Amy Tenderich was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in May of 2003. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Diabetes Mine and co-authored the book Know Your Numbers, Outlive Your Diabetes. You will frequently find her speaking at diabetes, health, and social media events across the country.
If you think about diabetes control as a lifelong struggle stretched out ahead of you, it’s easy to feel defeated before you even start. So take this tip: don’t think long-term!
In the beginning especially, it really is better to focus on the here-and-now. Each day when you wake up, focus only on what’s ahead of you that day and what you can do to ensure a “good diabetes day.”
Small things matter
Will you need to work long hours? Will you be sitting in a car or on an airplane? Or doing an unusual amount of walking? Could you pack some healthy snacks to make sure you eat right? Or pack a travel bag with backup diabetes supplies the night before, including putting your meds in an easy-to-grab container so you don’t forget to take them?
If a whole day even seems like too much to tackle, why not go meal by meal? Just focus on your choices that very moment, without stressing out about what you already ate earlier in the day or what might happen later.
Think of “mistakes” as opportunities to learn. So you ate a whole bagel and your blood sugar shot up to 220? Now you know that probably wasn’t the best choice. Next time you might need more insulin, if you take it, less bagel, and/or more physical activity to offset the blood sugar spike.
A blogger's advice
A couple of years ago, a bunch of diabetes bloggers rallied together for something called “Newly Diagnosed Week.” They all shared their best tips. Some that really stuck with me were from a guy named Jeff Mather:
-“You’re going to make it. Diabetes isn’t exactly easy, but it does become habit. You’ll eventually learn what you need to do from day to day, and you’ll have a support system there for the special situations.”
-“Eventually it won’t be the only thing on your mind. For a couple solid months after my diagnosis, it was all diabetes all the time… Now that I’ve switched treatment plans, diabetes feels much less like a constant burden.”
-“Be aware of the complications, but don’t get fixated. Try your best and remember that you’re in control. Diabetes may not cooperate fully, but ultimately you can make the choices that (mostly) work. Just keep working with your healthcare team, be honest about what works and what doesn’t, and make small changes. Big research studies have shown that if you can do this, you have (very nearly) the same medical risks as people who don’t have diabetes.”