Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic condition that affects over 415 million people across the world.
The main characteristic of diabetes is elevated blood sugar levels and if the condition is not well-managed, it can lead to serious complications.
Whether you suffer from type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes, blood-sugar regulation is vital to prevent making your condition worse. But how exactly can you keep your blood glucose levels within the normal range throughout the day?
Although every case of diabetes is unique, there are lots of general recommendations about how it can be managed that work for the majority of people with diabetes.
Following these top tips below will help you to manage your blood glucose and blood cholesterol levels to improve general health and well-being.
Alongside a healthy diet, regular movement is another great way to manage your diabetes. Exercise can positively influence your blood pressure and the levels of glucose, insulin, and triglycerides in your bloodstream.
Start slowly with some gentle walking or swimming for 10-15 minutes a day. If and when you feel ready to do so, you can increase your exercise routine to 30 minutes a day or you can adjust the intensity to suit your preferences.
It’s important that you keep an eye on your glucose levels during your exercise sessions. High-tensity exercise can cause your blood sugar levels to dip drastically, and this might make you dizzy or disoriented.
If you’re exercising for more than 10-15 minutes, keep a small snack nearby. If you start to feel dizzy and your blood glucose drops significantly during the workout, you can top up your energy levels and raise your blood glucose back to an acceptable level.
Great mid-workout snacks include a banana, granola bar, or sports drink. You can also take a glucose gel or tablet if your doctor has provided you with some of those.
If you prefer, you can split up your exercise sessions into smaller, more frequent blocks. For example, instead of doing a 40-minute workout, you could take four short 10-minute walks throughout the day.
Search for ways to increase your movement that aren’t necessarily exercise, too. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park further away from the store. Walk the long route home.
There are lots of ways to increase your movement each day and this is one of the best ways to not only improve your blood glucose regulation but also your physical and mental health.
Choose Healthy Carbohydrates
When you eat carbohydrates, it causes a significant increase in your blood sugar levels. That’s why it’s important that you choose the right kinds of carbohydrates when you have diabetes.
Healthy carbohydrates include:
- Whole grains, such as rolled oats, brown rice, wholewheat pasta, buckwheat, and quinoa
- Fruits and vegetables
- Lentils, chickpeas, and beans
While increasing your intake of healthy carbs, you should also reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, white rice, and ultra-processed, sugary snacks. It’s best to stick to minimally-processed options that are rich in plant-based fiber.
Choose Healthy Fats
Fats are a satiating macronutrient that we need in our diets. Just like there are different kinds of carbohydrates, there are different types of dietary fats.
When you have diabetes, try to focus on eating more of the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Foods that contain a lot of healthy unsaturated fats include avocados, oily fish, nuts, seeds, and plant oils.
Wherever possible, avoid foods that contain high amounts of saturated fats, such as red meat, butter, and ultra-processed cakes and pastries. Consuming too many saturated fats has been associated with increased blood pressure and a higher risk of heart disease.
Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Eating high-carbohydrate foods that contain a lot of simple sugars can cause your blood glucose levels to spike. This makes it more difficult for you to regulate your blood sugar levels and may worsen your condition over time.
You don’t need to completely cut out all sugars. It’s almost impossible to consume no carbohydrates at all. However, being mindful of the types of foods that you’re eating can make a huge difference in your diabetes management.
Switch out processed sugar-filled snacks for healthier alternatives, such as fresh fruit, yogurt, crackers, or rice cakes. Avoid sugary sodas and smoothies, and switch over to water, herbal tea, or coffee.
Instead of adding table sugar to your cereal and hot drinks, switch to a natural sweetener, such as monk fruit syrup, stevia, or erythritol. These sweeteners don’t have the same impact on your blood glucose levels but they still provide the same delicious sweet flavor as table sugar.