According to a recent report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 100 million U.S. citizens have been diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetic conditions. This number is only increasing by the day.
Diabetes affects the ability of your body to produce insulin which then affects the blood glucose levels. Managing glucose levels is an essential element in diabetic treatment. If these levels are not monitored and managed they can lead to severe consequences.
Most diabetics opt to control their blood glucose levels either by medications and/or insulin injections. However, making meaningful changes to your lifestyle can also be immensely helpful to keep sugar levels in control.
A healthy lifestyle will not only make diabetes more manageable, but it will also improve the overall quality of your life. It is easier said than done, though. Incorporating healthy changes into your daily routine will require active effort and discipline.
Make sure you consult your doctor before making any changes and formulate the right plan for you. However, there are some general lifestyle tips that you can incorporate into your routine starting today. Let’s check them out.
Follow a balanced diet
To keep your sugar level in check, you must follow a balanced diet and follow it religiously. It will help you in keeping your blood sugar levels within your prescribed target range.
A healthy diet reduces the chances of complications and keeps your diabetes in check. Here are 6 important dietary recommendations to help you regulate your sugar level.
1. A low glycemic diet
Following a low glycemic diet plan is vital to maintain the appropriate glucose level in your body. The glycemic index, or GI, is a system that ranks foods based on their carbohydrate content. A lover GI rank means that that specific food item will not increase your blood sugar level as much as an item with a higher GI.
Therefore, your diet should contain items with a lower GI ranking.
Examples of low GI foods include whole grains, high fiber foods, vegetables, beans, etc. Processed food and food with high sugar content have a much higher GI and should be avoided.
2. Incorporating healthy carbs
It is generally discouraged to incorporate excessive carbohydrates in a healthy diet. However, there are some very healthy sources of carbs that you can eat in moderation. Here are a few recommendations:
- Pulses like lentils, chickpeas, and beans
- Choosing brown rice over white
- Buckwheat and whole oats
- Unsweetened milk and yogurt
3. Choosing whole grains
Whole grains are rich in fiber, which helps in maintaining blood glucose levels. Whole-grain foods with high amounts of fiber include whole-wheat pasta, bread, barley, and corn. They are also rich in vitamins and minerals, which make your diet balanced and healthy.
Vegetables are another primary source of fiber and should be incorporated in your meals. Other foods like lentils and oats are also good whole grain options.
4. Reducing the use of salt
Reducing the intake of salt will lower the risk of high blood pressure and heart diseases. A person with diabetes is more vulnerable to these conditions, and excessive use of salt will only jeopardize their health further.
Packaged food should be avoided but if you are consuming any, make sure you check their salt content. Cooking your meals is a great way to control your salt intake as it gives you the freedom to control the quantity that you use. There are many ways to replace salt while retaining the flavor of your food, like trying different kinds of herbs and spices as an alternative.
5. Avoiding red and processed meat
Although meat is a source of high protein, using red and processed meat increases the chances of worsening your condition. Avoid processed and red meat like bacon, ham, and beef. You can replace these with other sources of protein like:
- Chicken and Turkey meat
- Unsalted nuts
6. Eating regularly
You must eat your meals at proper intervals to maintain your blood sugar level.
Having breakfast, lunch, and dinner at regular times that are based on diabetic-friendly food and drink items, will help you a lot. Do not skip any meal as this may affect the blood glucose levels.
Many studies have indicated that physical activity can help regulate blood sugar levels. Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of daily exercise for a healthy lifestyle, but even a 15-minute session of light cardio can go a long way.
Here are a few exercises that you can incorporate in your routine to keep your sugar levels in check:
- Brisk walking
- Slow jog
- Skipping ropes
- Resistance training to strengthen your muscles
Try to make a habit of testing your blood sugar after each workout to understand its impact. It is also crucial to try out different times of exercising like pre-breakfast, evening or night, to maximize its efficiency.
Make sure you consult your doctor before starting any fitness regime. You don’t want to go for something too intense, nor something too light.
Regular exercising can result in the following benefits:
Most people with diabetes are advised to lose weight to control their sugar level, especially in the case of Diabetes Type 2. Extra fat in your body restricts insulin production, which leads to high glucose levels in the blood. According to various studies, pre-diabetic patients can prevent diabetic conditions by losing as little as 5 percent of their weight.
Exercising regularly helps you in losing weight. Pairing a healthy diet with regular physical activity is always recommended for those with diabetes.
The pressure of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keeping your blood sugar level in the recommended range can cause stress. With exercise, you don’t only lose or maintain weight, but it also helps manage the stress that comes with diabetes.
Did you know that it’s not always just food alone that spikes those sugar levels! Stress too can be the culprit. Incorporating a few minutes of meditation or yoga keeps you stress-free and away from the negativity that can sometimes arise from the obligation of meeting certain restrictions in your lifestyle.
A healthy lifestyle benefits everyone, not just those with diabetes. Following a proper diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and staying hydrated can make managing this health condition a lot easier.