any medication. He recommends moving a minimum of 30 minutes each day, four days a week. “You don’t have to start there, but you should get there,” said Taylor. Learn more about the effects of exercise on diabetes.

Have a positive attitude.
You may have a lot going on in your life, but diabetes does not have to stop you from living your life. You can do this. There is help available to guide you through the process.

Embrace change.
Treating diabetes is more than a diet. You have to maintain a level of dedication. It is a behavior change for life.

Begin now.
How you care for yourself during the first few years following your diagnosis can have a real impact. Taylor recommends being involved in defining your goal with your physician and discussing how you are going to achieve it. According to Dr. Corriere, controlling your diabetes from the beginning can make a difference—especially in reducing long-term complications over your lifetime.

Do you have other helpful tips and resources for our readers? Share them. They’ll be glad you did.

Learn more about the Diabetes Management Program at HCGH and the classes offered.

Mark Corriere, M.D. is an endocrinologist on staff at HCGH and at Maryland Endocrine. To schedule an appointment, call 301-953-2080.
Mike Taylor, RN, MHA, CDE, is HCGH diabetes clinical program manager. To schedule an appointment, call 410-740-7601.