With increasing prevalence at a global level, diabetes care has become more so relevant and important. The round-the-clock commitment will not only help you reduce your risk of life-threatening complications such as heart, nerve or foot problems but make you follow a healthy lifestyle. While diabetes self-management can be an overwhelming task, making a few lifestyle changes can work wonders on your sugar levels.
Here are top 7 lifestyle tips to keep your sugar levels in check and avoid complications:
TIP 1: Watch your weight
Being overweight can quite a problem when it comes to diabetes care. If you are overweight, your doctor will ask you to shed a few kilos. Although this might seem like a daunting task, a relative change of even 5-10 kilos too can make a difference. Consult your diabetes educator or doctor to make short-term goals that can help you in achieving your long-term goals. Please note even a small change to your lifestyle can make a difference. For instance, take the stairs instead of the elevator, take small breaks for walks in the office, etc.
Your Body Mass Index is a simple calculation using a person’s height and weight. The formula to calculate BMI = kg/m2 where kg is the person’s weight and m2 is the height in metres squared.
A BMI of 25.0 or plus is considered overweight, while the healthy range is 18.5 to 24.9. BMI is applicable to adults between the age of 18-65 years.
TIP 2: Eat right
Healthy eating can help in keeping your blood sugar levels to be where it needs to be. The two most important rules of eating right are to eat small portions yet being mindful about your intake and how many carbohydrates you’re eating. This can take you a long way in diabetes self-management. Consult your diabetes educator or a dietician to make sure your diabetes care diet has ample of fresh veggies and less of starches and sugary foods. You can explore diabetic-friendly snacks here.
In order to stay in track, put together a diet plan. Another important thing to understand when following a diet plan is that just because you are following a plan to manage your sugar levels does not mean you will not be able to enjoy your favourite foods. Eating right only means to be considerate in terms of what you eat and how much you eat.
Here are a few things you can consider when eating right:
- Eat a variety of foods from different food groups each day
- Fill your half plate with only fruits and vegetables such as apples, oranges, broccoli, and carrots
- Increase your intake of healthy carbohydrates that are found in brown rice, oatmeal, and cereals
- Cut down on salty and fatty foods.
- Choose lean meat such as poultry or fish and prefer grilling, baking, or steaming instead of frying for cooking options
TIP 3: Get going, get moving
When exercising is part of your daily regime, it not only helps to stabilize your sugar levels but also keeps other complications at bay. However, this also does not require you to be a part of a marathon or become a gym rat.
- Any form of physical activity for 30-40 minutes in most days of the week is recommended.
- If you are also someone who has the complaint of not having enough time, try dividing your time in 10 minutes of physical activity three times throughout the day.
- However, please speak to your diabetes educator before following any exercise routine.
For diabetics, the benefits of cannot be overstated. Exercising helps in weight loss/weight control, lowering cholesterol levels, reducing anxiety, and strengthening bones and muscles. It also boosts the sensitivity of insulin in the body, countering insulin resistance.
TIP 4: Avoid smoking
Everyone is aware of the grim statistics and must have heard it a million times over. Although if you still are not aware, smoking has a negative effect on every organ of your body. And, this further increases the risk of potential health complications. Smoking increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes and increases the risk of any of the following:
- Reduced flow of blood in the body, especially legs and feet further leading to ulcers, infections, and increase in the possibility of amputation
- Heart complications
- Nerve damage, or neuropathy
- Kidney damage
- Eye problems, further aggravating to blindness
Moreover, smoking makes your body resistant to insulin, thus leading to unmanageable sugar levels. Having diabetes in itself increases the risk for many health problems. Why add fuel to the fire by smoking and hamper your diabetes care?
TIP 5: Do not ignore your feet
Prolonged periods of high sugar levels cause nerve damage in the body and thus cause foot problems. The most common foot problems that occur are diabetic neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease. If it is left untreated, these small blisters and cuts on your feet can lead to serious infections. People with diabetes feel tingling, numbness, or loss of sensation in your feet.
In order to prevent such foot problems, you must:
- Wash your feet daily in lukewarm water and dry them gently, especially in between the toes.
- Avoid soaking your feet as it causes dryness in your feet
- Moisturize your feet and ankles daily with lotion or petroleum jelly. However, avoid in between toes as it can increase the chances of infection.
- Check for cuts, blisters, redness, calluses, redness, or swelling on a daily basis
- Consult your doctor if you feel the cut/blister is not starting to heal
- Avoid walking barefoot, inside or outside.
TIP 6: Schedule regular exams for eye and routine vaccines
Apart from monitoring your sugar levels daily at regular intervals, schedule for a full-body diabetes check-up at least four times a year. Additionally, make sure you schedule for yearly routine eye check-ups. Your doctor would ask about your nutrition and exercise regime during your diabetes check-up and might suggest a few small changes in your lifestyle for better diabetes care. Moreover, they will look for signs of diabetes-related complications – including symptoms of nerve damage, kidney damage, and others.
Another important part of your diabetes self-management plan is to go for regular vaccinations. Here are a few that must be taken after consulting your educator:
- Pneumonia vaccine, especially after 65 years of age
- Hepatitis B vaccine generally recommended to people who have not got the vaccine and are younger than 60
- Tetanus shots which are generally given in every 10 years
TIP 7: Commit to diabetes care
Diabetes is a progressive condition and as mentioned above needs round-the-clock commitment. Although consultation from diabetes educators and doctors along with support from peers and family can help you, learning diabetes self-management is important and part of diabetes care. Do your research and try learning everything about diabetes. Monitor your sugar levels and take medications as advised by the doctor. Ask for help whenever/wherever you need it.
Diabetes care is not a difficult journey. With a few small changes to your daily routine, it can be within your control. In fact, if you do your part of diabetes self-management, the condition will not stand your way in leading a happy and healthy life!
Disclaimer: All information, content, and material of this article is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.