Managing your blood sugar within normal could be difficult often, but it is not impossible. As a person with diabetes, you might have heard this advice frequently about changing your lifestyle. Well, this is true that specific lifestyle changes can help manage Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
Many things affect blood sugar, sometimes even unexpectedly, and you should know about them. Certain items and activities added to your routine might be killing you silently without being noticed, but they affect blood sugar dangerously.
The point of confusion is, what are the appropriate changes required in lifestyle to manage diabetes? In the era of rumours and myths, it’s difficult to understand what’s true and what’s not about diabetes management. But that’s what this article is going to ease for you. Read on to find out!
How to Manage Diabetes with Lifestyle Changes?
Here we will discuss a few verified changes which can surely assist in controlling the blood sugar within normal limits:
1- Add Up Physical Activity In Routine
If you are not an active person, then it’s time to worry about managing diabetes. Managing diabetes with exercise is an easy way to maintain blood sugar. Regular movement and physical activity are important for improving insulin efficiency.
Physical activity stimulates the body to utilize extra sugar, which would otherwise be an issue to handle later on. If you want to induce lifestyle modification for diabetes in your life, then adding up physical activity is the first and easiest step.
Your mind might be overwhelmed with several questions like; which exercise to choose and how much time to manage diabetes? There is no need to be vigorous in the beginning if you are an inactive person. Even light activities like housework, gardening can show improvement in blood sugar management.
Studies show that adults and children with both types of diabetes should have moderate or vigorous physical activity for 60 minutes daily. Also, a person should be engaged in active strengthening activities for a minimum of 3 days per week.
2- Adjust Your Diet: Eat Healthily!
The control and prevention of type 2 diabetes with dietary changes is the easiest way to achieve the desired results and manage blood sugar. Healthy eating is important for everyone, either diabetic or non-diabetic.
Following are the few dietary tips that you should follow for managing diabetes and blood sugar maintenance:
- Reduce overall fat intake, particularly the saturated fat in the diet, e.g., in chips, biscuits, crisps, and pastries.
- Lowers the dietary saturated fat intake by choosing skinless chicken and turkey meat, also called lean meat. Preferably try to avoid the processed meat.
- Prefer grilled or steamed food as they are low-fat as compared to fried or roasted food.
- Control your calorie intake by managing the portion sizes.
- Manage your diet according to your diabetic medications, especially insulin dose.
Your diet should have an appropriate balance of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. These have fewer carbohydrates and more fiber, which will keep your blood sugar in a controlled amount. Strictly monitor carbohydrate intake and prefer it over sugary processed foods.
3- Avoid Unnecessary Sugar
If you have diabetes, keep yourself a mile away from processed and canned foods as they have extra added sugar to some extent. If necessary, thoroughly read the label of packaged food before buying to know about its sugar content.
Lifestyle changes for managing diabetes are not tricky, but cutting back on sugar is the basic need. Consume a sugar-free diet, or add up any natural sugar like fructose found in fruits.
Strictly avoid sugar-sweetened beverages and try some natural ways to sweeten your mouth. Artificial sweeteners are no longer healthier for anyone, especially for people with diabetes. Research shows a 15% increase in diabetes risk if you consume a 12 oz serving of sugar-sweetened beverage daily, so the choice is yours now.
4- Stress Management
Stress could be the worst enemy of your body if it goes unmanaged, especially for diabetes. Stress brings several changes in the body, which are drastic for standard physiological mechanisms. It increases the blood pressure and surges the blood sugar level –thus worsening the diabetic condition even more.
You might wonder how you can manage stress? Well, it’s not as difficult as it seems. Different ways assist in stress relief like a hot bath, cuddling your pet, a good book, and last but not least; Yoga has a very excellent role in relieving stress.
Stress management, either by behavioural stress control or using an anxiolytic medication, is helpful for type 2 diabetic patients to improve glycemic control.
5- Keep A Check On Your Weight
You might have heard about the risk factors of diabetes; being overweight is one of them. Being overweight is the root cause of several conditions which pave the way for worsening diabetes.
Being overweight causes high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and both of these are leading risk factors for cardiovascular complications and even death of diabetic people having heart problems. So you should keep your weight checked for a healthy life.
