A well-balanced diet is one part of a healthy lifestyle for people with type 2 diabetes. But it's not always easy to make smart food choices and change the way you eat.
Carbohydrates have a big impact on your blood sugar levels—more so than fats and proteins—but you don’t have to avoid them. You just need to be smart about what types of carbs you eat.
A healthy diet is not just about eating less of the foods you love or achieving weight loss. It is also about making some simple lifestyle changes that you can maintain. Discuss your diet plan with your doctor and dietitian or educator.
Exercise has some amazing health benefits. But even more amazing is that you don’t need to be a hard-core athlete to enjoy the benefits of fitness.
The affect physical activity has on your blood glucose will vary depending on how long you are active and many other factors. Physical activity can lower your blood glucose up to 24 hours or more after your work out by making your body more sensitive to insulin. Regular exercise has been shown to improve blood sugar control, reduce cardiovascular risk factors, contribute to weight loss, and improve well-being.
Try to do a total of about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, most days of the week. They can all count toward your goal of staying active.
Always talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Here are some things you can do with family and friends:
- Exercise together with your friends, neighbor. Walking together has the added benefit of providing a regular opportunity to talk with your loved ones.
- Go shopping together and help prepare diabetes-friendly meals.
- Walk the dog together.
- Use pedometers to help make exercise fun.
- Go to a doctor appointment together. Ask your family member or friend to take notes on what your health care provider suggests.
- Ensure that fresh fruit is available as a dessert at friend or family gatherings.
- Participate in healthy neighborhood events, like community walks and gardening projects.
MYTH: You must avoid sugar at all costs.
Fact: The good news is that you can enjoy your favorite treats as long as you plan properly and limit those hidden sugars in many packaged foods. Dessert doesn’t have to be off limits, as long as it’s a part of a healthy meal plan or combined with exercise.
MYTH: A high-protein diet is best.
Fact: Studies have shown that eating too much protein, especially animal protein, may actually cause insulin resistance, a key factor in diabetes. A healthy diet includes protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Our bodies need all three to function properly. The key is a balanced diet.
MYTH: You have to cut way down on carbs.
Fact: Again, the key is to eat a balanced diet. The serving size and the type of carbohydrates you eat are especially important. Focus on whole grain carbs since they are a good source of fiber and they are digested slowly, keeping blood sugar levels more even.
MYTH: You’ll no longer be able to eat normally. You need special diabetic meals.
Fact: The principles of healthy eating are the same—whether or not you’re trying to prevent or control diabetes. Expensive diabetic foods generally offer no special benefit. You can easily eat with your family and friends if you eat in moderation.