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Type 2 Treatments: Diabetes Medications, Exercise, and Eating Well

With type 2 diabetes, it's all about managing your blood glucose levels. You want to keep them in the goal ranges set by your healthcare professional (HCP) so that you can prevent long-term complications from type 2 diabetes (such as diabetic neuropathy or diabetic retinopathy). Watching what and how much you eat, exercising, monitoring your blood glucose, and taking diabetes medications (if necessary) will help you control your blood glucose levels.

Monitoring Blood Glucose Levels
The only way to know if you are meeting your blood glucose goals is to monitor your blood glucose levels throughout the day. Your HCP will give you your blood glucose goal ranges, and checking your blood glucose will enable you and your HCP to know if your type 2 diabetes treatment plan is working well.

Your HCP will set-up a blood glucose monitoring schedule for you, but in general, people with type 2 diabetes monitor their blood glucose a couple of times a day.

You can use a glucose meter to check your blood glucose level. This small diabetes device uses a small amount of blood to test how much glucose is in the blood. Your diabetes treatment team will fully explain how to use this.

It's a very smart idea to keep a log of your blood glucose numbers. This log will give a snapshot of your blood glucose control, and based on these numbers and your experience, your HCP may adjust your treatment plan.

The log is also beneficial to you: as you live with diabetes, you'll learn how different activities, food, medications, and daily events that affect your blood glucose levels. With the log, you'll be able to track patterns and take better care of yourself and your diabetes.

Eating Well
You've probably heard the phrase before: the diabetic diet. And you may even have negative associations with that phrase, thinking that you have to eat bland food and avoid all carbs and sugar.

Well, that's just not true: you can eat well with type 2 diabetes, that doesn't mean eating a boring diet, by making some meal plan changes.

You may need to adjust what you eat and how much you eat in order to better maintain your blood glucose levels. Working with a registered dietitian (RD) who is a certified diabetes educator (CDE) is an excellent way to develop a diabetes meal plan.

An RD CDE can work with you to learn how to count carbs, understand and use portion size to reduce intake, and limit your caloric intake—all important steps when living with type 2 diabetes.

For ideas of what you can cook, visit our Diabetic Recipes Center.

Exercise
Exercise—regular physical activity—is important to anyone, regardless of if you have type 2 diabetes.

But for people with type 2 diabetes, there are added benefits of being physically active:

  • Exercise helps you control your weight.
  • Exercise helps your body use insulin better, meaning that you can better control your blood glucose levels.
  • Exercise helps prevent long-term complications of type 2 diabetes, such as cardiovascular problems.

To get ideas on types of exercise, you can visit our Exercise Center.

Diabetes Medications
Some people with type 2 diabetes need medications to help them control their blood glucose levels. This doesn't in any way replace eating well and exercising; medications can be used in addition to those healthy lifestyle choices as a way to better manage type 2 diabetes.

There are many types of diabetes medications used to treat type 2 diabetes. All work to better control your blood glucose levels. Your HCP will explain your diabetes medication options and make the best recommendation for the type you should be using.

Insulin for People with Type 2 Diabetes
Although injecting insulin is a treatment option normally associated with type 1 diabetes, some people with type 2 diabetes may need to use insulin. If you have trouble controlling your blood glucose levels with meal plan changes, exercise, and medications, then your HCP may suggest insulin.

When your HCP suggests insulin, it's not because you have "failed" at managing your diabetes through lifestyle changes.

Some people think this, which is why we think it's important to stress that. Effectively managing diabetes throughout your life can be challenging, and some people with type 2 diabetes need insulin to help them—and that's all right. It's simply another treatment option for type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes Treatments: Lifestyle Changes and Medications
By making some lifestyle adjustments—watching more closely what you eat and exercising more consistently—you can help control your type 2 diabetes. Some people will need to take type 2 diabetes medications or insulin to effectively manage their blood glucose levels.

First published on: April 21, 2011
Updated on: January 21, 2015
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