One factor that differentiates diabetes from many other diseases is how extensively it can be controlled through lifestyle adjustments. When you’re living with diabetes, you have the real power to minimize its impact. Even small changes can make serious improvements to your quality of life.
Since the disease is affected by many different aspects of your lifestyle, there are a lot of options when it comes to managing diabetes. It’s always a good idea to learn what those options are so you can find the ones that work best for you.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus, better known as simply “diabetes”, is a metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar. The disease comes in several forms but the two most common are diabetes type 1 and diabetes type 2. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks your pancreas. Type 2 occurs when your body becomes more resistant to insulin, causing sugar to build up in your blood.
Improve Your Eating Habits
It should go without saying that an important part of diabetes management is your diet. If you haven’t already started, you should create a healthy eating plan with the help of a nutritionist or other health care provider, and then try your best to stick to it. The plan should include recommendations on portion sizes as well as what types of food to eat.
Here are some quick tips to remember:
- Use meal planning to ensure all your meals have a good balance of starches, proteins and fats.
- Go for fruits, vegetables and whole grains as much as possible, as these low-carb foods provide fibre to help stabilize your blood sugar levels.
- Drink less sugar-sweetened beverages. Soda and juices have a lot of empty calories, and can rapidly increase your blood sugar levels. Making a habit of drinking more water can help you avoid them.
Get More Exercise
Exercise helps control diabetes in a number of ways. It lowers your blood sugar, decreases your body’s resistance to insulin, and improves heart health. It can also help you lose weight, improve your circulation, lower the risk of many diabetes-related issues.
Whether it’s aerobics or strength training, any physical activity can help. The most important part is discussing your exercise plan with a health care provider and making it part of your regular schedule.
Important tips to keep in mind:
- Dehydration can impact your blood sugar levels, so make sure you drink lots of water while exercising.
- Keep a close eye on your blood sugar when starting a new exercise plan. If the activity or intensity level is new to you, it can sometimes lower your blood sugar the following day.
- Take care of your feet. If you’ve been dealing with circulation issues, you may be at risk of foot injuries like ulcers. Proper footwear like custom orthotics can help you protect your feet while exercising.
- Quitting smoking makes exercising easier, and is one of the best ways to improve your cardiovascular health.
Monitor Your Blood Sugar Level
Blood sugar testing is an essential part of managing diabetes. Not only will it help guide your treatment, but it also helps ensure you stay within safe limits. Some of the benefits it offers include:
- Helps you judge how well you’re meeting your goals
- Helps you see how exercise and eating habits affect your blood glucose levels
- Lets you know when your levels are too high or too low
Use Stress Management Techniques
Stress affects blood sugar in several ways. For one, it triggers a hormone response in your body that can raise blood sugar levels. On top of that, when you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress, you might find it hard to stick to your diabetes management plan.
Here are some quick tips to help you cope with stress:
- Start monitoring and recording your mood when you check your blood sugar levels. This can help you see the impact stress is having on you. If you notice a pattern, it can help you identify the triggers for your stress, so you can manage it in the future.
- Get some help learning relaxation techniques. Health care providers can teach you about the different methods and help you find the ones that work best for you.
Diabetes treatment and management can be complicated. It involves a lot of planning around many different aspects of your life. This is why diabetes education programs can be very useful. They can help you understand exactly how the disease impacts you, and the best ways for you to minimize those impacts.
Remember: You Have The Power
Making changes to your lifestyle can take some real effort. When you have a long-standing bad habit, it can be hard to break the cycle. If you take the steps to manage your diabetes early on, eventually you will begin seeing improvements to your health, which can be a great motivator.
Remember that you have the power to control your diabetes. By sticking with your diabetes management plan, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can start enjoying better health and quality of life.
As a final note, be sure to speak to your doctor for advice if you need help with diabetes in pregnancy, diabetes in children, or if you develop any diabetes complications.