Your Guide to Telehealth for Diabetes

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Type 2 Diabetes: 8 Tips for Making Lifestyle Changes That Last

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    Lifestyle Changes for Diabetes
    Whether you’ve just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or you’ve lived with the condition for years, you may already realize that certain lifestyle changes can help you stay healthier and live better. But making lasting lifestyle changes can be difficult, and you may be concerned about easily falling back into old routines. By focusing on your overall wellness goals, and following a few simple tips, you can successfully manage living with diabetes.

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    1. Identify short- and long-term goals.
    Before making changes to your lifestyle, it’s helpful to identify short-term and long-term goals. These goals can be directly related to diabetes, such as maintaining better blood sugar levels over the course of a week. Or, you may identify broader health goals that will take some time to achieve, such as losing a significant amount of weight. Keep a journal and put these goals in writing to maintain focus. No matter what lifestyle changes you try, you’ll be more successful if your goals are important to you.

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    2. Start small.
    It may be tempting to try to change your lifestyle all at once, but this method usually sets a person up for failure. Instead, start small with one or two changes at a time. For example, if you want to adopt healthier eating habits, try replacing something you’d normally eat with an extra serving of vegetables. Over time, you can add more healthy food options to your regular meal routine. Breaking things up into smaller, less intimidating tasks can add up to a big reward over time.

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    3. Create a routine.
    Creating a routine can be essential for changing your behaviors for the better. Say you want to exercise more. Instead of just telling yourself that you will exercise more regularly, actually plan out your day by choosing a time, location, and type of exercise you’ll try. It can also be very helpful to write out your daily routine, especially when you first start. Having a visual representation of your day can better help you achieve your goals.

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    4. Measure your progress.
    Evidence of the changes you’re trying to accomplish can be great motivation for sticking with healthy lifestyle changes for diabetes. If you’re trying to lose weight, weigh yourself at least once a week. Alternatively, writing down everything you eat can help you reflect on which healthy foods are more pleasing to your palate, making you more likely to eat them again. Regardless of your goals, measuring your progress shows you just how far you’ve come toward making lasting change.

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    5. Be realistic.
    It’s also important to be realistic about living with diabetes and how that may impact your ability to achieve your goals. For instance, you may decide you’d like to run a marathon—but keep in mind that blood sugar levels fluctuate during exercise, and you may not be able to exert yourself to that extent. Also, setting unrealistic goals may make you more disappointed if you don’t achieve them easily, and that can put you in danger of quitting.

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    6. Ask for support.
    Making lifestyle changes for diabetes can be difficult, and sometimes it’s helpful to work with professionals who support you in your efforts. If you feel like you’re hitting a wall and just can’t make lasting change, try talking it over with your doctor, a therapist, or other healthcare professional. Ask your doctor if telehealth can help you stay on track, since it allows you to connect with your doctor from the convenience of your home. Getting the support and advice you need can help you reevaluate your personal goals, set new, more achievable goals for yourself, and make sustainable changes over time.

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    7. Involve a loved one.
    It can also be extremely helpful to involve loved ones in your efforts to make healthy lifestyle changes. Ask a friend to go to the gym with you, or involve your family in cooking healthy meals at home. Being able to share your struggles and successes with the people who matter most to you can be a great source of inspiration and motivation. Plus, it helps keep you accountable as you create a healthier new routine.

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    8. Celebrate your success.
    When you hit a goal, no matter what it is, take time to celebrate! It takes a great deal of effort and personal strength to make lasting changes that make living with diabetes easier. Being mindful of your victories, even the small ones, can help boost your self-esteem and give you the drive you need to continue to be successful. Just be sure that any way you celebrate falls in line with the lifestyle changes you’re creating.

Lifestyle Changes for Diabetes | Type 2 Diabetes

About The Author

Sarah Handzel began writing professionally in 2016. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and worked as a registered nurse in multiple specialties, including pharmaceuticals, operating room/surgery, endocrinology, and family practice. With over nine years of clinical practice experience, Sarah has worked with clients including Healthgrades, Mayo Clinic, Aha Media Group, Wolters Kluwer, and UVA Cancer Center.
  1. Diabetes management: How lifestyle, daily routine affect blood sugar. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/diabetes-management/art-20047963
  2. Making lifestyle changes that last. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/topics/lifestyle-changes
  3. The trick to real and lasting lifestyle changes. Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/the-trick-to-real-and-lasting-lifestyle-changes
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Last Review Date: 2020 Jul 22
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