Living with and managing diabetes is different for everyone — but there are a few things that all diabetics can do to make life a bit easier. If you’re curious about what lifestyle changes can help diabetes, wonder no more. We’ve compiled a list of 5 of the most useful lifestyle choices you can make to get your diabetes under control.
5 lifestyle choices to make for better diabetes management
1. Stick to a well-balanced diet
Wondering which lifestyle change can benefit a person with diabetes the most? We’d argue that it’s this one: making healthy diet choices.
Diabetics need to take special care with their diet, not because any foods are particularly bad, but because different foods can affect blood sugar levels in different ways. A diet high in salts, fats, and sugars makes it much harder to control your condition. And that’s not even getting started on the other ill effects that such a diet can have.
It’s important for all of us — not just diabetics! — to stick to meals and snacks that include whole grains, veggies, fruits, lean proteins, low-fat dairy products, and limited refined or processed foods.
2. Get plenty of movement throughout the day
What are the lifestyle changes for diabetes that everyone can benefit from? Well, one important change is to be more active. For diabetics, exercise is a great way to control blood sugar levels, manage weight, and help prevent dangerous health conditions such as heart disease.
We recommend aiming for about half an hour of moderate or intense physical activity daily, five days a week. Whether it's walking, running, biking, swimming, playing a sport, or going to the gym, the choice is yours!
In addition to dedicated periods of exercise, you should also find small ways to stay active throughout the day. This can include:
- Parking farther away from your destination
- Taking the stairs
- Stretching during work
- Moving while you do a hobby (i.e., cooking, watching TV, reading, etc.)
- Walking to the mailbox
3. Check your blood sugar levels
One thing that’s guaranteed to make your diabetes worse is neglecting your blood sugar levels — that’s why regular blood sugar checks are imperative. If you haven’t invested in an easy-to-use glucometer, now’s the time to do so.
Be sure to check and record your glucose levels regularly. Look out for any trends that may occur, and always seek medical attention if your levels become dangerously low or high.
4. Make time for stress relief
High stress levels don’t cause diabetes, but they can make it worse. If you’re stressed, you’re more likely to:
- Make bad diet choices
- Stop exercising
- Experience increased blood sugar
- Forget to take your medications
- Have a negative outlook
Everyone manages stress differently. To keep your stress levels down, try spending time on a hobby you enjoy, practicing meditation, stretching or doing yoga, or anything else that will help you relax.
5. Say goodbye to smoking and alcohol
Cigarettes and excess alcohol consumption can be dangerous, especially if you have diabetes or diabetic neuropathy. Two of the best things you can do for diabetes (and for your health in general) are to give up smoking and limit your alcohol intake. Doing these can help limit nerve damage, make it easier to control your blood sugar, and reduce your risk of developing other health problems.
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