How to Cope With Diabetes With Your Family

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Receiving a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes can be quite shocking. You might find yourself feeling depressed or perhaps even in denial. And although you're the one who's received this diagnosis, it changes things for your family too. To manage this disease properly, it will be important for your family to be supportive, understanding, and educated on the subject. In some situations, family members may even need to take charge of a loved one's diagnosis. Needless to say, it can be a life-changing event for everyone.

But, it can also be an opportunity to take positive strides at adopting a healthy lifestyle and ultimately change the lives of close family members like spouses, siblings, and children. This is important because Type 2 diabetes tends to run in families. In fact, The American Diabetes Association says that Type 2 diabetes has a stronger link to family history and lineage than Type 1. And, while having a family history is a significant risk factor, lifestyle is also a major contributing factor. Being obese or sedentary can increase your risk of developing diabetes.

If you have a family history of obesity, chances are you will have similar eating and exercise patterns as your family members. Seize this time to make healthy lifestyle changes, create awareness and educate yourself and your family. It will ease the blow, help you to cope and possibly even protect your family from developing prediabetes or diabetes in the future.

Meet With a Certified Diabetes Educator

A Certified Diabetes Educator is a health professional that specializes in the care and management of diabetes. Request that your family members come to this visit with you. You'll learn about blood sugar monitoring and management, medications, meal planning, exercise, when to visit specialists, tips for weight loss and so much more.

Adopt a Healthy Eating Plan for the Whole Family

Now that you've been diagnosed with diabetes, that doesn't mean your spouse must cook two separate meals. A "diabetes diet" is a healthy, well-balanced diet that is good for everyone to follow. It should be rich in fiber, modified in carbohydrates, and adequate in lean protein, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables. Avoiding simple or refined carbohydrates and choosing complex ones, such as whole grains, is also of value to the whole family. Start slowly and make changes gradually. Learn about carbohydrates (the nutrient that impacts blood sugar the most), and get some good resources for recipes and meal planning. Stock up on essentials and plan out snacks.

Get Off the Couch Together

Kick the late night eating habit by going for a family walk after dinner or playing a game of Wii Fit. Whatever type of physical activity that you're most likely to stick to and have fun doing is one you should start. Exercise helps to improve insulin sensitivity (which can lower blood sugar), burn calories, increase energy, and strengthen bones. For family members at risk of developing diabetes, this is important. In fact, The American Diabetes Association Standards of Care reports that the primary prevention of diabetes is to lose about 7% of your body weight with diet and regular physical activity about 150/minutes per week. ​Regular exercise can also improve blood sugar control for weight loss and improve insulin sensitivity.

Count on Reliable Resources That Provide Accurate Information

Make sure the information that you are reading about diabetes comes from a reliable and credible source. Avoid listening to your neighbors or other know-it-all's who claim to know all the foods you can and cannot eat. Instead, stock up on credible resources from licensed professionals. Here are a few:

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Article Sources

  • American Diabetes Association. Genetics of Diabetes.
  • American Diabetes Association. Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes – 2014. Diabetes Care. 2014 Jan; 37 Suppl 1: S14-80.