A diagnosis of diabetes is a life-changing event. No doubt your healthcare provider has told you that living with diabetes will require some adjustments on your part, and you may be feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about what this diagnosis means for you.

Rest assured, you are not alone. Millions of Americans have diabetes, and many of them lead long, healthy, and active lives. Learning about diabetes, adopting a healthy diet, exercising, and taking the medicine that has been prescribed for you are the keys to living well with diabetes.1

Talking openly with your healthcare providers about any concerns or challenges you encounter is important, too. Working together with your healthcare team, you can find practical ways for you to adopt a lifestyle that will help keep you healthy.1 Many of these steps can also help keep your entire family healthy. This lifestyle may include some or all of the following2,3:

  • Learn about the ABCs of diabetes: A1c, Blood pressure, and Cholesterol. Ask your healthcare provider what your numbers should be for each and what you can do to reach your goals.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and follow your diabetes meal plan. If you don’t have one, ask your healthcare team to help you develop one.
  • Stop smoking. Ask for help with this if you need it.
  • Get routine care to avoid problems. Make your health a priority and stick to a regular care schedule.
  • Exercise. Aim for 30–60 minutes most days. Walking briskly is a great way to get or stay fit.
  • Check your feet every day. Watch for cuts, blisters, red spots, and swelling, and call your doctor right away if you have any sores that don’t heal.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene. Brush and floss your teeth every day and visit your dentist regularly to avoid problems with your mouth, teeth, or gums.
  • Check your blood glucose (blood sugar) and keep a record of your numbers that you can bring with you to your medical appointments. Your healthcare provider will tell you how often to check your levels.
  • Report any changes in your eyesight to your healthcare provider right away. Even if you aren’t experiencing any problems with your eyesight, it’s important to see an eye care provider once a year for a dilated eye exam.

For patients with diabetes who are overweight, modest weight loss of at least 5% of your body weight can improve your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Several medications for the management of type 2 diabetes can improve blood sugar control and also promote weight loss. When added to lifestyle changes, these medications may lead to 6 to 9 pounds of additional weight loss on average. Speak with your doctor about selecting a treatment option that can help you manage both your blood sugar levels and your weight.

Many patients find it helpful to attend a diabetes education program, to work with coaches who can help them achieve their healthcare goals, or to join support groups where they can share experiences, ideas, and information with other people who are living with diabetes. Ask your doctor about the resources available in your area.



  1. American Diabetes Association. Where do I begin with Type 2?
  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Managing diabetes.
  3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Preventing diabetes problems.


    Additional resources for patient information

    American Association of Diabetes Educators.

    American Diabetes Association. Taking care of Type 2 diabetes.


    Patient Toolkit

    Digital Health Coaching

    Living With Diabetes

    Can We Talk?

    Resources and Additional Info


    Font Size