Steps to Take After a Type 2 Diagnosis

Article written and reviewed by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD and Robby Barbaro, MPH
Published March 8, 2022

Finding out you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can be overwhelming at first. With all of the information and misinformation out there, it can feel daunting. While it may seem like it’s too much to handle, you can do this! Not only can you do this, but we’re here to help you thrive. 

You Have Been Told You Have Type 2 Diabetes, So Now What?

Stop and Breathe

When you receive a new diagnosis of diabetes it can be tempting to try to run into “fix-it” mode. While there are things you can do, it can help to take a short time to process this new information.

If you have just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you are not alone. This isn’t an impossible diagnosis and we’re happy to help you thrive. Before we talk about what you should do about your diabetes, here are a few things to do with a new diagnosis.

  • Give yourself time to process - Give yourself permission to put down the research and let yourself embrace this new diagnosis. You are not a diabetic. You are a person living with diabetes. This diagnosis does not define you and it doesn’t mean your life is over. Instead, it means you are beginning a new adventure and changing some of how you see your health. 
  • Seek out support - This is a perfect time to reach out to people who genuinely care for you. Talk to friends and family about how this makes you feel and let yourself feel those feelings. There will be time for doing things about this type 2 diabetes diagnosis but it is important to start by focusing on letting yourself process it emotionally with people who care for you. 
  • Join the Mastering Diabetes Facebook group - This is a large Facebook group dedicated to supporting and encouraging others who are living with diabetes. Join the Facebook group and search through a variety of conversations about issues related to living with diabetes (along with fun recipes and success stories!). This is also a fantastic place to ask questions and form connections to others who are walking the same path as you. 

Confirm the Diagnosis

When you receive a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, your next step should be to get a C-Peptide test done. The C-peptide test is an important blood test that determines whether or not your body is still producing a sufficient amount of insulin, and can be a vital indicator about whether you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. 

Determining which type of diabetes you have massively influences the long-term treatment, approach, and potential to reverse diabetes. Having this test done can help you to better understand your type 2 diabetes. Here are a few important facts about the C-peptide test.

  • What will the C-peptide test tell you? - An accurate C-peptide measurement will provide you and your doctor with a quantitative assessment of the ability of your pancreatic beta cells to secrete insulin. This information allows you to see what type of diabetes you have and understand what chance you have of reversing type 2 diabetes without the need for exogenous insulin.
  • Is a C-peptide test really that important? - Knowing your C-peptide levels can determine the entire course of your diabetes treatment, and allow you to differentiate between “insulin sufficient” and “insulin deficient.” Although it is possible to make an educated guess about what type of diabetes you are living with, a C-peptide blood test gives you and your doctor a much more accurate insight into your diabetes health.
  • Where can I get a C-peptide test? - It’s very easy to get your C-peptide level tested. It is an inexpensive blood test that you can request from your doctor, or you can order the test for yourself online and schedule to have your blood drawn at a local Labcorp or Quest Diagnostics walk-in facility.

Learn More About Foods You Can Enjoy

When you are first diagnosed it can feel like your plate is being emptied of all of your favorite foods. This is because living with type 2 diabetes will mean that certain parts of your lifestyle will have to change. But it doesn’t have to leave you feeling defeated!

Instead, eating with type 2 diabetes can involve finding new favorites you didn’t know you loved. Food can be a powerful medicine, so it is important to find a diet that works for you – and not just your health, but your happiness too! Here are a few tips for finding foods you can enjoy.

  • Start with the list of what you can have! - So often when someone is newly diagnosed with diabetes, they run to the list of foods they can no longer eat. Instead of focusing on that list, head to the list of foods you can happily enjoy. We recommend that you get 80+% of your calories from the carbohydrates found in intact whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, with the remaining calories coming from plant-based fats and proteins.

