When A Loved One Is Diagnosed With Diabetes

by Raintree

When someone you love Is diagnosed with diabetes it can be an emotional and practical roller coaster. Here are some emotional and practical tips from our own experience to help.

This article is about how my husband and I faced his diagnosis of Diabetes and the ways we tackled it. To us Diabetes is not to be dramatised or diminished. In my experience it requires a calm logical approach. This is something your family will be coping with and dealing with for a long time. At first we felt all at sea and lost but we got to grips with it. You wont always get it right and we all make mistakes but there is help and guidance.

So you have found out that your loved one has been diagnosed with diabetes. You will have a million questions yet if you are like most of us you forgot to ask any of them of the doctor who delivered the news. If he or she was a good Doctor they will have told you the relevant things but could you take it in at the time. I know I didn't....

It was totally unexpected..... Looking back yes he did have the symptoms but we didn't recognise them. We reeled and then rallied . We had to get to grips with it and quickly so this article is about how we tackled it and what we did.

My husband was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes so that is what I will be mainly talking about here. I have his permission to write about this. I hope some of it may be useful to you.

Disclaimer please read

I am just a person with experience of living with someone who has diabetes type 2  and not a medical expert.This article contains personal opinions that are not intended as medical advice. The contents are not intended to diagnose, treat or give a medical opinion.

The information here is no substitute for medical diagnosis and guidance. Consult a physician in all matters relating to health, particularly concerning any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention. Never disregard medical advice, or delay or change treatment because of something you have read here. For assistance with diabetes, or any other medical condition, always consult a qualified healthcare professional. Your health is your responsibility.

Diabetes For Dummies

Great easy to read book that helped us a lot!
Diabetes For Dummies

$22.99  $8.97

View on Amazon

Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms ?

We didn't know the symptoms of diabetes so here they are. (you may want to skip the annoying ad at the start of this video!)

Do You Or A Loved One Have Diabetes?

(if you think you might have diabetes but are undiagnosed please go to see your doctor)


We found out my husband had diabetes through a routine test as we were changing practices. He had been feeling tired for quite a while and been quite thirsty but it was a hot summer so didn't think anything of it and he had been working hard. We were so shocked when the nurse said - we need to look into this further- and immediately booked him in for a blood test to check for diabetes! 

I know the doctor said quite a lot about diabetes and said he would send us some leaflets through but I for one was in a bit of a daze. I do know the general tone was quite negative and I just wanted to get out of there! 

I still recall our first shopping trip after hubby was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It was the friday evening after he had been diagnosed that morning. Well we knew now that diet was very important and that he MUST avoid high sugar, high Gi foods. We had to buy low or no sugar and low Gi foods. 

We wandered around that supermarket for 2 hours.... We were it has to be said slightly still in some shock and couldn't recall what the doctor had said!  Reading labels trying to decifer what they meant. If sugar was bad then what about glucose, fructose? Trying to work out how much sugar is actually in that product meant a Maths degree as the labelling was so complex and I wasn't sure about all the Gi stuff! 

We came out with fresh fruit, fresh veg and little else that trip! 

We knew we had to do some serious research and fast! As the Dr initially wanted him to try only diet and exercise Food was going to be a key factor in keeping well and reducing the rather high blood sugar count he currently had. 

To be honest we felt at sea, we didnt know anyone with diabetes and did not know where to start! 

So we contacted Diabetes Uk who were wonderful and gave us solid practical advice and suggestions. We learnt what Low Gi actually meant and how to read labels and what to avoid. We learned how to understand diabetes, how to tackle it, what food to eat and how to exercise better. Over time it became absorbed into our lifestyle and we handled it.  

Plan For Living Well With Diabetes

These steps are essentially what we did - it took a while as we had noone to learn from at first

1. Diagnosed- now Breathe....

2.Find out what diabetes means for YOU

What type do you have? Do you need medication as well as diet and exercise? What tests and treatments do you need? 

3.What are your health risks?

4. Find out good healthy foods to eat. Get used to the Gi index. Take a copy of all the good foods you CAN eat with you when shopping

5. Get a good book on foods and meals you can prepare

6. Educate your family and friends-give them a leaflet, website link or book to explain diabetes. See if anyone will join you on your healthy eating and exercise plan. 

