How to Use SparkPeople When You Have Type 2 DiabetesFree Weight Loss Tools for People with Diabetes
-- By Amy Poetker, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator
Welcome to SparkPeople, America's most active weight-loss and healthy living website! This article will introduce you to all of the SparkPeople features that can help adults manage type 2 diabetes, including our Spark*D Diabetes Management Program, which offers a variety of free tools, trackers, articles and support options that can help you achieve success in the lifestyle management program that your doctor, health care provider and/or Certified Diabetes Educator has outlined for you.
SparkPeople can help you with the diet, exercise and weight-loss components of your treatment plan, but please note that our website is no substitute for regular medical care. While certified diabetes educators helped develop these articles and tools, you should follow the treatment guidelines given to you by your doctor and/or certified diabetes educator should you encounter any contradictions to your treatment plan.
About Type 2 Diabetes
People with type 2 diabetes must work to manage the disease for the rest of their lives. You can help control your blood glucose levels by following a healthy diet and exercise program, losing excess weight, and using medication prescribed by your doctors. <pagebreak>
In our Type 2 Diabetes Condition Center (found under the "Your Health" tab at the top of the site), you'll find dozens of healthy lifestyle articles we created specifically for people with type 2 diabetes, including:
- Eating Well with Type 2 Diabetes
- Meal Planning for People with Type 2 Diabetes
- Exercising with Diabetes
- Preventing Diabetes Complications
- And more
Free Meal Plans. Our meal plans were created by registered dietitians and meet the basic dietary guidelines for people with type 2 diabetes (50% carbohydrates, 30% protein, 20% fat). The diabetes meal plans also limit carbohydrates at each meal and snack to meet basic carbohydrate-counting guidelines. We provide a calorie range based on your current weight and goal weight (if you're trying to lose weight). You can access your meal plans by visiting your Nutrition Tracker page (found under the "My Tools" tab at the top of the site). Make sure that you have joined our Spark*D Diabetes Management Program and that your meal plans are turned on in order to access them.
Food and Nutrition Tracker. Our Nutrition Tracker is a great tool for anyone who wants to eat better or lose weight, but food tracking is especially important for people with type 2 diabetes. Some of the features on our Nutrition Tracker that can specifically benefit people with diabetes include calorie and carbohydrate goals and totals for each meal and snack, as well as for the day; a quick Glucose Tracker for pre- and post-meal tracking; fields to track the recommended three meals and two snacks per day; and several reports that you can print and share with your health care providers.
Exercise Plans and Workout Information. Physical activity helps to control body weight and keeps the heart and blood vessels healthy. Exercise also helps people with Type 2 diabetes to control blood sugar by making it easier for muscles to use glucose in the bloodstream. Ask your doctor for guidance on how much and when to exercise to best control your diabetes. SparkPeople offers hundreds of workouts, exercise articles, free fitness videos and a Fitness Tracker to help you start and sustain a sound exercise program—for life. To get started, check out these exercise basics or begin a walking program with our Walking Guide.
Glucose (Blood Sugar) Tracker with Printable Reports. On your weigh-in page, you have the option to track several other health measurements, including blood sugar. Our Glucose Tracker includes options for tracking your pre- and post-meal blood sugar levels as well as your fasting blood sugar levels. This tracker also includes links to reports that you can print to share with your health care provider. You can access your Glucose Tracker by visiting your Weigh-In and Other Measurements page (found on your Start page).
Calendar and Reminders for Appointments and Tests. People with type 2 diabetes are advised to see their doctors every 3 months. You can use SparkPeople's Planner (found under the "My Trackers" tab at the top of the site) to keep track of your appointments and set up email reminders for them, too, so that you never miss an important test again.
A Safe Weight-Loss Plan. For most people, losing weight is an important component of a type-2 diabetes management plan, and SparkPeople's meal plans and nutrition trackers combined with our vast resources and support teams have helped thousands of people lose weight slowly, safely and permanently. To learn more about our weight-loss program and recommendations, click here.
Community Support. Positive support and encouragement is the foundation of SparkPeople, and our Community provides ample opportunities for you to connect with experts, peers, people who are losing weight and others like you who have type 2 diabetes. We recommend that you join a diabetes-focused SparkTeam to connect with others who understand exactly what you're going through. Please note that if you flagged type 2 diabetes when you joined SparkPeople, we automatically placed you in our Managing Diabetes SparkTeam. To learn more about the benefits of SparkTeams and how to use them, click here.
- Diabetes-Friendly Recipes. When you're watching your carb intake, monitoring your saturated fat and increasing your fiber intake, it can be difficult to re-learn how to eat and cook. While you'll get tips in our articles and support Teams, you may also want to take advantage of SparkRecipes.com, our free sister site that connects to your SparkPeople account so that you can enter and analyze the nutrition breakdown of your own recipes AND find thousands of healthy recipes submitted by other members. You can add every recipe from SparkRecipes.com to your SparkPeople Nutrition Tracker with the click of a button, making it easy to track your food and carbs when you cook at home. Some members who submit recipes can flag them as "Low-Carb" so be sure to check out those selections. (Please note that SparkPeople's staff does not monitor member-submitted recipes, so be sure to check the ingredients and nutrition facts on all recipes that are flagged as diabetes-friendly or low-carb.)
Managing your diabetes through a healthy diet, exercise, and weight management will require some education and commitment, but SparkPeople is here to help you along the way. Most of our other articles, tips and support resources will help you establish a healthy lifestyle, even if they are not diabetes-specific. But keep in mind that our general articles (about carbohydrates, for example) are aimed at otherwise healthy adults and you will need to keep your doctor's recommendations in mind when using other areas of our website. You can learn more about healthy cooking, fitness, general nutrition and motivation by visiting the Healthy Lifestyle resource centers (found under the "Healthy Lifestyle" tab at the top of the site).
For more specific information or help, talk to your health care provider. The American Diabetes Association's National Call Center also offers live advice from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday at 1-800-DIABETES or 1-800-342-2383.