Managing Type 2 Diabetes: How to Help Someone in Your Care Make Lifestyle Changes

Healthy habits for someone with type 2 diabetes

To keep type 2 diabetes under control, a person needs to maintain a healthy weight, eat a variety of nutritious foods, get some exercise, and -- if he has a cigarette habit -- quit smoking.
The stakes are higher for an individual with diabetes than someone without it. Excess weight, poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, and smoking can all wreak havoc on blood glucose and, in turn, lead to long-term complications such as heart attack and stroke, as well as eye, kidney, nerve, and blood vessel damage.

Unhealthy habits may be deeply ingrained and hard to break, but there are many ways you can help someone make the changes necessary to live with diabetes.

  • Be a partner. Offer to accompany the person in your care to a diabetes education class, if you can, or on visits to see his primary diabetes doctor, diabetes educator, or dietitian -- experts who are trained to help people make diabetes-friendly lifestyle changes. Partnering with him will help him continue to make healthier choices. You may also benefit from educating yourself about the disease by attending a class or talking with his healthcare team.
  • Exercise together. Find out which types of exercise he prefers -- for instance, maybe he'd like to take a walk or play golf with you to increase his activity level, or maybe he'd rather swim side by side. Look for ways to help him exercise.
  • Cook healthier food. Prepare meals that are wholesome and include a balance of vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Read more about sticking with a healthy diet.
  • Prompt him when necessary. Remind him when it's time for him to test his blood glucose or take his diabetes pills.
  • Raise a cheer. Provide encouragement for the good choices he makes and the results that follow. Perhaps he loses weight by carefully watching what he eats. Or maybe he needs less diabetes medication as a result of his increased activity level. Tell him how well he's doing -- he needs to know you're in his corner as he continues to make the healthy lifestyle choices necessary to live with type 2 diabetes.


Sarah Henry

Sarah Henry has covered health stories for most of her more than two decades as a writer, from her ten-year stint at the award-winning Center for Investigative Reporting to her staff writer position with Hippocrates magazine to her most recent Web work for online sites, including WebMD, Babycenter. See full bio