Living a healthy lifestyle after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is an integral part of managing the condition. Here are some easy tips for making that happen.
Watch Your Diet
Living a healthier lifestyle to help with type 2 diabetes starts with your diet. This is one of the most important things to keep in mind because the wrong diet could raise your blood sugar levels to a dangerous degree. You want to focus on reducing your sugar intake and lowering your refined carbohydrates. You can still have carbs, but stick to complex carbohydrates like whole wheat, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and non-starchy veggies. You should learn the proper portion sizes of food and not over-indulge on a regular basis.
Get Regular Exercise
The next important part of living a healthier lifestyle for treatment of diabetes is by moving your body more. You will need to get moving and make sure you are exercising regularly. This is important for multiple reasons. First of all, being overweight can affect diabetes, worsening it, and even causing it. Losing weight might start to help with the condition and in many people, causes their blood sugar to lower to a non-diabetes level. Exercise is also important because your muscles can take the sugar you consume and convert it to energy.
See Your Doctor
While it is possible to manage diabetes with lifestyle changes, this does not mean you should try to do it all on your own and never see your doctor again. You need to talk to them about medications and continue having your blood test and other tests to see how your blood sugar levels are doing. It is possible that even with diet and exercise, you still need insulin therapy or need to take medications to control your blood glucose levels. Do not ignore your appointments and make sure you monitor your blood sugar levels if you are given a meter to do so.
Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
Your doctor has probably told you this about many other medical conditions, and it also applies to diabetes. It is important that you watch how much alcohol you are consuming. This does not mean you necessarily have to quit drinking altogether, but that you should stick to minimal amounts of alcohol. Your doctor can also advise you about ways to quit drinking if you believe you have an addiction to alcohol.
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I wanted to talk about this topic because it is absolutely possible to prevent and even reverse Type 2 Diabetes (but you cannot reverse Type 1). Yes, it’s possible! and emerging studies looking at lifestyle medicine and prevention support this! But I always tell my patients that you must be dedicated and diligent in adopting a healthy lifestyle to get the best results. You can create certain behaviors and practices that will not only enrich your life, but that you can pass on to your family, friends, and community, to help break the cycle of this chronic disease so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve your blood sugar levels, maybe reverse type 2 diabetes. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Tools For Diabetes Prevention and Monitoring
Blood Sugar Monitoring
As you know, I always stress the importance of taking control of your health. Monitoring your blood sugar levels is one of the best ways to do this. To do this, a single drop of blood is collected with disposable lancets and placed on a disposable test strip, which you insert into a home blood-sugar monitoring device, called a glucometer.
The common times for checking your blood sugar are when you first wake up (fasting), before a meal, 2 hours after a meal, and at bedtime; however, you should check your blood sugar as many times a day as your health care team suggests.
Monitoring your blood sugar level provides you and your doctors with important knowledge about how food, activity, medication, stress, and other elements might affect your blood sugar levels. This data will assist you and your doctor in developing a therapy plan that is suited to your demands.
Since weight management is very important in combatting chronic diseases such as diabetes, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor (*this scale cannot be used with a pacemaker or other implanted devices).
Physical activity (or exercise) can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several chronic diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, just to name a few. Physical activity actually improves insulin sensitivity. Physical activity can improve your mood, boost your immune system, and even help you maintain a healthy weight.
I often recommend yoga and resistance training for physical activity, but as you are aware, there are plenty of forms of “movement” that you can do! But for the basics, especially if you’re just getting started, yoga and resistance training are where I would start.
Yoga can be a great way to improve your strength and flexibility, manage your stress, improve your heart health, and lose weight! I recommend using a grounded yoga mat to connect yourself with the earth and reduce inflammation.
Resistance training is the mainstay for overall health. It not only has beneficial effects on reducing body fat, it also increases muscle size and strength. Here are some basic dumbbells/free weights that I recommend to everyone.
Remember, living a healthy lifestyle including eating a whole foods plant-based diet and regular physical activity are the best ways to prevent diabetes. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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