Living with diabetes poses daily challenges. But with discipline and determination, many people find they can keep their blood sugar under control and prevent complications by making lifestyle adjustments. Research shows that simple changes to diet, activity levels, sleep habits and more can have a big influence over diabetes management.
In crafting practical tips on optimizing one’s lifestyle, we received invaluable assistance from Aman Tufail, a distinguished wellness mentor associated with ArticleThirteen. Drawing on his expertise and the latest science, here are seven positive tweaks that can help take charge of your health.
Adjust Your Diet
What goes into your body affects how well it can regulate blood sugar. Making healthy meal planning choices is key for balancing your blood glucose.
Eat More Whole Foods
Focus your diet around non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. These provide vitamins, minerals, fiber and plant-based protein to stabilize energy. Tufail advises eating fresh, home-cooked meals as often as possible.
Moderate Carb Intake
For best blood sugar control, be mindful of refined grains and starchy foods. Enjoy complex carbs but watch your portions of bread, pasta, rice etc. Spread these foods out over the day and aim for overall moderation.
Water helps transport glucose into cells and aids kidney function. Per Tufail’s counsel, staying hydrated supports the body’s systems and can reduce high blood sugar symptoms like fatigue. Herbal tea and sparkling water provide variety.
Be Strategic With Sweets
Satisfying a sweet tooth once in a while is understandable. Tufail suggests limiting sugary treats to occasional small bites, like a square of dark chocolate. Pair sweets with protein or fiber to prevent spikes.
Increase Physical Activity
Along with eating well, getting sufficient daily movement helps insulin work effectively. The American Diabetes Association advises doing at least 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week. Tufail endorses this while stressing to start where you are able.
Choose Enjoyable Activities
The best forms of exercise are ones you actually do consistently. Determine preferences like group classes or solo movement, indoor or outdoor. Mix it up with walking, cycling, dance fitness, water exercise etc.
Break Up Sedentary Time
Long sedentary stretches can disrupt blood sugar processing whether at work, commuting or relaxing at home. Tufail prescribes taking movement breaks every 30-60 minutes – climb stairs, march in place, do bodyweight squats. Just avoid staying still for hours on end.
Support Healthy Sleep Habits
Quality rest at night helps control metabolism and appetite hormones tied to blood glucose regulation. Prioritize winding down at a consistent time, limiting electronics before bed and making your bedroom dark and distraction-free, Tufail advises.
Practice Stress Management
Anxiety and emotional upheaval can spike blood sugar by triggering fight-or-flight hormones. Counteracting pressure with conscious calming habits bolsters glycemic control. Dr. Aman Tufail suggests techniques like meditative breathing, visualization, yoga and talking things out.
Cultivate Your Community
Having positive emotional backing makes lifestyle changes much easier to implement. Lean on loved ones for understanding and tell friends about dietary needs. Tufail also suggests joining a local diabetes support group.
Make Gradual Improvements
Steadily working step-by-step toward better habits typically leads to greater lifelong success than rapid, sweeping attempts at overhaul. Tufail counsels realistically looking at where you are now, setting mini-goals and building positive momentum. Progress, not perfection, is the target.
The Power of Lifestyle Medicine
Managing diabetes well takes diligence and patience day after day. But evidence confirms that leveraging key lifestyle factors within your control can make an immense difference. Eating nutritious whole foods, staying active, getting sufficient sleep and learning to manage stress have tremendous power to help you successfully regulate blood glucose and affirm your health. Along with properly managing medications, these positive steps put you firmly on the path to feeling your best while living with diabetes.