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Managing diabetes

Diabetes NZ gives advice on what to do and how to manage when someone in your family is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can be daunting for the person and their whole family. We asked the experts at Diabetes New Zealand how families can offer help and support to a family member with diabetes.

National president of Diabetes New Zealand, Mike Smith, says one of the best ways a family can offer support to a newly-diagnosed person with type 2 diabetes is by eating the same healthy foods and joining in on regular exercise.
“Rather than making people with diabetes feel different, the key is to create a ‘new normal’ environment within the family. People with diabetes don’t need to buy special foods or eat differently from the rest of the family – if everyone’s eating healthy food it will be good for the person with diabetes and the rest of the family, too.

“Everyone in the family needs to be aware that type 2 diabetes can have serious complications if not managed properly. If there’s one diagnosis in the family, there is a likelihood others could be at risk, too. So it makes sense for everyone to adopt some healthy lifestyle changes.”

Here's how you can support a friend or family member with type 2 diabetes

If you want to find out more about diabetes, see Diabetes New Zealand.

  • Think ahead. Plan what you and your family are going to eat for the week so it includes healthy meals the whole family will enjoy.
  • Use the ‘ideal plate’. Make sure a quarter of your dinner plate is protein, a quarter is carbohydrate and half your plate is non-starchy vegetables.
  • Eat the same food. People with type 2 diabetes don’t need to buy special foods or eat separate meals from the rest of the family. There are lots of healthy, easy-to-make recipes the whole family will enjoy.
  • Try The New Zealand Diabetes Cookbook: Easy Everyday Recipes for the Whole Family, by Simon and Alison Holst.
  • Drink tap water. Get the whole family drinking tap water at dinner. It’s healthy and free.
  • Eat together as a family. Sit at the table to enjoy meals at regular times as often as you can. You’ll find this is great for communication within the family, as well as helping you be more conscious eaters.
  • Get the family moving. Find an activity the whole family enjoys doing. Plan to make it part of every day. Every bit of activity counts. Walking is good if you want a good natter with a friend or family member, and it’s free.
  • Be supportive. Go with the friend or family member when they have a medical appointment.
    Go smoke-free. If you have family members who smoke, encourage them to stop. Make the family decision to have a smoke-free home.
  • Make healthy choices the easy choices. Decide as a family not to have unhealthy foods in the house. This is hard at first, but will ultimately benefit everyone.
  • Work together towards weight-loss. Get the whole family involved to help support the family member with type 2 diabetes reach and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Join Diabetes New Zealand support groups near you. Phone toll-free: 0800 369 636
First published: Dec 2008



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