Healthy living with type 2 diabetes


4 minutes

03 June 2021

Mature woman exercising outdoors and smiling

Managing type 2 diabetes can feel overwhelming, but there is support available to help you create a healthy lifestyle plan that works for you.

Living with type 2 diabetes can bring a few challenges. Learning to manage it as effectively as you can is essential for feeling your best and preventing future health complications.1

But you’re not in this alone. A range of health professionals – from your GP to a dietitian, optometrist, pharmacist and more – can form your support team, helping you navigate your diabetes management and create a healthy lifestyle.2

"Early detection and treatment, a healthy lifestyle and regular check-ups are key to managing type 2 diabetes," says HBF dietitian Mary du Heaume.

"It’s important to make sure you’re connecting with your doctors and other health professionals who can really help you with your own understanding of diabetes and what good management looks like.

"This allows you to take ownership of your health, so you can be more informed about the choices you make and the impact those choices can have."

Understanding type 2 diabetes

Our bodies need a hormone called insulin to break down glucose in the bloodstream (sometimes referred to as blood sugar), so that it can be used for energy.3

In type 2 diabetes, the body either stops producing enough insulin, or becomes unable to respond to insulin properly. This results in high blood glucose levels, which can cause symptoms such as excessive thirst and urination, hunger, fatigue and lethargy.3

Over time, diabetes can lead to serious complications including heart disease, kidney disease, nerve problems, foot problems and vision loss.3 That’s why experts say early treatment and regular health checks are essential, even if you’re not currently experiencing problems.

"Diabetes is a progressive condition and you may not notice any changes, as they happen in tiny increments," du Heaume says.

"Don’t wait for problems before you have a plan. Being proactive with early treatment and careful management is the best way to reduce your risk of serious complications.

"And as time goes on your original plan may need reassessment."

Creating a diabetes-friendly lifestyle

Healthy lifestyle choices including a nutritious diet, regular exercise and monitoring your blood glucose levels can help you manage type 2 diabetes.3

"Food has a major influence on your blood glucose levels, especially carbohydrate food," du Heaume says.

"Understanding how to build a healthy pattern of eating over the long term can help you manage your blood glucose levels, manage your weight and reduce your risk of diabetes complications."

As a starting point, du Heaume recommends following the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, with regular healthy meals spread across the day to keep you energised and avoid large increases in blood glucose.4

"However, there is no one diet that fits all for diabetes," du Heaume says. "Diet is a very individual thing, and Diabetes Australia recommends all people with diabetes see a dietitian for personalised advice."

Your diabetes support team

If you’re feeling overwhelmed about navigating your health care, a good place to start is by exploring the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) and Diabetes Australia. They can provide information and resources to get you on the right path.

Below are some of the health professionals who Diabetes Australia suggests can help you with different aspects of your diabetes management.2

  • Your GP is your primary health provider, checking your diabetes and helping you manage it. They can refer you to other specialists you may need to see.
  • A diabetes educator can work with you to help you understand and manage your diabetes. Visit the Australian Diabetes Educators Association to find out more.
  • A dietitian can help you understand how food affects your blood glucose levels and work with you to develop a personalised healthy eating plan.
  • Your dentist needs to regularly check your teeth and gums, as diabetes can increase your risk of dental problems including tooth decay and gum disease.
  • A podiatrist helps you look after your feet, which is important because diabetes increases your risk of foot ulcers and amputations.
  • An optometrist can screen for eye problems such as diabetic eye disease, which can lead to vision loss and blindness if left untreated. Diabetes Australia recommends an eye check every two years.
  • An ophthalmologist can monitor diabetic eye disease and provide treatment. Your optometrist or GP can refer you to an ophthalmologist if needed.
  • An exercise physiologist or physiotherapist can help you work out an exercise plan to support your diabetes management.
  • A pharmacist at your local pharmacy (an NDSS Access Point) can help you understand your medication.
  • An endocrinologist is a medical specialist who can provide expert advice on managing your diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes often don’t need to see an endocrinologist straight away, but you might in future.
  • A counsellor, psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker can help you if you’re feeling stressed or struggling with the emotional impact of managing diabetes.

How HBF can help with diabetes

Depending on your cover, HBF extras can pay benefits towards visits to the dentist, a dietitian, a podiatrist, an exercise physiologist, a physiotherapist or a psychologist.

HBF hospital cover may pay benefits for insulin pumps, as well as hospital treatments that may be required for diabetes (such as stabilisation of hypo- or hyperglycaemia and lumps and bumps from insulin injections).

Eligible HBF hospital members may also have access to The COACH Program, an evidence-based telephone coaching service to help you manage type 2 diabetes.

Always remember that you’re not alone. With the right support, you can develop a type 2 diabetes management plan that keeps you feeling healthy – and reduces your risk of future complications.

Extras cover to support your health

With benefits for dental, podiatry, dietetics and more, HBF extras may help support your diabetes management plan. 

Find out more

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This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal situation or needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please consider whether the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.