Living with a disease like diabetes doesn’t mean that life cannot be enjoyed to the fullest. Small changes in habits and lifestyle can make a huge difference in the quality of life for a diabetic. Working with a physician is always important but there are many things that can be done easily at home to keep blood sugar under control.
The most important goal for a diabetes lifestyle change is to achieve blood glucose levels that are as close to normal as possible. To begin, weight-loss is almost always required. Setting a goal to lose approximately five to ten percent of total body weight is an excellent start. A two hundred pound person could set a goal of losing about twenty pounds. This weight-loss is almost always immediately beneficial to blood glucose stability. Diabetes affects overweight people more than any other segment of the population, so if a person’s body weight is above normal, losing weight is an excellent way to being controlling diabetes.
An exercise program does not have to be strict or boring in order to help control diabetes. Walking around the neighborhood, playing golf, swimming and gardening are all excellent ways to begin using exercise to control blood sugar. Any regular physical activity will help improve the way a body responds to insulin. Longer and more strenuous exercise sessions will affect blood sugar for a greater period of time. Gradually working toward a goal of one hour of exercise per day is a good way to begin an exercise program.
Dietary changes are the single most important treatment for diabetes. Both the quantity and type of food that a person eats will affect glucose levels greatly. Choosing foods that are low in fat and sugar will aid in weight loss and insulin control. The easiest way to change a diet is to do this gradually. Choose meats that are high in protein and low in fat like fish and chicken rather than beef or pork. Choose to add more servings of vegetables and fruits to each meal rather than bread. Simple changes will create a diet that regulates blood sugar without ruining flavor and enjoyment.
There are many wonderful foods that can be used as substitutes for full fat or full sugar versions of recipe ingredients. Unsweetened applesauce can easily be used to replace shortening in many baking recipes. Unsweetened applesauce does not affect blood sugar and tastes delicious. Whole grain bread is excellent for sandwiches and easily replaces processed white bread at lunchtime meals. Adding foods like cucumbers, green beans, garlic, oatmeal and tofu or flax to a person’s diet actually can mimic the action of insulin. These foods, when eaten regularly, have positive effects on blood sugar regulation.
Treating diabetes with diet and exercise is not as difficult as it seems but when blood sugar levels cannot be controlled with these changes alone, the addition of insulin is often necessary. Storing medications properly and working closely with a physician to regulate dosages are also important factors to consider when living.
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