Lifestyle changes such as a low carbohydrate diet and aerobic exercise are key parts of maintaining good blood sugar control for people with type 2 diabetes. Many patients who are newly diagnosed or have early diabetes can control the diabetes with lifestyle changes alone. These lifestyle changes are important even for people with diabetes requiring oral medication or even insulin. By maintaining a low carbohydrate diet and doing daily aerobic exercise patients with diabetes are able to minimize the amount of medication that is needed to control the diabetes. Even with insulin diabetes is difficult and in some cases impossible to control without these lifestyle changes.
The diabetic diet is a low carbohydrate high protein diet. Sugars need to be reduced or eliminated. Patients with diabetes should not have sugar containing drinks. Sodas, juices, and sweet teas should all be eliminated from the diet. Water is the best choice of fluid to drink. Drinks containing sugar substitutes such as diet sodas or Crystal Light are acceptable alternatives to regular soft drinks or juices. Sweets should also be eliminated from the diabetic diet. This includes cookies, cakes, ice cream, candy, and other sweet items.
Starches do not taste sweet but are turned into sugars when they are broken down and digested, these also need to be reduced. This class of food includes bread, pasta, tortillas, chips, cereal, rice, potatoes, and corn. It is difficult to completely eliminate this class of food but they should be reduced and limited in a diabetic diet. Whole grain starches are better then refined flour but they still should be limited. Whole grain foods get metabolized into sugars but it takes the body longer to break these foods down. This causes a slower release of the sugars into he blood stream and makes it easier for the body to manage the blood sugar levels.
The diabetic diet will contain mostly proteins and vegetables. Lean meats such as chicken and fish are recommended. Legumes such as beans are also a good source of protein in a diabetic diet. Vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet for a diabetic patient. Vegetables are low in calories, low in fat, low in carbohydrates, and high in fiber. These are all the ideal characteristics of the types of food that are most healthy in diabetes.
Exercise is another key part of staying healthy with diabetes. Patients with diabetes do not need to run marathons but they should do daily aerobic exercise. A brisk walk is an excellent form of exercise. Patients who walk 20 minutes twice a day are much more likely to have good control of their diabetes. Walking is only one example of aerobic exercise. Anything that will get the heart rate up is beneficial. Swimming, bicycle riding (real or stationary), tread mill, aerobics, jogging, or any other activity that gets the heart rate up helps control the diabetes. If you live in a climate or area where walking is not practical, go to the mall and walk there (just don’t stop at the food court).
Lifestyle changes can be very difficult for some people but they are key to controlling diabetes. If you put your mind to it, come up with a reasonable plan, recruit help from friends and family, it can be accomplished.