It seems there are endless instructions and rules once you've been diagnosed with diabetes. Here are the top 10 ways you can improve your blood sugar, and overall health, on a daily basis.
Start the day off right
Breakfast is and will always be the most important meal of the day. It’s especially important for individuals with type 2 diabetes. Breakfast is the perfect opportunity to stabilize blood sugar and provide the body and mind with the boost they need.
Research has found time and again that those who skip breakfast experience blood sugar spikes throughout the remainder of their day. Those who eat a healthy breakfast enjoy more stable blood sugar all day long.
Identify & avoid sugar
Condiments like ketchup, salad dressings, and barbeque sauces are all sources of hidden sugar. Even “healthy foods” like yogurt, granola, canned fruit, and fruit juices can be full of sugar, too. It is crucial for diabetics to check nutritional labels to make sure manufacturers are not sneaking added sugar into your diet.
Play with your food!
Take your favorite foods and recipes, and get creative with alternative ingredients and preparations. For example, instead of a piece of white toast with jam, try a slice of whole wheat toast topped with mashed avocado and an egg. Still delicious, but includes fiber, protein, and good fats!
Greek yogurt is an ideal swap in dozens of recipes! Instead of sour cream, try a dollop of plain Greek yogurt on tacos, or use it to make Spinach-Artichoke Dip. In place of mayonnaise, fold it into chicken or tuna salad, or mix with a pouch of ranch dressing mix for a delicious dip.
French fries, anyone? Yes, it’s possible! Root vegetables like rutabaga, turnips, and sweet potatoes can be made into fries just like white potatoes can. Slice them up, toss with olive oil and bake in the oven to crispy perfection.
By planning your meals, you benefit in several ways. Firstly, you know exactly which recipes you are going to prepare and when, which saves the stress of putting together a meal on the fly. Also, you make one trip to the grocery store instead of multiple trips for an item or two here and there.
Thirdly, you save money in the store because you are only buying the ingredients that you need. You are also helping to reduce food waste because everything you buy has a specific purpose. Lastly, you save your health by cooking real food at home rather than getting dinner from a drive-thru or ordering delivery.
Drink plenty of water
When you are drinking enough water, you will feel the positive effects. Your thought process will be faster, you will be more focused, and be able to concentrate more. You will feel more alert, awake, and refreshed, with more energy than before.
Drinking water also helps to flush excess glucose from the blood, and helps your body keep blood sugar lower and more stable. This makes drinking water absolutely essential for diabetics. Check out these tips for tricking yourself into drinking more water!
Get moving (even if it’s just a little bit)
Regular physical activity contributes nearly countless positive effects on your health, especially for those with diabetes. It helps your body make the best use of insulin and glucose, which controls blood sugar more effectively. In fact, exercise can reduce blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours after working out!
Regular physical activity also lowers blood pressure, improves circulation, and helps control cholesterol levels, thereby reducing risk of heart attack and stroke.
Exercise also helps to strengthen muscles and bones, along with burning extra body fat. It’s a great way to boost energy levels and reduce stress, too! Research has shown that even a short walk each day can make a major difference in your health.
Smoking is not a healthy habit for anyone, but diabetics are at increased risk of suffering smoking’s dangerous effects. Research has found that A1C levels rise with repeated exposure to nicotine. Long-term elevated blood sugar levels increase the risk of serious complications like kidney failure, heart attack, or stroke.
Not only does a bad night’s sleep affect your mood, it can also affect blood sugar. The body’s reaction to lack of sleep can mimic insulin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs due to the cell’s inability to utilize insulin. This results in high blood sugar. Imagine if your blood sugar was spiking every single night simply because you were having trouble sleeping… yikes!
Put down the electronics
These days it seems impossible to have human interaction without the help of electronics. Cell phones, computers, laptops, tablets, TVs, they are literally everywhere. While these devices add convenience to our lives, we can become dependent upon them. Try limiting your time on electronics and spending that time with family or friends face to face. Or, spend some time on self-care; a pedicure, a round of golf, even a drive with the radio turned up can do wonders!
Keep stress under control
When you’re stressed, your blood sugar spikes. Cortisol, the body’s “stress hormone,” is released and instructs the body’s cells to either absorb that extra glucose for immediate energy, or store it for later. Frequent high cortisol levels can contribute to insulin resistance, increasing risk of Type II diabetes. Try meditation, massage therapy, yoga, or walks on the beach. Talk to family and friends about your stress; spending time with loved ones can do wonders for stress levels.
We hope these tips empower you to make the right choices for your blood sugar. Those choices, big or small, make an enormous impact on your health every day!