    Sound restrictive? You might think that, but there are countless plant-based recipes that might just change your mind. When you see the abundance of foods you can enjoy, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
  • And celebrate no portion control! - The green light foods we mention above (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and so on) also have one BIG difference to what you might have been eating before – you can eat them as often, and in whatever quantities, you want! We’re entirely serious here, these foods are so good for you that you can eat them until you’re full whenever you want, and they’ll always support your health!
  • Find out what the “sometimes” foods are. - We call these yellow light foods. Yellow light foods are foods that are okay to include in small quantities because they are slightly processed or have higher fat content. They shouldn’t be daily staples but are still considered a “healthy” choice. “Yellow light” foods include whole grain or bean pasta, whole grain cereals, refined grains, whole grain bread and tortillas, avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut meat, soybeans, and soy products. Knowing your yellow light foods will allow you to have some freedom as you adjust to a new way of eating.
  • Work with a Mastering Diabetes personal coach. - When you start a new type 2 diabetes journey it can be hard to find the right foods for your situation. Working with a Mastering Diabetes personal coach allows you to build a program that is fit to your needs and helps to make sure the foods you are enjoying benefit you.

Learn About the Impact of Physical Activity on Type 2 Diabetes

When getting a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, many doctors will advise the addition of a fitness routine. This is because when you exercise, cells in your muscle increase their energy requirements, which in turn increases their glucose requirements.

When your cells increase their energy demands, excess triglyceride is burned inside muscle cells, which in turn increases their responsiveness to insulin. It’s a great, positive feedback loop!

Still, starting to add in physical activity can feel a bit overwhelming when it feels like you’re changing your whole life at once. So here are a few simple ways to add physical activity to your daily life.

  • Start with small attainable goals. - When you are newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it can be tempting to go all-in on everything to change your life. While this can be great, it can also leave you feeling like you are overwhelmed and want to quit completely. Instead of setting larger-than-life goals, start with small attainable goals. This might mean adding in a daily walk that is longer than what you might normally walk or working out an hour in the gym once a week. The goal will be to increase your activity level over time, but sometimes it helps to start with small attainable goals and work your way up.
  • Set goals that honor your current abilities. - When adding new physical activity into your life, doing too much can actually work against your health, or lead to injuries. It can help to meet with a trainer or speak with your doctor about realistic goals you can set based on your current abilities.
    The goal is to increase your activity level. If taking a half-mile walk every day is a push beyond your normal, start there. You may eventually be doing more strength training or have the ability to handle more involved cardio workouts. For now, though, start where you are and focus on growing your abilities a bit at a time.

You Can Do It!

This can all seem like a lot, but a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is not a reason to panic! 

After all, the science is clear – if you respond to type 2 diabetes quickly, and take the right steps, you can completely reverse insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes!

We’ve briefly touched on some of the steps here, and if you want to learn more, there are a ton of options. One great first step you might take is to read the New York Times Bestseller Mastering Diabetes.

If you’re looking for someone to guide you on your journey, you can get all the steps in our DIY Program, or work with an expert diabetes coach through small-group coaching or one-on-one training. Thousands of people have had results and love it - and you can get those results too. In fact, we guarantee it if you work with us!

The Mastering Diabetes Community is always here to provide nutritional, informational, and social support to help you meet your new goals, so what are you waiting for? It’s time to start making some new daily habits that will aid your health, and make you feel great along the way. It’s time to Master Diabetes.

About the author 

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD and Robby Barbaro, MPH

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD, and Robby Barbaro, MPH are the coauthors of the New York Times bestselling book Mastering Diabetes: The Revolutionary Method to Reverse Insulin Resistance Permanently in Type 1, Type 1.5, Type 2, Prediabetes, and Gestational Diabetes. They are the cofounders of Mastering Diabetes, a coaching platform that teaches people how to reverse insulin resistance via low-fat, plant-based, whole-food nutrition. Cyrus has been living with type 1 diabetes since 2002, and has an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from UC Berkeley. Robby was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2000, and has been living a plant-based lifestyle since 2006. He worked at Forks Over Knives for 6 years, and earned a Master’s in Public Health in 2019.