7. Exercise according to what your doctor has told you. Make efforts to handle any stress in a positive way 

8. Make good efforts to maintain or reach a healthy weight.  

9.Get support and information from your local Diabetes association in your country. 

10. Live your life! Yes diabetes is serious but YOU are not your Condition and you can live a great life! We do :) 


Foods A Person With Diabetes Must Avoid

Glycemic Index or Gi

Check the Gi for foods that are low GI - these are good to eat.

What Do I Eat Now?

Eating Well with Diabetes
What Do I Eat Now?: A Step-by-Step Guide to Eating Right with Type 2 Diabetes

The DIY approach to a diabetes diet! What Do I Eat Now? is the single best resource for people with diabetes to learn how to eat right and eat healthy with diabetes. Each chapte...

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Feeling Stressed About Diagnosis ? Be Kind To Yourselves.

A diagnosis of any medical condition can bring with it worry and stress.If you are supporting someone with a new diagnosis of diabetes try to be calm and practical , think of the things you can do to help. Encourage your loved one to understand the condition and work with the healthcare provider to do the best for them.   

 Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness...be gentle with yourself



 If you feel you need help with stress then do discuss with your healthcare provider.

Questions To Ask Your Doctor

You know when you came out of the Drs office and you forgot to ask all those questions? Well next time take a short list with you so that you get to ask what you need to know.

These were some we had wished we had asked...

Can I still drive?

What happens if my blood sugar goes too high or too low?

Will I need to go on medication?

What are the health risks of having diabetes? 

Do you have a recommended list of foods to eat/avoid?

Where are the support services for diabetes?


Questions To Ask Your Doctor If You Have Diabetes

Here are some more relevant questions to ask of your healthcare provider if you have diabetes. 



Tips For Looking After Yourself Or A Loved One With Diabetes

1. Check your feet and body regularly for any signs of cracks or infections

2.Go for your regular blood tests and checks with the diabetic nurse or doctor.

3.Keep hydrated by drinking water regularly

4. Keep your regular opticians appointments

5.Wear a Medic Alert bracelet or pendant. You can get some very nice looking ones.

6.Keep some shoes handy by the door so that you are not tempted to walk around on dirty or jagged surfaces in your bare feet.

7.Stick to the healthy eating plan and exercise routine for your health. If you are supporting someone with diabetes check with your doctor if its Ok for you to join them!  

Other Peoples Reactions and Supporting Your Loved one

It is not until you have something like diabetes that you realise how much of social life centres around food!

As diabetes is essentially a "hidden" condition- you can't really tell just by looking that someone has diabetes, it can take some explanation..

Hubby felt it was important people close to him were aware of the diagnosis . At first we explained hubbys diagnosis to close family and friends, some were great and "got it" right away . others well minutes later chimed in with " so would you like one of my lovely home made flapjacks! AAAArrrhhh!!! To this day years later one family member still asks him if he wants sugar in his tea and would he like a nice biscuit!!!  You just have to get to a place where you can laugh! 

 I decided to support hubby in his diet and exercise. I didn't realise how difficult it was going to be as I have a very strong liking for sweet things and chocolate!!! However I was determined to do it with him.  

We erased all the foods he could no longer have from our kitchen and eventually replaced them with foods he could have an enjoy. I cannot imagine how hard it must be on someone with newly diagnosed diabetes on this diet to have foods around they can no longer eat. It just didn't seem fair to me.

The diabetic nurse said that the diabetic diet is a very healthy one and my Dr had no issue with me following it as well. 

I do think it is important if a loved one has diabetes to have support form family and friends especially at first but also as it goes on. It is not always easy sticking to a diabetic healthy eating plan and dealing with the condition so if you are in a position to support then go for it. 

However, Always allow the person with the diabetes to lead any decisions and actions, you are in support only. 

Diabetes And Exercise

Exercise is a key part of a healthy lifestyle and even more so if you or  a loved one has diabetes. It is important to get some aerobic exercise into your day so fast walking, skipping, running, swimming or playing a sport that will get you slightly breathless.


