The type of lifestyle you choose to live can have a drastic impact on how you manage your diabetes.
For example, diet can have a major impact on your health, especially for those with diabetes. It’s important to have an understanding of how food can affect you healthy depending on what you consume at mealtime.
In this article we’ll examine 10 diet and lifestyle tips that have been gathered from prominent nutrition experts for those with diabetes.
1. Carbs are not your enemy
Even though carbohydrates can have an impact on blood sugar levels, they shouldn’t be removed from your diet entirely. Carbs are a main source of energy used by the body to function efficiently. Focus on quality carbohydrates such as whole grains and fruit which can provide essential vitamins & minerals.
2. Watch portion sizes
Portion describes the quantity of food you decide to eat during mealtime without an objective measurement. For example a muffin, eggs and coffee can all be considered a portion. Try to include lean meats and vegetables in your diet which can make you feel more satiated and slow down a potential blood sugar spike, fiber can help keep blood sugar levels balanced. Be mindful of the amount of food you are consuming every meal. Use your plate to calculate the portions in your meal. As a basic rule of thumb, half your plate should be non-starchy vegetables such as leafy greens, broccoli and zucchini and the remaining half with lean protein such as chicken or beef. Carb counting, plate method and being conscious of the calories in your meals can help you control your portion sizes as well as your blood sugar levels & weight. Consult a doctor on what you should eat and how much.
3. Learn some Fruit facts
A diabetes myth is that fruit should be avoided by people with diabetes. The truth is that fruit is fine however should be part of a meal and not alone. The American Diabetes Association advises that fruit is fine as long as the person with diabetes does not have any food allergies to a particular fruit. Fresh or frozen fruits are better than processed fruits in a jar or can; or even dried fruits which are high in natural sugar.
4. Fiber is your friend
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits and legumes and whole grain breads and cereals. It has been found that people with diabetes are at a higher risk of strokes and heart attacks. Consuming enough fiber (20-35 grams daily for adults) can lower the risk. Fiber helps control cholesterol level and avoid any cardiovascular problems. Dietary fiber is essential to your diet and can also regulate blood sugar levels, detoxify and promote a healthy bowel movement by serving as a pre-biotic.
5. Alcohol & Sweets should be an occasional treat
It should go unsaid that alcohol and sweets are not good for anyone’s health and moreso for those with diabetes. They should only be consumed once-in-awhile and with other foods to slow their absorption. For example, if you’re going to have a candy bar, have it at the end of a meal.
6. Don’t forget about protein and fat
Protein is essential for our body to build muscle and maintain healthy tissue. In fact, protein has a minimal effect in stabilizing blood sugars. Protein breaks down into glucose slower than carbohydrates. Fats on the other hand, are a great source of vitamins. In combination, proteins and fats can keep you satiated longer after a meal.
7. Avoid extreme changes
Lifestyle changes are recommended for people who are at higher risk of diabetes or those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in order to manage their condition more effectively. However, those with diabetes sometimes take drastic measures and go overboard with their diet and lifestyle. They try to cut out everything in their diets which can have its own toll on the body. Gradual changes are best and more sustainable. A registered dietitian can help you with your specific needs.
8. Understand your insulin
It’s best to speak to a doctor to find out the right type of insulin for your condition. Different insulin brands and types may differ in onset, peak and duration. By understanding how your medication works, you can time your eating schedule and diet accordingly without seeing large spikes in your blood sugar levels.
9. You can still eat out
Typically, restaurant food is make with ingredients such as sauce thickeners and extra oils which can cause a spike in blood sugar. To play it safe, choose food items from the menu that are baked, broiled and grilled. Avoid any fried foods. Only ask for a small amount of gravy or sauce or get it on the side and apply it yourself. As previously mentioned, pay attention to your food portion. If they give you too much food, then get the remaining portion to go.
10. Get some exercise
Aim to get into shape. Exercise not only helps with weight loss, but can help the body transport sugar to the muscles to be used for energy. If you’re new to exercise, start with a short 30 minute walk every day. Talk to your doctor before starting a fitness program.