When you’re diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, life changes. You’re suddenly responsible for managing this complicated condition every day – and it can be challenging to get your diabetes under control.
However, there’s actually a lot you can do to improve your health and manage your type 2 diabetes. And many of those actions are surprisingly easy to work into your daily life.
If you have type 2 diabetes, try making the following 4 easy changes, all of which can help you be more in control of your condition.
1. Limit How Often You Eat High Glycemic Index Foods
Diet is hugely important for every type 2 diabetic. And your doctor has likely already discussed the importance of choosing good-for-you foods over fast food and sugary sweets.
But in addition to eating an overall healthy, well-rounded diet, anyone with type 2 diabetes can also stick to a low glycemic diet.
What’s a low glycemic diet? It’s choosing to eat foods that are low on the glycemic index – rather than ones that are high on the glycemic index. Foods that are high on the glycemic index are bad for anyone with type 2 diabetes because they have a bigger glycemic load. Or, to put it simply, they can negatively affect your glucose levels.
High glycemic index foods are typically processed foods. Any food items with white sugar and flour ranks higher on the glycemic index, and so do very starchy, carb-heavy foods. So, to start eating a low glycemic diet, you’ll want to choose foods like fresh or frozen fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and proteins like nuts and beans.
This single change can have a huge benefit. Choosing low glycemic index foods over high glycemic index foods can help you better manage type 2 diabetes, aid weight loss, and leave you feeling better overall.
2. Exercise Regularly
Another easy change you can make that’s recommended for every type 2 diabetic is adding exercise into your weekly routine. Like a healthy diet, regular exercise is important for absolutely everyone – but when it comes to type 2 diabetes, it can make a huge difference in how your condition is managed.
Exercise is so important to controlling type 2 diabetes that adding it into your daily life can benefit you even if you don’t lose a single pound. According to medical experts, physical activity causes muscle contractions, which push glucose out of the bloodstream and into cells, which in turn lowers your blood sugar levels.
And you can choose any intensity for your exercise routine. Strength training with weightlifting, hand weight exercises, or resistance bands just a few times a week can help keep your blood sugar levels more stable. If you want to kick things up a notch, the British Diabetes Association finds that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is great for glucose control in diabetics.
It’s often recommended that those with type 2 diabetes lose weight to manage their health. A regular exercise routine, in addition to offering the benefits mentioned above, will help you do exactly that. Even simple exercises, like walking around the block, will help you begin to lose weight and improve your health.
3. Stop Drinking Alcohol
Did you know that alcohol can be problematic for anyone with type 2 diabetes? While it might seem harmless, even a single drink can cause problems.
Most type 2 diabetics rely on insulin or oral medications to manage their condition. And drinking alcohol while on these medications can cause dangerous decreases in blood sugar levels.
As WebMD explains, drinking alcohol means your liver will work to remove the alcohol you’ve consumed from your blood. While your liver is focused on that job, it isn’t able to properly regulate your blood sugar. As a result, you may find yourself getting dizzy, disoriented, and sleepy when you drink. Should your blood sugar drop too low, your health could be in danger.
And here’s another alcohol-related problem: when you drink, you’re likely to lose willpower. Alcohol can lower your ability to resist overeating, and it can leave you searching for unhealthy foods to fill your stomach. Indulging in unhealthy choices can make matters even worse when it comes to your blood sugar.
4. Lower Your Stress Level
Living with type 2 diabetes is stressful – you have to eat carefully, manage your body’s blood sugar, and take medications. Add life’s normal stress-causing situations into the mix, and you could find yourself very, very stressed out.
And high stress levels can actually make type 2 diabetes more difficult to control and manage. When you’re stressed out, you’re less likely to exercise, avoid alcohol, and make smart food choices. Your body will be in fight or flight mode too, which can increase blood sugar and affect your sensitivity to insulin.
Research has found that when people with type 2 diabetes are stressed out or under pressure, glucose increases. The only way to combat this is to lower your stress levels and try to relax.
So, if you’re feeling agitated, overwhelmed, or simply stressed, work on coping methods. You can try meditation, positive thinking, exercise, or even time with friends to lower your stress levels. Find a solution that truly helps you relax. Then, you won’t have to worry as much about what’s happening to your health.
Take Control of Your Type 2 Diabetes Today
Managing type 2 diabetes isn’t easy. It’s a full-time, everyday job for anyone who’s living with the condition. However, being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes doesn’t mean you have to constantly worry.
With small, simple changes like those mentioned here, you can better control your diabetes. And ultimately, with the right changes, you’ll be able to live a healthier life.