Managing Diabetes

Managing Diabetes

Managing Diabetes
Managing Diabetes
Managing Diabetes

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While there is no cure for diabetes, many treatments are available to help control blood glucose levels. For type 2 diabetes, a healthy lifestyle also plays a significant role in managing blood glucose levels and lowering the risk of complications.1 In this article, we take a top-line look at how type 2 diabetes is managed.

The aim of diabetes management

Diabetes management aims to keep blood glucose levels as close to your ‘target’ range possible. Your healthcare professional will discuss your personalized target blood glucose range with you – this may differ from the target range of other people you know with diabetes.2,3 Maintaining blood glucose levels within the target range generally requires a combination of lifestyle changes and medication.

Lifestyle changes for diabetes

Lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet, regular exercise, and stopping smoking, are important for every person with diabetes.1 For some people with type 2 diabetes, lifestyle changes may be all they need to manage their blood glucose levels, at least for a while.2

So how do lifestyle changes help with diabetes?

  • Healthy eating helps manage blood glucose levels and body weight.2 Exercising helps insulin work more effectively, lowers blood pressure, and reduces the risk of heart disease.2
  • Stopping smoking can significantly improve the health of anyone who smokes. But did you know that smoking can increase blood glucose levels and make it harder to manage diabetes?4
    Smoking also increases the already higher risk of heart attack and stroke in people with diabetes.4

Medication for diabetes

For most people with diabetes, healthy eating and exercise alone are not enough to keep the blood glucose levels down, especially as the condition progresses with time.2 If lifestyle changes are not enough, your healthcare professional will prescribe medication to manage your blood glucose levels and help prevent complications.2 Many different types of medications are available to help manage diabetes. Your healthcare professional will prescribe the most appropriate medication (or combination of medications) for you. 

Lifestyle and medication work together

Taking medication for diabetes does not mean we no longer need to create a healthy lifestyle. In fact, healthy lifestyle habits should be used alongside any medication to help achieve the best results in managing blood glucose and lowering the risk of complications.

Diabetes management plans

A diabetes management plan is a personalized care plan for your diabetes, involving all healthcare team members. Every person with diabetes should develop a diabetes management plan with their healthcare professional.
A diabetes management plan includes your target blood glucose range and your medication and lifestyle changes (including diet and exercise). Your management plan should be reviewed and updated regularly.

How do I know if my diabetes management is working?

Your healthcare professional will monitor your blood glucose levels at regular check-ups to ensure your diabetes management plan is working for you. If a treatment isn’t working for you or you are experiencing side effects, your healthcare professional can advise on alternative options and update your management plan.
Outside of the clinic check-ups, you can also check your own blood glucose levels regularly at home using a small, handheld device. Checking your glucose levels (self-monitoring) can help manage your diabetes, as it will help you see the effect of various foods, exercise, and medications on your blood glucose levels.3 Your healthcare team can advise you on how to get a glucose monitor and how to use it to help you manage your blood glucose.

Your diabetes healthcare team

Diabetes is best managed with the support of your healthcare team.5 Many people can be part of your team to help you live well with diabetes, including health professionals, family, and friends.

The following are the kinds of people you may include. Talk to your doctor about what is suitable for you.

  • Family doctor/GP – Your GP will play a central role in assessing your diabetes and helping you manage it. They can also refer you to any specialists that you may need.
  • Dietitian – A dietitian will work with you to develop a personalized healthy eating plan to suit your lifestyle, type of diabetes, and individual health needs.
  • Endocrinologist – An endocrinologist can help treat complex diabetes-related conditions and involve many systems within the body. Your GP can refer you.
  • Family and friends – Those closest to you can provide day-to-day support in managing your emotional health, physical health, and motivation for diabetes self-management.

What to expect during your diabetes check-up

Diabetes changes over time and what works for you now may not work for you in a year.

