Lifestyle Modification: Small Changes, Big Impact on Diabetes
Every time you visit your doctor, they ask you about your diet and exercise. Have you ever wondered why they insist on it? Is taking the right medicine (or insulin) at the right time, not enough?
Well, it’s not
Relying only on medicines to manage diabetes is not sufficient. They have to be complemented with positive lifestyle changes to help you reach your target blood sugar levels.
We share 8 essential aspects of diabetes management that you must not miss:
1. A healthy, balanced diet
The idea is simple – eat small, healthy and balanced meals that are spaced out throughout the day. Eat food that is rich in fibre, protein, antioxidants, unsaturated fats. Include as many vegetables and whole-grain foods in your diet as possible.
Cut down foods rich in carbs, sodium, fats and give saturated fats a miss (as much as you can). Sweetened beverages are also best avoided. On cheat days, don’t forget to control your portion sizes. No food is a strict no-no when it comes to diabetes, as long as you watch how much you eat and what you eat it with.
2. Get more active
There’s a reason doctors insist on this – exercise helps your body use up the excess blood sugar and improves your body’s response to insulin. Not only that, it also enables you to lose the extra weight and destresses your mind.
You don’t have to join a fancy gym or a CrossFit class to get active – even brisk walking is good enough. Your goal should be to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day 4-5 times a week – so sweat it out and get your heart pumping!
3. Bid stress goodbye
Stress is an inevitable part of life, and it directly impacts your blood sugar levels. While we might not be able to control stressful situations, we can definitely control how we deal with them.
Practice meditation – even if it is only 10 minutes a day. Learn to take deep breaths when you start feeling anxious. Consider therapy if you think things are getting out of control – it’s okay to ask for help.
4. Get more zzz
High blood sugar levels affect your sleep, not getting a good night’s sleep causes your blood sugar levels to rise – it’s a vicious cycle. Aim to get at least 7-8 hours of undisturbed sleep every night.
To do this, eat healthy during the day and have dinner at least 2 hours before going to bed. A good night’s sleep is one where you wake up energized and refreshed.
5. Shed a few extra kilos
Consider losing 5-10% of your current weight over the next year. The right combination of diet and exercise can help you shed those extra kilos and help you feel healthier.
6. Kick the butt
Smoking is injurious to health (we’ve all heard that!). Diabetes increases the risk of complications such as heart diseases, strokes, kidney diseases, vascular complications, foot problems, nerve damage and eye disease.
Smoking + Diabetes makes things worse. Smoking even makes exercising harder as you feel breathless sooner. Consider quitting as soon as you can.
7. Watch your drinking habits
Alcohol could either cause your blood sugar levels to rise or go really low. What is more dangerous is that it could have a delayed effect over the next 24 hours as well. Ask your doctor about what and how to drink – especially if you are on insulin. As a rule, never drink on an empty stomach.
8. Regular check-ups
As we’ve already mentioned, Diabetes increases your risk for several complications. An early diagnosis can be helpful so that treatment starts early. You must visit your doctor every 3 months or at least 2 times a year.
Schedule annual full-body tests that check your nerves, feet, eyes, kidneys and heart. You must also schedule a dentist appointment every six months.
Now that you know why your doctor insists you make these changes, we’re sure you start making small changes that will help you get big results!
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