Staying Healthy with Type 2 Diabetes

by MichelleR on August 13, 2012

Step 1
The National Diabetes Education Program suggests eating correctly, using a diabetic meal plan. It’s important to make healthy food choices to keep your blood glucose levels in check. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet. Avoid foods high in sugar, fat and salt. Incorporate lean meats, beans and skim milk into your diet. Eat smaller portions of meat, fish and poultry.
Choose carbs carefully:
Diabetes doesn’t mean you have to cut carbs completely. Choose carbohydrates that break down in the body slowly, providing steady energy. Reach for whole grains, beans, nuts, and fresh vegetables and fruits. Yes, you can eat fruit even though it’s sweet. It’s about eating the right amounts of carbohydrates at each meal. A registered dietitian can help you learn how much is right for you.

Say NO to salt:
Reduce the salt in your diet. It may help lower blood pressure and protect your kidneys. Not salting the food on your plate may not be enough. Most of the salt in Americans’ diets comes from processed foods. Avoid convenience foods and use fresh ingredients when you can. Season with herbs and spices instead of salt when you cook.
Adults age 51 and older, and individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease should reduce their sodium intake to 1,500 mg a day — that’s less than half a teaspoon of salt.

Pick Super foods, Don’t Supersize:
People with diabetes who smoke are two times more likely to die prematurely than those who don’t. Quitting helps your heart and lungs. It also lowers your blood pressure and risk of stroke, heart attack, nerve damage, and kidney disease. Ask your doctor about help for quitting tobacco.

Step 2
Take your medications on time. Do not skip medications or take them later in the day than prescribed. If you forget to take medications on a regular basis, set an alarm or take at a regular time, such as immediately after getting out of bed.
Get enough sleep:
Getting too much or too little sleep can increase your appetite and cravings for high-carb foods. That can lead to weight gain, increasing your risk for complications such as heart disease. So shoot for seven or eight hours of sleep a night. If you have sleep apnea, treating it can improve your sleep and lower your blood sugar levels.

Step 3
The American Diabetes Association suggests checking your blood sugar regularly. Wash your hands and use a lancing device to prick your finger for a drop of blood. Place the drop on your blood glucose meter’s strip. Wait for the results. Record the results on your blood sugar log (example given in last blog post) to track blood sugar levels. Share the log with your health care provider on your next doctor’s visit to check how well your diabetic care plan is working.
Monitor your blood sugar daily:
You know you’re supposed to check it. And actually checking your blood glucose levels can help you avoid diabetes complications, like nerve pain, or keep them from getting worse. Checking it can also help you see how foods and activities affect you, and if your treatment plan is working. Your doctor can help you set a target glucose level range. The closer you get to your target, the better you’ll feel

Step 4
Exercise daily to maintain proper blood sugar levels. Physical activity naturally lowers blood sugar levels. Staying in shape will keep your weight at its proper level. According to the International Diabetes Foundation, losing weight will allow your body to use insulin better. Swim, run or hike daily, or include group exercise options, such as an aerobics or yoga class for additional camaraderie.
Loose Weight if you need to:
Start small. If you are overweight, shedding just a few pounds can improve the body’s ability to use insulin. It’ll help lower your blood sugar and improve your blood pressure and blood fats. You’ll also have more energy. Ready? Aim to burn more calories than you eat. To start, try cutting fat and calories from your diet, such as chips or fries

Be Active:
Pick something you like — walking, dancing, biking, or just marching in place while you’re on the phone. Do it a half-hour a day; work up to that if you need to. Exercise can help you lower your cardiovascular risks, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels, and keep your weight down. Exercise also relieves stress and may help you cut back on diabetes medication.

Overall Health

Manage Stress:
When you have diabetes, stress can cause your blood glucose levels to rise. Get rid of whatever physical or mental stresses you can. Learn coping techniques to deal with others. Relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation may be especially effective if you have type 2 diabetes.

Take care of bumps and bruises:
Diabetes raises your risk of infection and slows healing, so treat even simple cuts and scrapes quickly. Properly clean your wound and use an antibiotic cream and sterile bandage. See a doctor if it’s not better in a few days. Check your feet every day for blisters, cuts, sores, redness, or swelling. Moisturize them to prevent cracks.

Quit Smoking:
People with diabetes who smoke are two times more likely to die prematurely than those who don’t. Quitting helps your heart and lungs. It lowers your blood pressure and risk of stroke, heart attack, nerve damage, and kidney disease. Ask your doctor about help for quitting tobacco.

Set up Doctor’s Visits:
Expect to see your doctor two to four times a year. If you take insulin or need help balancing your blood sugar levels, you may need to visit more often. Also get a yearly physical and eye exam. You should be screened for eye, nerve, and kidney damage, and other complications. See a dentist twice a year. And be sure to tell all health care providers that you have diabetes.

Heart Disease Risk and Diabetes:
Heart disease can be a serious diabetes complication. Keep an eye on your risk by getting these ABCs checked:
A1C level. This is a measure of your average blood sugar control for the last 2-3 months. You may need it checked two or more times a year. Talk to your doctor about setting a goal.
Blood pressure. Goal: below 130/80 mm Hg.
Cholesterol. Goal: LDL below 100 mg/dl; HDL above 40 mg/dl; and triglycerides below 150 mg/dl.


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