When you get diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it can be an emotionally challenging time. You may feel like your body – or your health – is out of your control. Don’t worry, this is not the case. There are lots of lifestyle changes you can make to take care of yourself and your condition.

This may feel daunting at first. There’s so much that you have to adjust to – new medical routines and different health advice to follow. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, so take the time you need to process everything.

You don’t have to focus on changing everything at once. Take things one step at a time and go at your own pace. By making a few, small changes you’ll be able to see some big differences in your life. There are plenty of people who live a healthy life with diabetes.

What are some healthy lifestyle changes you can make when diagnosed with type 2 diabetes?

Get Active

Being physically active is good for diabetes as it helps lowers blood sugar levels. Alongside lots of other health benefits, like improving cholesterol and boosting your mood. The NHS recommend doing 2.5 hours of activity a week. Exercise can be a scary thought, especially after you’ve been diagnosed with a health condition.

There is no right or wrong way to exercise when you have diabetes. Try to focus on what works for you and your lifestyle. Whether you try swimming, sign up for fitness classes, get gardening, or move more in your home – any movement will help. Don’t be afraid to try different things and see which ones you like.


Healthy Diet

Your diet can also improve your health. Try to aim for a balanced diet. This includes:


Fruit and Vegetables – Try to have five portions a day. Fresh, frozen, and canned all count.


Animal / Plant-based Proteins – Beans and lentils are a great alternative to red or processed meat. They’re cost-effective and low in fat. 


Unsaturated Fats – Nuts, seeds, oily fish, avocado and olive oil. Remember these are still high in calories, so it’s good to be aware of your portion sizes. Try to minimise foods with high saturated fats, these include cakes, biscuits, and crisps. 


Starchy Carbohydrates – Swap your white carbs for wholegrain varieties, i.e. bread, pasta and rice. 


Aim to eat less salt and sugar. If you cook with a lot of salt, try using different herbs and spices. If you drink a lot of sugary beverages, you can swap them for sugar-free or diet versions.


Want to know more information about what to eat with type 2 diabetes? Check out the BDA’s food fact sheet.

Managing Stress

When you start thinking about making healthy lifestyle changes, it’s not just about a balanced diet and moving more. It’s also important to spend time looking after your mental health. Stress is a part of everyday life and can have a huge impact on us. While there is such a thing as healthy stress – the kind that motivates us to get stuff done – too much stress can be damaging. Did you know that stress can impact your insulin levels?  


So it’s important to manage your stress. We’ve put together our top tips for reducing stress. This includes focusing on what you can control and creating a self-care plan for yourself.

Alcohol and Smoking

While you start exploring new healthy habits, it’s also worth thinking about habits you want to stop. Stopping smoking can greatly benefit your health. Deciding to stop smoking can improve your lung and heart health, alongside improving your immune system. Giving up smoking can also reduce your risk of developing long-term health complications.


When it comes to type 2 diabetes and alcohol, you don’t have to cut out drinking entirely. It’s recommended to stay within the government guidelines. This means 14 units a week, spread out across at least three days. What does this mean for you? Units can differ depending on the alcohol and glass size. For instance, it could be six medium glasses of wine or 14 single measures of a spirit. Check out Drink Aware guidelines for further information.

Weight Loss

Losing excess weight is a good way to manage your type 2 diabetes as it can help to lower your blood sugar levels, alongside plenty of other health benefits. Losing just 5% of your current body weight can make a big difference.


While it may be tempting to try to lose weight quickly, the best approach is slow and steady. Here at MoreLife, we don’t believe in fad diets or quick fixes. We want to help people make real, long-lasting changes. We don’t tell you what to eat. Instead, we start by understanding you and helping you explore the reasons behind your eating habits.

If you want a helping hand to start leading a healthier lifestyle, check out our services page, and see how we can help you today

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