The do’s and don’ts of diabetes 21



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Diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions in our community:

  • 280 Australians develop diabetes every day
  • Currently around 1.7 million Australians have diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes accounts for approximately 85-90 per cent of all diabetes

Since a significant number of Starts at 60 readers fall into this category, I wanted to help with a list of do’s and don’ts for newly diagnosed diabetics.


The most important thing you should be doing once you are diagnosed (with either pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes) is get off your bottom and get active! As an accredited Exercise Physiologist I cannot stress this enough. Resistance training is the key to managing your diabetes with exercise. This means using your body weight or adding extra weight to your exercise. Walking is not resistance exercise!

Get your hands on some good quality information about diabetes. There is no shortage of easily-accessible material available. Diabetes Australia is a really good place to start.

Set up your care team
Find yourself a group of practitioners you trust. I recommend a GP, diabetes educator, exercise physiologist, podiatrist, dietitian and optometrist/ophthalmologist. These medical professionals can guide you though all the aspects of your diabetes and keep you as healthy as possible.

Eat well
Diet is extremely important for diabetics. We all know reducing sugar and increasing good-quality foods are important to your overall health, but when you have diabetes, this is a little less recommendation and a little more necessity.

Write down the essentials
The diabetes helpline phone number is 1300 136 588. Keep it on you at all times. There are some very serious complications of diabetes and you never know when you might need some help.

Know your targets
Blood pressure, blood glucose levels, HbA1c, total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL and LDL cholesterol and BMI. If you don’t know these, please refer to step 2 (Research) and 3 (Care Team)!

Get sucked into the words SUGAR FREE. Many “sugar free” foods can still have a big impact on your blood sugar levels. It’s safer to stay away from foods we know are bad for us even if the clever marketing people try to make them sound not-so-bad.

Ignore symptoms such as: ulcers or sores on the feet, gum infections, pins and needles in the hands or feet, changes in vision, ongoing illness, excessive thirst or frequent infections as these can be a sign or symptom of quite serious diabetic complications. Bring them up with your care team and they can help you sort out the worry-worthy from the rest.

Get overwhelmed or credulous: Diabetes is a very complicated but manageable condition. It is important you learn about diabetes, surround yourself with a good health team and understand your condition. You will need to manage your diabetes in the long term; failure to do so can have severe consequences. My advice is to pay good attention to yourself, your condition and your team to keep your diabetes future bright!


Have you had to live with diabetes? How easy have you found it to adapt?

Harmonee Dove

Harmonee Dove is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Exercise Scientist for the General Wellness Centre, operating from three locations on the Gold Coast.

  1. The vast majority of Type 2 Diadetics PMO, their condition is a Lifestyle choice, but they are drawing resources from those with Type 1, who have no say in their condition. A good article none the less.

    7 REPLY
    • My grand-daughter, 9 years of age, has just recently been diagnosed with Diabetes Type 1 and next Wednesday my husband and I are going to the Telethon Juvenile Diabetes Family Centre to receive some training in order that we can hopefully provide some relief for the parents. Yes, as I have learnt, hers has been brought about because her pancreas is no longer working.

    • I have type 2 diabetes and was diagnosed 4yrs ago. I have always looked after my health so mine was not a lifestyle choice!! My maternal grandmother and my paternal grandfather both developed it as they aged. Once I was in my 50s I developed it too!

    • Soryy Eleanor but I did say the vast majority, however late onset is common when people age, mainly through lack of exercise which often they are unable to do, my comment is more based on the younger people.

    • David, it is very hurtful and discouraging to be held responsible for a condition, late onset affects some and yet there are many others who do no exercise, ea try appallingly and will never get it because they do not have a predisposition genetically. Be kind please

    • David, it is very hurtful and discouraging to be held responsible for a condition, late onset affects some and yet there are many others who do no exercise, ea try appallingly and will never get it because they do not have a predisposition genetically. Be kind please

    • Margaret I do not wish to belittle those who have no choice, however it really annoys me about those who take no responsibilty for their condition by shovelling rubbish down their throats and do no exercise, I am very kind to those who act responsilbly but not the others who couldn’t care less, and I jhave worked with a few who have felt the sharp end of my tongue, as a Type 1 since the age of 23 and now 66, I think taht I have the right to fell as I do.

  2. I’ve been on the journey for 27 years and have gone through the diet controlled phase, the medication controlled phase and now am on the insulin/meds phase and my diet regeiems have changed with the phases.

    I’m a Planner Trainer by temperamant so have no probs with getting a plan/process sorted and sticking to it.

    I also know the consequences of poor management as both of my grandmothers died from complications caused by not sticking to the program. One had 7 amputations in the last few years she was alive and those images are with me all of the time.

    The one thing I did have a problem with was finding the right people to have in my support group. You need an educator, a dietitian and a GP you know you can communicate with and get the full story. If you have a question ask it and continue asking questions until you get the full picture and have a clear understanding of what you should be doing.

    Good luck as good support teams are as rare as rocking horse manure. 😉

  3. My journey has been about 37 years. I am used to having diabetes, it is usually well controlled but every so often I get “diabetes burnout”. I just want to spit the dummy. I do spit the dummy, then I feel so rotten, it reminds me why I have to be careful, be sensible, work to avoid foot, eye and kidney problems etc. Even the most disciplined of us cannot ” diet” non stop for the rest of our lives without the odd dummy spit, so don’t punish yourself for it. Get it out of your system, them move back into harness. Sometimes there are things we cannot avoid, in my family one in three has either type one or type two diabetes. We don’t bring it on ourselves, most of us are slim when diagnosed and put on weight trying to control it. For me it was like driving an automatic car and suddenly being put behind the wheel of a multi geared manual with no instructions. Its all trial and error, grating gears along the way. For those who have not experienced diabetes, don’t be too quick to judge, we didn’t ask for this any more than someone asks for cancer, we need understanding not criticism.

  4. Sometimes it’s hard to go totally without,I beat myself up constantly,3 monthly blood tests great so I’m happy with that,but you are judged sometimes

    1 REPLY
    • The people who judge you are fools who don’t know what they’re talking about. Not too sure what you are going without? I keep the carb content of any meal to a third, we don’t have desserts and cakes, biscuits, but I eat what I want if I go out. If I feel like sugar in tea, say, I have it. After a while I think you tastes change, and many things are too sweet for me now.

  5. Iv’e had diabetes 4 over 35 yrs. 5/6 injects… every day. It p’s U off..but U R alive..grin and bear it..1 other thing…Put a Smile on My Face

  6. Find a doctor who understands it! He will have access to professionals who can help. For me, I don’t have processed foods, I eat fresh food. Watch those carbs! This keeps my hba1 readings under 7.

  7. I find I have my diabetes type 2 pretty well under control with twice daily insulin injections and other medication. I used to love going for long drives but now can’t handle it, I start to drop off after about 1 hour so now I stop at least every hour and freshen up and limit the distance travelled to only 4-5 hours a day. In future I won’t be going on any long drives without a passenger to make sure we stay safe.

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