When it comes to diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes, quite a few things can keep the disease in check. The primary goal of diabetes management is to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and lifestyle choices play a crucial role in that. Many experts see diet, exercise and medication as the key components of any diabetes management plan, though other factors may also play a role.
Diet for Diabetes Management
It's advisable for anyone with diabetes to work with a registered dietitian or nutritionist to create a diabetes meal plan. The plan should include healthy choices such as whole grains, plentiful fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy options and smaller portions of lean meat. Eating foods with more fiber and less fat and salt is also healthy as part of a diabetes management plan.
Exercise for Diabetes Management
Regular exercise is crucial for regulating blood sugar levels and just keeping the body healthy overall. Most experts recommend striving for 30 to 60 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. However, the physical activity doesn’t have to be something that’s above your fitness level. Going on a fast-paced walk, for example, can be great exercise for people with diabetes.
Medication for Diabetes Management
Even with diet and exercise, some people have trouble managing their blood sugar levels. That’s why doctors sometimes recommend being on medication to control blood sugar. It's important to work closely with your doctor to find the right medicine or combination of medicines to treat your diabetes. And, always take it according to the doctor’s recommendations, even when you feel good.
Other Steps for Diabetes Management
Checking blood sugar regularly is an important step for many with diabetes, and some people will want to check their blood pressure, as well. Stress management, quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy weight can all help with diabetes management, too. In addition, people with diabetes may be able to avoid problems with some of the areas of the body that are prone to complications from diabetes by staying on top of dental health and checking your feet regularly for any cuts, blisters, swelling or other abnormalities.
SOURCES: U.S. National Diabetes Education Program; U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases