Diabetes is one of the biggest health issues facing our society today. At the same time, it is something that can be controlled or even reversed with just a few simple changes and tweaks to your lifestyle.
As a home health and hospice provider, one of the most pernicious diseases I see is diabetes. While it may not seem like a big deal, it’s one of the leading causes of a whole host of health problems. We have taken care of patients who have lost limbs, their sight and even their lives as a result of their inability to take care of their blood sugar levels. While medicine can help, there are also some simple dietary and lifestyle tips that you can use to help stop the progression of your disease, prevent it from doing any more damage to your body and in some cases actually help your body heal itself.
Check your blood sugar regularly
Once you have been diagnosed with diabetes, regularly check your blood sugar. You want it to stay between 70-100 milligrams per deciliter while fasting and 100-140 mg/dL after a meal. If you find it outside that range frequently, it’s time to evaluate foods and lifestyle to help keep it in that range
Eat foods that have a low glycemic index
Did you know that the Atkins diet was originally meant for diabetics? There are many foods there that are good choices — meats, cheeses, full fat dairy and green leafy vegetables are fantastic. Be sure to avoid white grains, sugars, candy and potatoes because they can spike your blood sugar quickly. We are looking for complex carbohydrates that can fill you up without causing problems. A great resource for this is www.glycemicindex.com. You can find all sorts of great information there.
Beware of low fat foods
Low fat sounds healthy, and for many people it can be, but low fat doesn’t necessarily mean low calorie or low sugar. In fact, often times to help the taste of things after they pull out the fat, food companies will add in sugar to compensate. As a result, it’s still unhealthy, just in a different way.
Avoid sugary beverages at all costs
This includes juice, soda, blended coffee or tea drinks with a high sugar content, or anything else that is liquid and is high in fructose or sucrose. Juices seem innocent enough — it's an orange in a glass, after all — but it doesn’t provide any bulk like the fruit does. As a result, you take in the calories and sugars but don’t fill up. You have to eat additional food to fill up.
Mix up your diet
It is easy to get so bored with what you eat that the temptation to break your diet can become too great. Instead of sticking to the same meals, mix things up. You can even (in moderation) eat some of the forbidden foods of diabetes, just make sure that it’s not too much and it’s in conjunction with some other great options. If you’re really craving a baked potato, try substituting a Yukon Gold for a Russet and have a nice lean steak and some steamed broccoli. If you are dying for some sourdough bread, have a slice with some whole wheat pasta and a hearty tomato and meat sauce.
As you make these changes to your diet, make sure to get out and get the proper exercise you need. Diet is responsible for the vast majority of your health, but exercise is also very important. Find activities that you enjoy and do them regularly. Exercise doesn’t have to be going and lifting weights at the gym or running. It can be a walk in the park or anything that gets you up and moving, as long as you enjoy it.