Type 2 Diabetes Guide

How to Control Diabetes Without Medication - Lifestyle Changes You Can Start Today

It can be shocking and overwhelming to be diagnosed with . Aside from the physical issues that come with the disease, diabetics have to adjust to as well. The good news is that diabetics can learn by making these lifestyle changes.

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plans usually consist of four important components:

  1. A healthy, nutritious, diabetic-friendly diet.
  2. Regular exercise.
  3. Maintaining a healthy weight, or at least controlling weight gain.
  4. Medication, such as pills or insulin injections.

Most people would probably prefer to avoid medication where possible. For many people, it is possible to control diabetes without resorting to medication. It takes commitment and consistency to the other three parts of the treatment plan: diet, exercise, and weight control.

Controlling Diabetes through Diet

Many tasty and delicious and cookbooks are available to help ease one's way into dietary changes. Because the in foods quickly raise blood sugar levels, diabetics have to be especially careful about what they eat, how much they eat, and even when they eat. Complex carbohydrates provide a slower, steadier release of sugar, while refined carbohydrates, sweets, and processed foods tend to provide a quick release of sugar, or a blood sugar "spike" -- something that diabetics want to avoid.

Ironically, a is basically a diet that's healthy for anyone: rich in fresh, whole vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and lean meats or proteins, while minimizing overly-processed or refined foods and sweets.

Eating on a regular schedule also helps to control blood glucose levels. Rather than eating when you feel like it, or eating when you get around to it, a regular meal and snack schedule helps to keep blood sugar steady throughout the day. is important too, as you don't want to eat huge meals that raise your blood sugar quickly. The foods you choose for your meal are also important to help balance things out -- don't eat all your protein in one meal and all your carbs in another. Try to get a mix of different nutrients in every meal. For example, eating an egg for breakfast won't raise your blood sugar much. But if you follow it up a couple of hours later with a snack of a few pieces of white toast and a brownie, your .

Your is checked every morning before you eat or drink anything other than water - usually 8 to 12 hours after your last snack or drink. If you find that your are too high, there are several things you can try.

Modify Your Dinner

Most people have their biggest meal at dinner time, often with lots of carbohydrates such as bread or rolls, potatoes, rice, or pasta. Try some substitutions: instead of a roll, have a small piece of fruit or some extra veggies. Substitute the high-protein superfood, quinoa, for rice. You can also bake your own breads and use or in place of regular wheat flour. Spelt is an ancient grain with more protein and a lower then wheat, while coconut flour boasts an extremely high fiber content as well as more protein than wheat.

Another way to make a change is to simply cut down slightly on the portions of carbohydrate-containing foods that you eat. Portion control is important not just because of the calories, but also to help manage blood sugar levels due to the carbohydrates in foods. For example, if you normally eat two cups of pasta, try reducing that by 1/2 cup; if you normally eat a roll with dinner, try half a roll.

Change Your Bedtime Snack

Have a smaller snack before bed. If you're not currently eating anything at all before bed, and your fasting glucose is too high, trying a small snack is worthhwhile. Since a diabetic's body doesn't properly use or produce insulin, this often helps.

You might also try eating something different for your bedtime snack. For example, if you've been having a piece of toast, try something with fewer carbohydrates - a half glass of milk, for example, or a half a piece of fruit.

Talk to a Dietitian

A dietitian can be a tremendous help with diabetic meal planning. He or she can help you include the foods you like, answer your questions, and make adjustments as you continue learning to control diabetes. The goal is create a sustainable meal plan, one that you can continue for the rest of your life. For most people, that means including at least some of the foods you enjoy.

Establishing a Regular Exercise Routine


It's hard to start exercising if you've been fairly sedentary so far. But . Not only does it help you get fit, it helps to control blood sugar levels, improves cholesterol, blood pressure, and circulation (all issues that can lead to additional serious ) -- and it's a natural enhancer. After exercising, people report feeling happier, more relaxed, and more confident.

Regular exercise is the most beneficial for everyday management of type 2 diabetes. Ideally, you would exercise most, if not every day of the week for at least 30 minutes at a time. Don't be a "weekend warrior" and try to do all of your exercise in those two days. Get into a regular routine and stick with it. If you need motivation, invite a friend (you'll be less likely to skip exercising if someone is expecting you), or join a class (many people enjoy the group setting, plus there's an opportunity to socialize too).

Wearing the is important too. Diabetics are more prone to poor circulation in the feet, so cuts and wounds heal slowly. Proper and a good pair of shoes will help ensure that you can continue to exercise regularly.

If you still find that your blood sugar levels are too high (whether fasting levels, or after you eat), then try one of the following tips.

Change When You Exercise

Many people find it easier to establish a routine, a set time every day when they exercise. However, depending on how your body responds, you might need to change it up a bit. Try exercising before a meal... or within an hour or two after eating. If your fasting glucose is too high, try a brisk 15-minute walk before bed.

Change the Intensity of Your Exercise Routine

Exercise that gets the heart pumping is great for fitness, for maintaining or losing weight, and for helping to manage blood sugar. If your glucose levels are too high, boost the intensity of your workout a little - that doesn't mean you have to go all out for the entire routine... but try to do a few minutes at higher intensity to see if it helps. Always get the go-ahead from your doctor first, especially if you are new to exercising or have other health conditions that may impact your ability to exercise.

Change the Duration of Your Exercise Session

Sometimes a few extra minutes can make all the difference when it comes to managing blood sugar levels. Start with an extra 5 or 10 minutes and see how your body responds.

Try Something New

If you normally walk, try a short jog or a swim instead. Try lifting weights, going for a bike ride, playing tennis, or playing a game of 'tag' with the kids! There are also loads of exercise videos to choose from - try yoga, tai chi, various types of dance, or zumba. Keeping things fresh and interesting can make it easier to keep going, even when you don't always feel like it.

Consult a Doctor

Check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. There are some exercises that shouldn't be done by diabetics with certain conditions or complications.

Make sure you know the signs of (low blood sugar) and how to deal with it. Exercising more than you're used to, or skipping a meal, for instance, can cause your blood sugar to drop too low.

Weight Loss and Weight Control


Being . Excess weight leads to , which occurs when a body stops responding to insulin properly. -- even just 10 or 15 pounds -- can help your body become more sensitive to insulin.

Losing weight is never easy. Fortunately, eating a healthy, portion-controlled diet as well as engaging in regular exercise, will make it easier to lose weight. Everyone's body is different -- even if you are finding it difficult to drop pounds with diet and exercise, you can prevent additional weight gain. Do not go on any fad diets or take diet pills to drop the weight. These can be harmful, especially to a diabetic.

Lifestyle Changes vs Medication

Learning how to control diabetes without medication is great, but the reality is that it doesn't work for everyone. Some people's bodies just don't sufficiently respond to lifestyle changes; other people find it too difficult to make or maintain the necessary lifestyle changes. It's certainly worth a try: becoming healthier is always good, and if it can prevent you from having to take pills or insulin shots, then all the better! Some people have even found that with consistent attention to diet, exercise, and weight, all their symptoms of type 2 diabetes have even disappeared.



The information on this website is based on our own research and personal experience, and is not a substitute for medical advice. Questions about your health and individual situation should be directed to your doctor.