How can you manage your weight? Just eat a healthy calorie deficit diet if you are overweight, and be more physically active. If you drive your weight successfully, you have achieved a tremendous lifestyle change to manage diabetes.
6- Cut Back on Alcohol Intake
When your blood sugar falls below average, the liver releases the stored sugar and maintains the equilibrium. However, if you are drinking alcohol, you ultimately keep your liver engaged in metabolizing the alcohol. So you might face low blood sugar after an alcoholic drink.
Excess alcohol may boost the risk of type 2 diabetes; alcohol can also give rise to other diabetic risk factors. Like alcohol has many calories, it can increase a person’s weight, making them more susceptible to diabetes.
7- Quit Smoking
“Smoking is Injurious to Health’, this famous quote carries many harsh realities along with it. Smoking can kill you silently and is the biggest hurdle in diabetes management. Some significant worst effects of smoking are :
- Increase the chances of blood clotting.
- Makes less resistance to exercises.
- Lowers the body’s good cholesterol.
- The temporary rise in blood pressure.
If you have diabetes and are a smoker, too, better to quit it right now. Smoking can cause the following worse effects to people with diabetes:
- More chances of kidney and nerve damage.
- Three times more chances to die as compared to nonsmokers with heart issues.
- It makes it difficult to control diabetes, as smoking can raise blood sugar.
8- Skincare Management
Diabetes complications sometimes affect your skin and cause tingling, numbness, pains, and sores in the hands and feet. It can lead to less sensitive skin in these regions, making them more pain-resistant without being felt, which is not good.
Increased pain tolerance means your skin can easily catch infections and get injured without being noticed. Small lesions may get complicated and worsen with time creating more damage. Also, high blood sugar is responsible for skin rashes, also called acanthosis nigricans.
If you have diabetes, how can you manage your skincare? Spare some time and observe your feet and hands daily for any lesion; look for any numb spot or sores. Use some moisturizer daily for dry skin.
9- Strictly Watch Over Any Illness
Sickness makes your body compromised in performing everyday physiological actions and disturbs the metabolism. You may face diabetes complications if you have any other illness, too, so you must prepare for it.
Illness induces the release of stress hormones to fight the infection, increasing blood sugar levels above normal. Lifestyle changes to manage diabetes demands that you should be ready enough to resist any emergency illness without affecting ongoing diabetes.
During illness, keenly observe your blood sugar frequently and also urine ketone bodies. Adjust your diabetic medication dosages along with illness medicines as prescribed by the physician. And if the situation worsens, visit your doctor immediately without any further delay.
10- Use Diabetes Medications Carefully
Medications like insulin and some others are essential to control blood sugar, besides weight management and exercise. But should consume medicine at recommended dose and time for complete efficacy.
Even a few medicines other than diabetes can also affect the blood sugar level. Insulin is strictly temperature sensitive, so you should store it appropriately. Avoid taking improperly stored or even expired insulin.
Keep in touch with your doctor, and report the problem, if any, like blood sugar. Never start any new medication without consulting your doctor. Ask your doctor to check your diabetes score before prescribing any new medicine.
FAQs: Healthy Lifestyle Changes to Manage Type 1 & Type 2 Diabetes
1- Can you cure type 2 diabetes by changing your lifestyle?
Although type 2 diabetes is non-curable, lifestyle changes still help hold and maintain blood sugar levels up to standard. It is not a proper cure, and this is an ongoing disease.
2- What lifestyle changes can be made which can manage blood glucose levels and prevent type 2 diabetes?
Following are the main lifestyle changes to manage and prevent type 2 diabetes:
- Cut back sugar
- Stay hydrated
- Quit smoking
- Dietary adaptation etc
3- Why is type 2 diabetes controlled with lifestyle modification?
Lifestyle modification for diabetes requires an active lifestyle, as it lowers the blood sugar level back to normal.
4- How long can you live with type 2 diabetes?
As per general expectations, a person with type 2 diabetes can live about 24.7 years further on average.
5- What time should people with diabetes stop eating?
As a person with diabetes, you should avoid long gaps between meals. At breakfast after every hour or half an hour after waking up. And eat a meal every 4-5 hours after that.
Lifestyle changes are vital to managing diabetes and are effective mostly. A small initiative to adopt the above-discussed changes can surely help to lower blood sugar. If the condition persists, you can get your genetic testing done to find the unknown causes behind your condition.