Are You in Diabetes Denial?
Denying you have type 2 diabetes won't make it go away. Here's how to accept your diagnosis, manage your disease, and get on with your life.
The Risk of Denial
Whatever the reason, denying you have type 2 diabetes is a bad idea,
especially if you've been living with the disease and ignoring the
"Many people are walking around without acknowledging they even have the
disease," says Rubin. "It may be seven or eight years before they're
diagnosed only because they're having serious complications."
About a third of people with type 2 diabetes are diagnosed when they show
complications like eye disease and kidney problems, explains Rubin, which
typically don't appear until a person has been living with the disease
untreated for years. In some cases, the serious complication that can indicate
your health is in trouble can be the state of your heart.
"Almost three-quarters of all people with diabetes die of heart attack or stroke," says Rubin. "So
not only do you need to get your diabetes under control, you need to control
your blood pressure and cholesterol as well to manage any
risk for cardiovascular disease."
How can you move from diabetes denial to a healthier way of life? Acceptance
is the first step in the right direction.
Tackling Type 2 Diabetes
"Once you recognize that you have a problem that can be managed, you're
off to a good start," says Breen.
What's next? Well, if you've been living with symptoms that you suspect
might be linked to diabetes, your next stop should be the office of your health
"Because the symptoms of diabetes can go unnoticed -- or ignored -- it's
important that people have regular checkups, which include measuring blood
sugar levels to screen for diabetes," says Rubin.
Armed with the news that you have type 2 diabetes, it's time to start
managing your health. Here are practical tips to getting over your fear of your
newly diagnosed disease:
Make it a group effort. "Use your family for support when you're
first diagnosed," says Rubin. "Help them understand what diabetes is
about and what changes you need to make -- together -- so you can manage the
Moderation is key. "Moderation in all things is one of the rules
I live by," says White, who is living well with type 2 diabetes after 20
years. Instead of asking for a 16-ounce steak at dinner or a pound of
macaroni and wolfing it down in 15 minutes, get a smaller portion and make it
last at least a half-hour. Turn dinner into an experience, he suggests.
Treat yourself to a healthy snack. Instead of three huge meals
throughout the day, which means peaks and valleys for blood sugar levels, White
follows an easy and healthy schedule to keep steady all day long: breakfast,
snack, lunch, snack, dinner, and then a light snack before bed. What's
important when you're making food choices, he says, is to keep it lean and
nutritious. Have a half a turkey sandwich on wheat bread for a snack in the
afternoon, or an apple before bed.