Living with type 2 diabetes

If you have type 2 diabetes, you can expect to continue living an active and independent life – as long as you manage the disease well. You will need to learn to control your blood glucose levels, make some changes to your lifestyle, and plan for certain occasions and activities. But the way you manage diabetes, and the changes you make, will be individual to you. The key to success is to make sure that diabetes management fits into your life – not the other way around.

In this section you’ll find tips and support to help you incorporate good diabetes management into your daily life.

Diet and exercise for type 2 diabetes

A healthy diet and regular exercise should be essential parts of your type 2 diabetes care. Eating well and staying active can help you keep your blood glucose on target, lose weight, and improve your overall health and emotional wellbeing.


Get type 2 tips on diet and exercise?

Meet Gerald. Since being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, he has realised that managing the disease properly and making a few lifestyle changes is not such big price to pay for staying healthy, active and happy.


Watch Gerald's story

What is blood glucose monitoring, and why is it important?

Monitoring your blood glucose levels can help you keep track of how well you are controlling your diabetes. Blood glucose checks can be done anywhere. You prick your finger with a small needle and test a drop of blood using a device called a glucometer.

You may not need to monitor your blood glucose in the early stages of type 2 diabetes, but your healthcare professional may recommend that you do when you start on insulin or other medication that may cause you to have low blood glucose.

Your healthcare professional will tell you when and how often you need to check your blood glucose. The following terms are used to describe glucose measurements taken at different times of day:


Fasting:?checking in the morning before breakfast, when your blood glucose is lowest


Pre-meal:?checking right before a meal to see how much your levels change when you eat


Post-meal:?checking two hours after a meal when your blood glucose is peaking

Remember: a glucose check you perform yourself is not the same as the HbA1c test performed by your healthcare professional, and the results cannot be compared.

Average blood glucose ranges for people with and without type 2 diabetes

Recording your blood glucose

Checking your blood glucose gives you a snapshot of your levels at a particular moment. Recording these measurements will show you your progress over time.

Accurately recording your blood glucose – as well as what you eat, when you exercise, and emotional factors like stress – will identify the causes of unusual peaks and dips. This will help you to improve your diabetes management and avoid long-term health complications.

There are many tools available to help you record your measurements, including diaries and smartphone apps. Talk to your healthcare professional about which is right for you.


Tips for monitoring your blood glucose

  • Set a routine: test and record at the same time each day so you remember to do it and can keep your records in a convenient place
  • Record immediately: don't put it off thinking you will remember the results later – you probably won't!
  • Be honest: record everything your healthcare professional tells you to: snacks, drinks, carbohydrate content, and the exercise you do – an accurate picture of your progress will help you avoid health complications
  • Stay vigilant: learn to spot trends, such as high blood glucose after high carbohydrate meals, or reduced levels after physical activity
  • Keep learning: a blood glucose reading on its own is not a sign of success or failure – it's an opportunity to learn about the factors that impact your glucose control, and how you can manage them better in the future

Emotional health and type 2 diabetes

Tackling type 2 diabetes head-on can be stressful and overwhelming, and ignoring these negative feelings can make the physical and emotional problems worse. Emotional wellbeing and physical health are closely connected in diabetes1, so it is vital that you take care of both.

Getting the support you need from your healthcare team, family and friends is an extremely important part of managing your diabetes. Remember, reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign that you are proactively taking control of type 2 diabetes.


Emotional health and type 2 diabetes: what's the connection?

  • Depression / Anxiety

    It's normal to feel low occasionally, but persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness need to be addressed as they can prevent good diabetes self-care.
  • Stress

    Stress causes your blood glucose levels to rise as your body releases stored glucose supplies into your bloodstream in preparation for 'fight or flight'.
  • Sleep problems

    Poor sleeping habits and not getting enough sleep can also negatively impact your blood glucose levels2.

Managing stress

Meet Dolores, who is living with type 2 diabetes. Having made the connection between emotional issues and her glucose numbers, Dolores learned to reduce her stress levels in order to improve her blood glucose control and overall health.


Watch Dolores' story about beating stress

Managing type 2 diabetes at work

Type 2 diabetes should not affect your working life, but it can present some challenges that you will need to prepare for. Whether you are starting a new job, or returning to work after a type 2 diagnosis, the tips below can help to make your working day easier.

