Diet, Nutrition, Meals, and Snacks
A dietitian who is experienced in working with diabetics can be a great help with your dietary changes and eating schedule. Find a dietitian that you're comfortable with, and one that can help you create a meal plan that you can stick with for life. An eating plan should not be overly restrictive, and should allow you to incorporate some of your favorite foods, so that it is easier to sustain over time.Portion control is important (a calorie is still a calorie!), as is the combination of foods you eat during a meal or snack. Carbohydrates should be balanced between meals so that it's easier to maintain a more stable blood sugar. Your dietitian will help you plan your meals so that your blood sugar doesn't "spike". Cooking fresh foods is more preferable over eating refined, processed foods. Many great diabetic recipes and cookbooks are available.
The goal is to keep your blood sugar levels as steady as you can throughout the day, rather than experiencing big spikes or huge lows. Smaller, regularly-spaced meals with approximately the same amount of carbohydrates in each meal is a plan that works well for many people with diabetes.
Exercise has many benefits for everyone, especially so for diabetics. It helps to control blood glucose levels while also improving blood pressure, cholesterol, circulation, and even mood! Stick with a regular exercise routine and make it a habit. If you find yourself getting bored with your routine and want to change it up a little, talk first with your doctor. Diabetics can do most of the same things as people without diabetes, however if you have additional health issues or complications from diabetes, there are some exercises your doctor may recommend that you don't do.
Unless you have health conditions that prohibit it, exercise should be the type that gets your heart pounding - strolling along a flat pathway, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, is a lovely way to spend some time outdoors... and it's certainly better than no exercise at all... but exercise that would be more beneficial would be to hike up to the top of a hill and enjoy the views from up high... or play a game of tennis or football with friends. Aerobic exercise is wonderful for fitness!
You can also stock up on a variety of exercise videos to do at home, on those days where you just need a change or when the weather makes it hard to exercise outside. Try new things to keep your interest, like yoga, tai chi, dance, or the popular zumba.
Medication or Insulin
Not everyone with type 2 diabetes will need medication or insulin. However, if they are a part of your diabetes treatment plan, be sure to take them as prescribed and on schedule. Learn to recognize the signs of hypoglycemia (excessively low blood sugar) or hyperglycmia (excessively high blood sugar). If you notice repeated episodes where your blood sugar level isn't where it should be, bring it up with your doctor. Your dosage may need adjustment.
Monitoring Blood Glucose
Keeping blood sugar levels in near-normal range is critical. High blood sugar, left untreated, can result in many other diabetes-related complications. Checking your blood glucose levels on a regular basis will help to ensure that they stay under control. Check your blood sugar on the schedule provided by your doctor, when you're not feeling "right" (your blood sugar could be too high or too low), if your eating or exercise patterns change, or if you miss a dose of medication or insulin.
Diabetics often face challenges when it comes to their bodies. It is vitally important to keep blood glucose levels well-managed since continued high blood sugar can lead to a host of other health complications.
Exercise can help to control blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as improve circulation, which can help with dry skin. Dry skin might not seem like a big deal, but diabetes skin care is important -- with diabetics, wounds tend to heal more slowly, and that includes cracks or tears in the skin. Infection can set in and cause its own set of problems.
Diabetes foot care is also important. Dry skin is often found on the feet as well. Because our feet are used so often they're prone to more injuries and wounds too.
Take time to relax. Stress can negatively impact your health in many ways. With diabetics, already battling high blood sugar, stress releases hormones in your body that also increase blood sugar. Many people alter their eating and exercise habits when stressed -- either eating too much, skipping meals, eating the wrong things, skipping a workout, etc -- which can lead to bouts of hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia.depression or to unusual mood swings. Also be alert to the "smaller" stresses: on-the-job stress, child care stress, the stress of the holidays, etc. Keep notes on your stress level when you check your blood glucose. You may start to notice a pattern that can help you identify times of stress, so that you can take steps to counteract them.
There are many ways to combat stress. Remove yourself from the source of stress, if possible. Do something simple that you enjoy, even if it's just relaxing in a hot bath or curling up with a good book. Talk to a counsellor or therapist. Try yoga, relaxation therapy, or massage. Stay away from caffeine. Take up a hobby you'll enjoy (but don't let it become another source of stress!). And above all, continue with healthy eating and exercise, since both help to control blood sugar and contribute to an overall feeling of well-being.
Put diabetes self care at the top of your priority list. While it does take some adjustment and of course, a lot of commitment, ultimately it leads to better health. And with better health, it becomes easier to get out and enjoy ourselves!