In addition to diabetes medication, diet and exercise are important components to managing type 2 diabetes.
Keeping blood sugar levels in the range a diabetic’s doctor recommends can be difficult because so many factors, such as physical activity level, diabetes medication, stress, illness, side effects from other medications, acute or chronic pain, menstrual cycles, and dehydration, can make blood sugar fluctuate. In addition to diabetes medication, diet and exercise are important components to managing type 2 diabetes.
Portion size is one way diabetics can help manage their blood sugar levels at snack and mealtimes. For lunch and dinner, eat with a nine-inch plate. Cover half the plate in non-carbohydrate vegetables. Use one-fourth of the plate for meat and the remaining fourth of the plate for carbohydrates.
For chicken, fish, turkey, and beef, four to six ounces is an appropriate portion size. This is approximately the size of a bar of soap or the palm of a hand. One ounce of cheese is recommended. This looks like two dice. One whole piece of fruit, such as an apple, orange, banana, or grapefruit is an appropriate serving size. One piece of bread or one-half cup of cooked whole wheat pasta, farro, or quinoa is typically a good portion size for these starchy foods.
Choose Carbohydrates Carefully
Eating balanced meals is important. Try to balance each meal with protein, starches, fats, fruits, and vegetables. Diabetics should be mindful of the type of carbohydrates they choose to incorporate into their meals. Some foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, are better for diabetics than other foods because they have fewer carbohydrates and possess fiber that helps keep a diabetic’s blood sugar levels more stable.
Get Aerobic Exercise
Muscles use glucose (blood sugar) for energy when an individual exercises. Additionally, regular exercise helps an individual’s body utilize insulin more efficiently. Even a little daily exercise can be beneficial. An individual should start out doing something they enjoy so they’re more likely to keep doing it.
Individuals can incorporate some small lifestyle changes to help them get moving. For instance, individuals can park as far away in the parking lot as possible from the store, take the stairs instead of the elevator, play a game of basketball with their kids, take their dogs for longer walks, or take a walk at lunchtime. Other forms of aerobic exercise that are good for helping control diabetes include swimming, playing basketball, running, playing softball or baseball, and playing volleyball.
Strength Training Exercise
Strength training exercise is also important for staying fit and healthy. Strength training exercises can be done with resistance bands, dumbbells, or weights.
Strategically Schedule Meals in Relation to Medication
Eating too little food in proportion to diabetes medication, especially insulin, can cause a severe drop in blood sugar, resulting in hypoglycemia. Eating too much may result in a blood sugar level that rises too much, causing hyperglycermia. Those who struggle with diabetes should talk to their doctors about when and how much is appropriate to eat in relation to their diabetes medication.
Avoid Sweetened Beverages
Beverages sweetened with fructose, sucrose, or corn syrup cause blood sugar to rise quickly and often contain a lot of calories, so it’s best to avoid drinking them. Opt for diet soda, water, or other non-sugar-sweetened beverages instead. The exception is if a diabetic needs to quickly raise their blood sugar because they’re experiencing hypoglycemia. In that case, a sugar-sweetened soda, sports drink, or juice can help normalize a diabetic’s blood sugar level.
Make Smart Choices When Dining Out
Another important component of diabetes control is making good choices when dining out. Diabetics should opt for clear soup rather than creamy soup for an appetizer. Fresh fruit and vegetables are also good choices. Choose whole wheat pita bread, breadsticks, and rolls, and avoid sweet or fried breads, such as pastries.
Avoid breaded, fried, and fatty meats, and opt for boiled, roasted, baked, or braised ones instead. Remove any visible fat from the meat. Plain rice or potatoes are good options for side dishes. Try to avoid French fries, scalloped potatoes, potato salad, and hashbrowns.
Water, club soda, diet soda, low-fat milk, and tea are all good beverage choices. For dessert, opt for a scoop of ice cream, fresh fruit, or light cake, such as a sponge cake.
Controlling type 2 diabetes can be challenging with so many factors affecting blood sugar levels. Working closely with their doctors, taking diabetes medication, eating a healthy diet, and exercising can all help individuals with diabetes control the disease.
This article is originally appeared in the eHealthIQ.