If you’re newly diagnosed or new to taking control of your diabetes it can seem really daunting. But it should soon fall into perspective and not be a great worry at all. The first thing to realise is that with a little knowledge and effort it should be possible for you to make real improvements in your lifestyle and health.

Why your knowledge and effort? Because we’re all individuals and so diabetes affects us in slightly different ways. Healthcare professionals, advisers and other diabetics can help point you in the right direction, but ultimately you will be the person who knows your body best and so your input into treatment decisions is the most important.

This section is a series of annotated links to pages on this site and beyond that you may find useful in understanding your diabetes. It’s a sort of whistlestop tour of the main issues and these link represent what we feel are good, understandable explanations. Wherever you have questions – and you’ll probably have loads – please come into our friendly forum and ask. There are lots of people – from newly diagnosed to very experienced – who are happy to share their experiences and try to help you on your journey of discovery.

All links open in a new page so you don’t have to leave this one.

What is diabetes?
An excellent short video from Diabetes UK explaining just what happens within your body if you are diabetic
A page on this site explaining the different types of diabetes.

Just been diagnosed?
Often quite a traumatic time when it’s hard to take everything in. This is Kate’s summary of the important things to understand.
A blog by one of our members, Alan. It may chime with the experience of many at diagnosis and offers his top tips on the steps to take right away that will start to make you feel better and more in control.
Scared and confused? You’re not alone. These typical threads from the forum give a good flavour of how many people feel immediately after diagnosis and the support, advice and reassurance on offer there.

Often we just take the pills the doctor gives us without not really knowing what they do. This list helps to explain how different medications can help.

Metformin. A concise answer from the forum about the use of probably the most widely used drug for T2s.

What to eat

Cut out sugar? Eat wholemeal? Lots of fruit? More than anything, people seem confused about what they should be eating. It’s not helped because the healthy heart diet often advocated for diabetics ignores the fact that it contains lots of carbohydrate, which raises blood sugars. Which is why many diabetics come to reject large parts of it. The links below may help you make your own mind up about what diet is best for you.

Jennifer’s advice.
Probably the most universally recommended and referred to advice for anyone setting out on control of their diabetes. And with good reason. Jennifer’s advice explains very simply how to find out objectively the most important information any diabetic needs: how different foods affect your blood glucose levels.
So, I hear you ask, if the diet the NHS recommends for diabetics frequently doesn’t work, why the heck is it being advocated? This personal blog is an interesting summary of how that came about.A useful starting point, too, if you want to continue your own researches into the diet that works best for you.
Have you been told simply to avoid sugar?This personal blog explains why this is highly misleading and could hinder, rather than help, good blood glucose control.
A typical thread on the forum that covers general advice on eating to maintain better blood glucose control, with particular emphasis on breakfasts.

Breakfast time is often when diabetics’ blood glucose runs high because the body finds it hardest to use insulin. One answer is to reduce the carbohydrate load. Yet modern breakfasts are geared to high-carbs, with cereals, fruit, bread etc. This blog looks at quick and easy breakfasts that may help solve that problem.
Alan’s blog on breakfast ideas for those who want to cut down the carbohydrate.

Checking your blood glucose control

The only way to know your blood glucose levels – and whether they’re high or low – is to test with a glucometer. This is a touchy area with the NHS because test strips are expensive and the random tests done by many people are, frankly, next to useless. But if you test according to a plan – preferably agreed and discussed with your diabetes healthcare professionals – testing can yield huge benefits and make good blood glucose control far far easier
The background to testing, why it’s important and how to start doing it.
Alan again with a very good guide to the importance and benefits of testing. The links on this page are worth following too.

What to expect from the NHS

Tests and reviews: one of the positives about being diagnosed with diabetes is that there is a care structure within the NHS that should ensure you have regular checks on all aspects of your health. It will probably mean you end up healthier than many of your non-diabetic peers.
A summary of the minimum tests and checks you should expect under the NHS.

Levels of care vary throughout the UK, but it’s often helpful to understand what’s on offer and is seen by the NHS as good practice in an up-to-date and dynamic primary care trust and its diabetes service. As such an example, NHS Croydon’s  diabetes website has a patient hand-held record booklet for patients locally. It’s worth downloading (or download the 2.7MB pdf directly) to show what you might reasonably expect where you live. The section “What care should I expect from the health service” (page 40-43) is particularly worth reading and ought to apply to everyone, everywhere.

Education programmes: in recent years there have been huge strides in educating diabetics to help them understand and take more control of their condition. Ideally every diabetic, new or long-standing, should have access to some sort of official course, though they’re not quite universal yet. Local areas often have their own versions of education courses, but most are based on:

X-pert programme
Education in an informal environment for T2s.

T1 education courses by Dafne and BDEC, again with small informal groups.

Books recommended by forum members
User opinions on the most helpful reading about diabetes