One of the myths surrounding diabetes is that it is the outcome of overindulgence in sweets, when in reality it’s a lifestyle disorder. Which is why fostering healthy lifestyle habits – including choosing the right diet and exercising regularly — is key to controlling diabetes which, left unchecked, could result in severe complications leading to disability and even death.

Complications from diabetes include cardiovascular disease, the risk of stroke and heart attack, nerve damage, kidney damage, eye damage, skin conditions and Alzheimer’s disease. Even if you are genetically prone to diabetes, a healthy lifestyle could prevent the onset of the disease and enable you to lead a healthy life.

Simply put, diabetes is a medical condition where the body is unable to produce adequate amounts of the hormone insulin required to convert sugar into energy. Here are some diet and exercise guidelines to keep the ailment under control and help you lead a safe and healthy life:

Eat every three hours to prevent hypoglycaemia

Eat once every three hours

Eating once every three hours helps regulate the amount of blood sugar in the body.

Keep your mid-meal snacks light and healthy—fruits, buttermilk, sprouts and nuts are great examples of healthy and nutritious snacks to munch on between meals. Eating after long gaps carries with it the danger of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) which is more dangerous than hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar). Hypoglycaemia may lead to dizziness and fainting and in extreme cases, coma and even death.

A high-fiber diet helps regulate blood sugar levels

healthy food

Fiber in your diet ensures that the body converts sugar into energy at a gradual pace, thus preventing a sugar spike. Since fiber slows down digestion, the consumption of high-fiber foods means that energy is released gradually into the body helping maintain correct blood sugar levels. Whole grains (whole wheat, oats, millets, barley, buckwheat, barley), legumes and whole fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables are examples high fiber foods. Packaged snacks and street foods, white bread, white rice and maida are some examples of refined foods you should consider eliminating from your diet.  

Step-by-step approach to controlling your blood sugar

pre-workout routine

Walking after lunch and dinner for 20-30 minutes is recommended for diabetes patients since it speeds up digestion and helps in the utilization of sugar. Also try and incorporate minor habits to boost physical activity. There are plenty of small changes you could make to your lifestyle to remain active throughout the day: taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking your car as far away as possible from office so that you can get in some exercise by way of walking are only some examples. Gradually, start following an exercise regimen in consultation with a certified fitness coach and don’t forget to remain committed to your fitness routine.

Slip into a proper pre-workout routine   

pre-workout snacks

A pre-workout meal is a must since it prevents hypoglycaemia. Examples of pre-workout meals include a fruit (if the session lasts less than an hour), or multigrain bread with peanut butter and a fruit (if you plan a longer session).

Avoid fruits like banana, chikoo, litchis and mangoes which have high sugar content and settle instead for fruits like apple, guava and papaya that are rich in fiber with moderate sugar. While fruits are unquestionably among the best foods for health, remember that moderation is the key to a healthy diabetic diet. Limit your fruit intake to 1-2 servings per day for the best results.

Monitoring insulin levels before every workout is obligatory for diabetes patients. Act immediately to raise your blood sugar level if it drops below 70. Eat three pieces candy (not to be confused toffee) promptly, drop workout plans for the time being, and eat a normal (non-diabetic) meal. You could return to the gym in the second half of the day if you feel up to it.

Remember to have a pre-bedtime meal

pre-bed meal

A pre-bedtime meal is a necessity for diabetes patients since it prevents nocturnal hypoglycaemia (drop in blood sugar levels while sleeping) which could have serious implications. A small glass of milk or a bowl of papaya are examples of a healthy pre-bedtime meal.

Rule out complications caused by thick blood by drinking enough water

Water regulates blood thickness

While recommended water intake differs from person to person depending on a range of factors, the minimum amount of water a person should consume stands at 8-10 glasses per day. In the case of diabetes patients, adequate water intake is especially important since it regulates the thickness of blood. Excessive blood sugar increases blood viscosity which could result in health complications—risks which water negates by diluting blood thickness.

Controlling diabetes is not merely about switching to a healthier diet or incorporating some physical activity into one’s daily routine; it is more about a complete lifestyle overhaul. Apart from exercise and diet, shedding excess weight and taking steps to manage both physical and mental stress are some of the other ways to keep the disease under check. A positive lifestyle change could not only help you control diabetes but also brings your medications down in the long run, helping you lead a better quality of life.  

diabetes

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Written by Nishita Kaushik

Nishita Kaushik

Nishita is a certified Diabetes Educator and Nutrition Expert who has worked across organisations like VLCC, Rediscover and Pachouli. As a HealthifyMe nutritionist, Nishita strives to help people meet their fitness objectives through what they eat.

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