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How to live with diabetes

Improving your health and quality of life

Once diagnosed with diabetes, it’s time to start taking the necessary steps to get your health under control and improve your quality of life. 

It’s essential to take charge of the situation by learning as much as you can about the disease and its management. Setting yourself achievable goals, adopting a diabetes diet, and exercising more are just three small steps on the path to improving your overall health.

Learn more about how to manage your diabetes

How to monitor your blood sugar

How to monitor your blood sugar

Monitoring your blood sugar helps you keep track and react to your body’s response to medication, exercise and food. For many, it is a key component in living with diabetes. Read more about when you should monitor your blood sugar levels here.

How to manage diabetes through exercise

How to manage diabetes through exercise

A slight increase in your physical activity can make a big difference to your overall health. Regular exercise helps control your blood sugar level, lose weight, and improve your physical and mental health.

Are you aware of cardiovascular risk?

People with type 2 diabetes are 2-4 times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke compared to someone living without diabetes. 4,12

Learn how you can reduce the risk.

Read more about diabetes and treatment of diabetes

<aheref="https://www.diabeteswhatsnext.com/global/en/about-diabetes.html">About diabetes </a>

About diabetes 

Diabetes is a chronic disease occurring when the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin (type 1 and type 2) or when the body cannot effectively make use of the insulin available (type 2). Symptoms for type 1 diabetes appear quickly, while type 2 symptoms develop slowly and can go unrecognised for years.  

<aheref="https://www.diabeteswhatsnext.com/global/en/about-diabetes.html">Treatment of diabetes</a>

Treatment of diabetes

Different treatment options are available for type 1 and type 2 diabetes and vary depending on how far along you are with the illness. Lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise are usually the first treatment steps, followed by medication. Read more on our treatments page here.

Related articles

Living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes

Tackling diabetes head-on can be stressful, emotional and overwhelming. Taking charge of your diagnosis early and tackling your situation head-on is a proactive way to get on top of this chronic condition. 3

How to handle your diagnosis depends on what stage of diabetes you’re at. Pre-diabetes can largely be managed through lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. 5 If you have type 2 diabetes, a progressive disease, you may find your treatment plans change over time as you progress to treatments such as glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs) or insulin treatment.  1

Managing diabetes in the workplace: 

  • Never miss breakfast 
  • Plan your meals 
  • Keep spare medication at work 
  • Inform your employer and colleagues if you feel this could benefit you 

How to control diabetes with diet and exercise 

Can diabetes be controlled with diet and exercise? In most cases, yes, managing diabetes with diet and exercise is possible. Lifestyle changes are the first steps to improve your overall health and boost your quality of life when suffering from type 1 or type 2 diabetes.   1

Diabetes diet tips: 

  • Create a personalised ‘living with diabetes’ meal plan  
  • Eat a variety of foods  
  • Watch portion sizes
  • Eat regularly  
  • Balance the amount you eat 
  • Count carbs (glucose is a carbohydrate, so the number of carbs you eat will directly affect your blood sugar levels)  

Diabetes exercise tips:

  • Become more physically active   
  • Try low-impact activities 
  • Incorporate more movement into your day 
  • Set yourself achievable goals  

Lifestyle changes to expect when newly diagnosed 

Stress levels increase
Everybody suffers stress and anxiety, but if you’re living with diabetes, these emotions can be heightened and harder to manage. Brace yourself to be hit with a lot of heavy information all in one go.   7

Practising mindfulness, educating yourself on the illness and slowing down your pace of life are all ways to help keep diabetes stress levels at bay. This will also help you onboard and process new information. Learn more about managing diabetes and stress here 

Dietary changes
Expect to be told to reduce your fat intake, eat leaner meats, watch your portion size and think carefully about the type of carbohydrates you are putting in your body.  6

A diet can be tough to stick to, but there’s lots of inspiring diabetic meal planners and tasty diabetes recipes that will help you control diabetes with diet. Learn more about diabetes diet here.

Increase in physical activity
If you weren’t active before being diagnosed with diabetes, the first change you’ll likely notice is having to carve out time to work out. We’re not talking about giving up three days a week to train for a marathon but giving up even an hour of your time to exercise may seem like hard work at first. 6 Get started with exercise here.
Recognising symptoms of hypos  
Being diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes means you’re always on the lookout for symptoms.  

People with diabetes may experience low blood sugar, which is also called hypoglycaemia or a “hypo”. Some of the common symptoms of hypos include confusion, intense hunger, feeling sick, clumsiness, blurred vision and slurred speech. You may find you experience one or more of these when your blood sugar levels are low. 8

Weight loss  
Possibly one of the most welcome lifestyle changes to come from a type 2 diabetes diagnosis is weight loss. A diabetic diet plus increased exercise will set you on the path to losing weight. Weight loss should be done gradually until a healthy body mass index (BMI) is achieved. 1



  1. International Diabetes Federation. IDF Atlas 10th Edition, 2021. Available from: https://diabetesatlas.org/idfawp/resource-files/2021/07/IDF_Atlas_10th_Edition_2021.pdf. Last accessed: May 2022. 
  2. WHO. Diabetes. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes. Last accessed: May 2022. 
  3. American Diabetes Association. The Big Picture: Checking Your Blood Sugar. Available from: https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/medication-treatments/blood-glucose-testing-and-control/checking-your-blood-sugar. Last accessed: May 2022. 
  4. Almdal T, Scharling H, Jensen JS, Vestergaard H. The independent effect of type 2 diabetes mellitus on ischemic heart disease, stroke, and death: a population-based study of 13,000 men and women with 20 years of follow-up. Arch Intern Med 2004; 164:1422–1426. 
  5. NIDDK. Insulin Resistance and Prediabetes. Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes/prediabetes-insulin-resistance. Last accessed: May 2022. 
  6. NIDDK. Diabetes Diet, Eating, & Physical Activity. Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/diet-eating-physical-activity. Last accessed: May 2022.  
  7. Diabetes.co.uk. Diabetes and stress. Available from: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-destress.html. Last accessed: May 2022. 
  8. NHS UK. Low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia). Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/low-blood-sugar-hypoglycaemia/. Last accessed: May 2022.
  9. Mosenzon O, et al. CAPTURE: a multinational, cross-sectional study of cardiovascular disease prevalence in adults with type 2 diabetes across 13 countries. Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2021; 20:154.
  10. Diabetes UK. Alcohol and Diabetes. Available from: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/enjoy-food/what-to-drink-with-diabetes/alcohol-and-diabetes. Last accessed: May 2022
  11. WebMD. Diabetes at work. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/ss/diabetes-at-work. Last accessed May 2022.
  12. Fox CS, Coady S, Sorlie PD, et al. Trends in cardiovascular complications of diabetes. JAMA. 2004;292:2495–2499.
  13. American Diabetes, Association. 6. Glycemic Targets: Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes-2022. Diabetes Care. 2022 Jan 1;45(Suppl 1):S244-S253.