Are Lifestyle Changes Better Than Diabetes Medications?
Often, patients come to us feeling guilty about their food choices and lifestyle habits. Though guilt rarely is a helpful emotion, remorseful clients can be wonderful to work with when they’re ready to make significant lifestyle changes. But what should we do when clients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes are so motivated to reverse the course of their disease with diet and exercise that they refuse medications prescribed by their doctors? I know the power of lifestyle changes, and of course, I want to support my patients’ decisions. But I can’t agree with this choice. Here’s why.
While I truly appreciate the desire to avoid medications and their potential side effects, I know that time is of the essence. I understand what insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes do to the body, how the problem is progressive, how insulin resistance likely has occurred for years before the diabetes diagnosis, how it affects multiple systems in the body, harms the heart and blood vessels, and raises the risk for certain types of cancer.
My quick reply to the “What should I do?” question is to use every tool available. Don’t wait. Work toward permanent lifestyle changes now and take your medications now. Though there are possible side effects to taking medications, there also are side effects to not taking medications. People who successfully manage type 2 diabetes from the time of diagnosis are the ones most likely to have good outcomes years down the line.
I advise my clients to combine lifestyle changes and diabetes medications. Only when they’ve made solid lifestyle chang Continue reading