In our opinion, the best diabetes advice doesn’t come from doctors and medical authorities — it comes from the people actually living with the condition. We always put a ton of weight on the experience and wisdom of the diabetes community. The Diabetes Daily forum is an outstanding place to meet and chat with practical experts. No matter what you’re going through, someone’s been there before and is ready to help.
On the Diabetes Daily Facebook page, we asked our readers the following question:
What is one piece of advice that you’ve received that changed how you view your diabetes?
Here were the most popular answers:
“Don’t deny yourself. Moderation is the key.”
“Attitude: If you want a piece of pie, have a piece of pie. Just don’t eat the whole pie and don’t do it every day.”
There’s a theory out there that we are all naturally either abstainers or moderators. Moderators thrive when they allow themselves small amounts of vices — whether that’s pie, pizza, ice cream, alcohol, or anything else that we humans tend to get carried away with.
Plenty of people with diabetes find success with moderation. Do you find the thought of denying yourself sugar, starches, or other less-healthy treats just too horrible to consider? Can you satisfy that sweet tooth with just a few bites? You might be a moderator.
By contrast, our community also has some abstainers, who are all-or-nothing. They find it much easier to go 100 percent without something than 99 percent. You’re the only person who knows which approach will work best for you.
“Don’t listen to what other people are saying about you. You can still do whatever you want to do.”
“What works for others may not work for you.”
“Not everybody’s diabetes is the same, take care of yourself.”
Several voices emphasized how important it is to be confident in your self-management. Find what works for you and stick with it.
If you spend much time in the diabetes online community, you know that it can get easy to feel discouraged. Facebook and Instagram are full of people with diabetes showing off their great blood sugars, healthy lunches, and gym sessions, and it’s natural to feel jealous. Some of these personalities and influencers might think they’ve got it all figured out — but their solutions might not work for you.
We can use the success of others as inspiration if we want to, but sometimes it might be wiser to just tune out other people and focus on your problems.
“It’s about participation, not perfection.”
“Blood sugar numbers are not good or bad, it’s a number to help you decide how to treat.”
“It’s not what you achieve, it’s what you overcome.”
Sometimes focusing on “optimal” treatment can be overwhelming. Diabetes management perfection isn’t easy to pull off. And few of us have the time or money to live optimally at all times.
If you set unrealistic expectations and fail to meet them, it can easily spiral into diabetes distress and burnout. Many of our readers try to take a more mindful approach, committing to the process instead of the results, and celebrating little victories along the way.
“Get the best doctor you can find.”
We’ve got all the sympathy in the world for the doctors and clinicians that treat diabetes, but the fact is that some are better than others. Diabetes doctors are badly overworked and too many patients are not getting the best treatments available because they’re mired in “therapeutic inertia.”
Many members of the Diabetes Daily community have had to go “shopping” for the right clinician — at least to the extent that their health insurance has allowed them to. And maybe your ideal healthcare provider isn’t a doctor or an endocrinologist, maybe it’s a nurse practitioner. Maybe what you really need is a certified diabetes educator or diabetes coach to help you with your daily management.
Having an expert that really understands your concerns and makes the right suggestions can make a huge difference.
“Find a doctor who promotes self-management.”
We here at Diabetes Daily are big advocates of self-management, and we hope that readers can feel empowered to adjust their own diabetes management style. The best way to thrive with diabetes is to make yourself the world expert on your own condition.
Not everyone feels comfortable self-managing. Some readers, for example, prefer to follow doctor’s orders to the letter between visits. Others take the opposite approach and try to manage their own conditions to the greatest extent possible. These are the patients that don’t wait for a doctor to tell them to adjust their basal insulin level, and the ones that ask targeted questions about advanced diabetes medications and technologies.
If you’re ready to take charge of your diabetes management, the best possible way to do it is to find a doctor who can help you on your journey.
“Get a CGM!”
The Diabetes Daily community is unanimous: Everyone with diabetes should have a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). The CGM is a quantum leap beyond fingersticks and offers the best possible way to understand your condition. The technology is extraordinarily useful for people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, offering not just alarms for low and high blood sugars, but an unmatched opportunity to learn how your lifestyle decisions affect your glycemic level.
“Eat healthy, and no artificial stuff. Best advice ever.”
“Watch your carbs and walk when you can.”
It would be tough to pack more diabetes wisdom into two short sentences:
Get up off the couch: Even low-impact exercise like walking can have huge metabolic benefits.
Avoid artificial foods. If there’s exactly one piece of dieting advice that everyone in the diabetes world agrees on, it’s that whole and minimally processed foods are healthier than ultraprocessed packaged foods, which also tend to pack in a ton of sugar, starch, fat, and sodium.
Keep aware of your carbohydrate intake — or, as another reader put it, “Watch them carbs.” No food spikes your glucose levels more quickly, and no eating pattern beats the low-carb diet for glycemic control. And if you use insulin for your meals, you should be critically aware of every carbohydrate that you put in your belly.
“This is a serious disease; it can cause a lot of problems for you if you don’t eat right and exercise. It can kill you.”
“You have this disease for life. You can let it control you or you can control it. So, you can grow up and look after yourself and your diabetes, or you can get complications and die.”
Fear can be a powerful motivator too.
Many people in our community don’t like to dwell on the scary long-term effects of diabetes, and most professional writing on diabetes tends to accentuate the positive.
But these uncompromising comments got a lot of “likes” for a reason. There’s no denying that diabetes is a serious illness with potentially serious consequences. Some people with diabetes find motivation by keeping the misery of diabetes complications at the front of their minds. And some prefer to imagine diabetes management as an opportunity for mastery or domination, a battle that we will either win or lose.
Should you approach diabetes like a warrior? It’s up to you.
Go out and live your life like a normal person … don’t miss out on adventures because you have diabetes.
Diabetes stinks, but it’s manageable. People with diabetes can accomplish extraordinary things. If there’s one tip we all agreed on, it’s that you should do everything you can to live a happy, vibrant life.