The Annual Cycle of Care is a checklist designed to help you and your healthcare team keep your diabetes on track.6

The Annual Cycle of Care includes checks of your:7

  • HbA1c
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Weight, waist and body mass index
  • Feet
  • Eyes
  • Kidneys
  • Medication
  • Diabetes Management
  • Lifestyle - Diet and physical activity
  • Emotional Health

Regular health checks help prevent diabetes-related complications, which may involve your kidneys, eyes, feet, nerves, and heart.

The Cycle of Care Checklist6

Daily self-checks

Foot check—look for signs of infection, swelling, redness, or skin breaks.

3–6 months

Foot assessment (high-risk feet)—with a podiatrist, doctor, or diabetes educator

6–12 months

Blood pressure—with a doctor or practice nurse

HbA1c—with the doctor

12 months

Foot assessment (low-risk feet)—with a podiatrist, doctor, or diabetes educator

Kidney health—with a doctor or endocrinologist

Blood fats (cholesterol and triglycerides)—with the doctor

Medication review—with the doctor

Dental check—with the dentist

2 years

Eye examination—with a doctor, optometrist, or ophthalmologist

When indicated

Driver’s license assessment—with doctor

Think a diabetes diagnosis will set you back? Think again.

These Hollywood stars prove that diabetes doesn’t have to get in the way of a blockbuster life.

Tom Hanks
Known for his roles in Forrest Gump, Castaway, and Big, America’s favorite actor announced he had type 2 diabetes in an interview with David Letterman back in 2013.

Nick Jonas
From teen heartthrob to seasoned actor, Nick Jonas of The Jonas Brothers was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after experiencing weight loss and excessive thirst in his early 20s.

Halle Berry
More than just a Bond Girl, Halle Berry won an Oscar for Best Actress for her dramatic performance in Monster's Ball. Her secret to staying healthy and in control of her diabetes? A carefully curated, nutritious diet (and no doubt a personal chef!).

Why not do a quick Google search to see which other celebrities have diabetes – trust us, there are more than you’d think…

Diabetes management tips

●   The Power of Positive Thinking

Think about your best life with diabetes rather than focusing on the negative. Spend more time with people you enjoy and do the things that make you happy. While you can’t always do what you want every day, set aside time to do the things you love, making a living with diabetes much more tolerable.

●   Small Steps Add Up to Big Accomplishments

Try to replace high-carb snack foods with nuts or veggies and keep less-healthy choices on a higher shelf where they are hard to reach. But, of course, it also helps when you don’t see them every time you open the cabinet!

●   Find Support

It’s not that you want to burden others with your diabetes. But when you find someone willing to encourage you and maybe even help you make positive adjustments, it’s a game-changer.

●   Set Goals

Set short- and long-term goals. Most important, set goals that are achievable, realistic, and timely.

●   Acceptance is the First Step

When you first learn that you have diabetes, it’s easy to be in denial. However, when making a living, you finally accept it, you may be able to take steps to manage it and stop letting it overtake you.

●   Take it One Day at a Time

Try breaking diabetes into small pieces. For instance, take it one meal or snack at a time. It simplifies the disease and doesn’t make it seem overwhelming. And, don’t beat yourself up if you stray from your planned meals, snacks, and physical activity. That happens to everyone.

●   Be Grateful

Consider writing in a “gratitude” journal every day. You may be grateful for family, friends, and the ability to communicate with your health care team via technology. You may be thankful for your walking buddy, who encourages you to keep going even when it’s drizzling outside! Or, you may be grateful for your friends in the diabetes community who encourage you to keep going every day and take your medication as prescribed.

1 Better Health Channel. Diabetes. Available at:

2 Diabetes Australia. Managing type 2 diabetes. Available at:

3 National Diabetes Services Scheme. Blood glucose monitoring. Available at:

4 Diabetes Australia. Smoking, pre-diabetes and diabetes. Available at:

5 Diabetes Australia. Health Care Team. Available at:

6 National Diabetes Services Scheme. Diabetes health checks. Available at:

7 National Diabetes Services Scheme. Your diabetes annual cycle of care fact sheet. Available at:

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