If you have diabetes or any other health conditions are unfit, unused to exercise or overweight do check with your doctor before starting or changing an exercise routine.


It is important to choose something that you enjoy and will keep doing at least five times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes. We found it better to have a couple different exercises to do so as not to get bored but others may be happier just concentrating on one, its really a personal choice.  The most important thing is that you do exercise regularly and stick with it.

You can fit quite a lot of exercise in to every day with out noticing it too much ie take the stairs instead of the lift, get off the bus a stop earlier, have a walk after work, things like that all add up as well.

You must exercise every day or nearly every day though , you can't really store up exercise by doing 3 hours one day then nothing for the next 4 days. Its much better to do some every day.  

If you can exercise with a buddy so much the better , even if one of you doesn't feel like it the other one can offer motivation ! 

Be Good To Yourselves.

Being diagnosed with diabetes or having someone close to you diagnosed with diabetes can be rough and a steep learning curve. However there is a lot you can do to take control and do for yourselves and do not be worried to ask for help and support when you need it. 


Gentle Hugs

Educate Yourself About Diabetes

When a loved one is diagnosed with diabetes it is important that they and you educate yourselves about the condition. The more you know and understand the more in control you may feel. The better you will be able to discuss treatment and options with your healthcare provider. The better you may feel about the choices and changes you need to make in your lifestyle to help your body.


There are great resources out there but do be careful to go to recognised sources who do understand diabetes. What may work for one person may not work for another so be careful. Ask your doctor for  advice as well. You may have access to a diabetic nurse who can also help you. 

Here are some online resources to get you  started:-







Updated: 01/03/2016, Raintree
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?

Are you managing diabetes yourself or supporting someone with diabetes? Love to hear any of your suggestions.

Raintree on 09/17/2014

Thank you so much ! I totally agree it is for the person with diabetes to manage it, we can offer support . It is a far more serious condition than most people realise with life changing complications. It is also not an easy condition to live with and I feel for anyone who has to . Sadly diabetes cases are rising.

happynutritionist on 09/17/2014

This is something my husband was diagnosed with years ago, and though all of the good information here is wonderful, as well as the knowledge that I have, the person with the diabetes has to want to cooperate and make the needed changes...therein lies our challenge:-) This is a serious disease, and if unchecked, in some years the body will react negatively in serious ways, we are living that to some degree now. The information you provide here is wonderful!

Raintree on 08/27/2014

Thank you ! Yes I wrote it in the hope that it would be helpful to others. Now we are further down the road Yes you can still have a good life- a great life-with diabetes, you do need to take more care though.

Sylvestermouse on 08/27/2014

I am sure there will be many diabetics who will be aided by all of the information you have offered here. My grandmother was diabetic and it is life changing for everyone around. I loved the subheading you wrote, "Plan for Living Well with Diabetes". Truly excellent advice!

Raintree on 10/04/2013

Thank you I appreciate that. Yes I agree a patient and calm approach is necessary and helpful along with all the lifestyle changes.

WriterArtist on 10/04/2013

It is not an easy task to have your loved one diagnosed with a disease. A patient and calm approach helps solve the issue. Diet and exercise, a life style change is also required. Family members have to pitch in to offer support and courage. Well - written article.

Raintree on 09/26/2013

Thank you nightbear. Yes a diagnosis of diabetes is not an easy thing to deal with and it does require a lot of lifestyle changes.I hope you are doing OK. I am glad you feel the article is useful and helpful.

nightbear on 09/25/2013

My recent diagnosis of Diabetes type 2 was a bit of a surprise but not completely unexpected since my mother was also diabetic. The life style change is a lot of common since decisions and making choices. But none of it is easy. This article was very useful and helpful and I appreciate the effort you put into it. It will help all of us. thank you

Raintree on 09/25/2013

Thank you Dustytoes I appreciate that. Yes its a big change but it can be done, well it has to be done. So we tried to approach it positively. Not always easy have to admit but we adjust. I do hope its helpful for others going through this.

dustytoes on 09/25/2013

This is an encouraging page for anyone suddenly facing a diagnosis of diabetes. It does force you to change your lifestyle.

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