Top tips for managing diabetes in the workplace

  • Start the day right: Never miss breakfast. This can lead to hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose), especially if you are on insulin or a medication to increase your insulin levels. Hypoglycaemia can affect your health, performance and safety at work.
  • Plan your meals: Take your own healthy packed lunch and snacks to work – you'll know exactly what you're eating and be able to plan accordingly. If you use a canteen or shop, get to know the healthy choices.
  • Testing and injecting: Make sure you have access to a hygienic place where you can test and inject in comfort.
  • Pens and medication: Always keep a spare pen at work. If you need to store your medication in a refrigerator, label it clearly so it is not used or discarded by accident. Use medication before the expiry date, and read the label for 'in-use' storage guidance.
  • Know your rights: The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) has developed a Charter of Rights for people with diabetes that covers fair treatment, career progression and support in the workplace. Many countries have adopted similar charters.
  • Informing recruiters and employers: There are usually no legal requirements to tell recruiters about your diabetes. However, a new employer is allowed to ask appropriate health-related questions to ensure you are able to do the job.
  • Telling your colleagues: It's up to you whether you tell your colleagues. If you do, you may consider providing a simple explanation about diabetes, and guidance on what to do if you experience hypoglycaemia so they feel confident about helping you if needed.
Top tips for managing diabetes in the workplace

Type 2 diabetes and travel

If you love to travel, type 2 diabetes shouldn't hold you back. A little extra preparation is all you need to make your trip go smoothly.



  • Supplies
    Take extra medication and equipment, and pack it in both your hand luggage and suitcase in case of loss, breakdown or delay.
  • Snacks
    Prepare starchy snacks and fluids to be carried at all times in case of hypos or unexpected gaps between meals.
  • Documentation
    Always carry diabetes identification (such as a card or bracelet), a letter from your doctor that states you have diabetes, a replacement prescription, and your insurance policy documents.
  • Security
    Check airport security requirements relating to medicines and injection devices in advance.

En route

  • Keep moving
    Remaining still for extended periods can raise your glucose levels – get up and walk around the plane or ship cabin, and take frequent rest stops if travelling by car.
  • Watch out for hypos
    Check your blood glucose regularly if driving, and pull over at the first sign of a hypo. Always keep something sugary to hand, just in case.
  • Inform staff
    Make cabin staff or stewards aware of your diabetes in case any problems arise.
  • Time zone changes
    Be prepared to adjust mealtimes and medication as travel days get longer or shorter.


At your destination

  • Hot weather
    High temperatures degrade insulin, but they also increase the speed that it is absorbed creating a risk of hypos. Monitor your glucose levels closely and be ready to adjust your diet or dosage.
  • Cold weather
    Insulin is absorbed more slowly in cold temperatures, but if you warm up quickly you may have a hypo. Monitor your glucose levels closely and be ready to adjust your diet or dosage.
  • Medicine storage
    Extreme temperatures can affect how insulin, GLP-1 and glucometers work.
  • Protect hands and feet
    Take care of your hands and feet if you have neuropathy (nerve disease) – numbness may prevent you from realising they are sunburnt or frozen.

New to caring for someone with type 2 diabetes?

Caring for someone with type 2 diabetes can be challenging. Because the disease starts in adulthood, individuals may find it hard to adjust to needing help, or to make changes to their lifestyle. It’s important you identify the best way you can support them while taking care of yourself in the process.

If you are new to caring for an adult with type 2 diabetes, start by learning the facts about the disease and how to recognise type 2 diabetes complications.


Creating a care plan

Creating a care plan together with the person you support is a good place to start. You can write it together, with help from their healthcare professional if needed, to ensure you cover all the essentials. Your care plan could include:

  • Meals:?Diet and type 2 diabetes are closely linked, so it is important to balance what, when and how much the person you care for eats, and to help him or her make healthy choices.
  • Being active: Regular exercise helps improve blood glucose control and avoid health complications. Make an enjoyable physical activity?part of his or her daily life.
  • Medication:?Help the person you support to stick to the treatment plan prescribed by his or her healthcare professional, and learn more about type 2 diabetes treatment options.
  • Checking blood glucose:?Encourage and remind the person you care for to check his or her blood glucose, and learn how you can help to monitor his or her blood glucose control.
  • Taking care of yourself: Taking care of someone requires you to be in good condition, and this means prioritising your own needs too. Make sure you eat and sleep well, monitor your stress levels, and reach out for support when you need it.
creating care plan


Are you an expert at living with type 2 diabetes?

At Novo Nordisk, we consider people living with serious chronic diseases to be experts in their own right. That's why we invite them to become members of our Disease Experience Expert Panels (DEEPs). DEEP members are able to provide disease-specific insights and advice based on real-world experiences. This input guides us as we work to develop better treatments and meaningful support for people living with chronic diseases worldwide.


Join a DEEP and share your type 2 experiences

Treating type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease, so you will probably adjust the way you manage it as you get older. There is a broad range of treatment options available to help you keep your blood glucose under control, including lifestyle changes, oral medications and insulin therapy.


Explore type 2 diabetes treatments


Are you heart smart?

Having type 2 diabetes increases your risk of developing cardiovascular problems, including heart attack and stroke. This is why it's important to take care of your heart health and type 2 diabetes together. Learn about the steps you can take to get in control of both.


Learn about type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular risk

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