November is National Diabetes month, which is dedicated to spreading awareness and education about a disease that impacts millions of Americans. Currently 26 million Americans are diabetic and another 79 million have prediabetes, or elevated blood sugar levels.
The lifestyle choices that you and your loved ones make can lower your risk for diabetes or diabetic complications. Below you'll find three tips that can help you to better manage or prevent this disease.
What you eat and when you eat will impact your glucose levels. Those living with diabetes or prediabetes should regulate meal times to avoid surprise spikes or drops in blood sugar levels. Maintain a high fiber, high nutrient, low-fat diet by focusing on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and avoiding foods that are high in salt, cholesterol, trans fat and saturated fat. Carbohydrates break down directly into glucose – the main factor in diabetes. Therefore, you should check food labels for the amount of total carbohydrates and sugars. Limit simple carbs such as starch or sugar, which can quickly impact your blood sugar. Opt instead for complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole-wheat products, which take longer to break down into glucose.
Regular exercise can help prevent the onset of diabetes and help those living with the disease to better manage their glucose levels. An added side benefit of regular exercise is weight loss. Shedding a few extra pounds can help diabetics reduce their risk for serious health complications. Always consult with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine. Moderate exercise will impact your glucose levels, so those currently taking insulin or medication may want to consult with their physicians and monitor blood sugar levels before and after a workout. Riding a bicycle and walking are two easy, low cost ways to get active. Maintaining two to three hours of physical activity per week will help you to stay healthy and keep your blood sugar regulated.
Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal is a great way to monitor your success in meeting diet, exercise, and weight loss goals. Log what you eat, carbohydrate counts, how long you exercised, and your glucose levels. You can also record how you feel each day. Maybe you feel energized and happy when you stick to your diet and exercise plan but lethargic and down when you overeat or don't fit in a walk or jog. Tracking your progress in this way can help you to set and meet small goals and identify helpful trends in your behavior over time. You may notice that you exercise most frequently on Wednesdays or that your blood sugar levels are good when you eat at a certain restaurant. This information can help you to maintain a healthier lifestyle.
The good news is that these diabetes care tips are healthy for just about everyone. So get your entire family on board with making healthier choices!