HomeHEALTHThe Dos and Don'ts of Dieting With Diabetes

The Dos and Don’ts of Dieting With Diabetes

If you or a loved one have recently been diagnosed with diabetes, depending on your type, your doctor may suggest weight loss and certain lifestyle changes to help bring your blood sugar levels down to a manageable range. can give.

It’s not always an easy task, and you’ll need to do more than just follow a fad diet for a few weeks. But research shows that the right combination of exercise, portion control and healthy balanced foods is the key to helping you achieve your goals and keep the weight off long-term.

Here are some expert do’s and don’ts to get you started.

Find a Diet That Works for You

If you have type 2 diabetes, you have to pay close attention to insulin resistance and your body’s inability to properly use the hormone insulin to break down blood sugar (glucose) for energy.

The American Diabetes Association typically recommends losing “5% to 10% of total body weight,” according to Shirisha Awadhanula, MD, an endocrinologist at the Cleveland Clinic.

“As you lose weight, your insulin resistance may actually decrease, and this can improve and potentially even reverse the process of type 2 diabetes,” she says. But in order to lose weight and keep it off forever, you’ll need to find the right diet for you.

“I tell [patients] The best diet is the diet you can follow.

No matter how you plan to shift your lifestyle toward a more diabetes-friendly diet, Avadhanula says it’s important to focus on three basic principles:

  • Cut down on simple carbohydrates.
  • Cut out refined sugar from your diet.
  • Get in the habit of reading food labels.

Find Healthy Food Swaps

An easy way to start a healthier lifestyle is to find nutritious alternatives to the types of foods or snacks you enjoy.

For example, if you regularly eat simple carbs like white bread and pasta, you risk large blood sugar spikes that make your insulin resistance worse. Instead, swap them out for items with complex carbs, such as multigrain bread or whole-wheat pasta. They contain more fiber, nutrients and vitamins that are better for your body.

“I always say to my patients, ‘You know, if you really enjoy pizza, the best thing you can do is have cauliflower dough instead of real flour,'” says Avadhanula.

And if white rice or other starchy carbs like yams, yucca, or plantains are part of your day-to-day diet, you don’t need to cut them out completely, says Sue-Ellen Anderson-Haines, a registered dietitian nutritionist. And say. Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist.

Instead, she says you should cut your portions in half and include more green leafy vegetables or fruits in your meals. Better yet, you can swap them out for more fibrous carb options, such as brown rice or quinoa.

don’t skip meals

If your goal is to drop a few pounds, don’t skip meals or go too long without eating. This can do more harm than good, especially for your blood sugar levels, says Anderson-Haines. In fact, it may have the opposite effect.

,[If] You’re not eating, your body says, ‘Oh, blood sugar is dropping, energy is going down, we need to keep this person alive.’ The liver releases sugar into the blood. And if you have diabetes, that’s not necessarily a good thing because you already have a problem with insulin resistance with sugar in your bloodstream. but your heart [will] Say, ‘Well, you’re not eating, so I’ll just keep putting sugar in your blood.’ ,

Don’t Cut Out Carbs Completely

Your body needs carbs, says Anderson-Haines, especially since “it’s a major fuel for your brain and red blood cells.” “It’s called a macronutrient for a reason.”

But you have to take care of how much and what kind of food you eat. To make your meals well-balanced, stack your carbs with proteins and good fats. This will help you avoid large blood sugar spikes after each meal.

There’s no way to tell how many grams of carbs you should be eating per day or per meal. That’s because how much you need will depend on your body size and how active you are throughout the day.

But to simplify, Anderson-Haines says, for each meal, you should fill a quarter of your plate with complex carbohydrates “about the size of your palm.” Same goes for protein. For the remaining half, fill it with fresh fruits and vegetables.

If you have type 1 diabetes, your body does not produce insulin. So, you have to take insulin supplements through medicines. In such cases, it is important to know how many grams of carbs you are consuming in order to calculate your insulin dose. If this is the case, talk to a registered dietitian or your doctor about how to calculate carbs for your daily meals according to your body’s needs.

find ways to control stress

When you’re stressed, your body releases a bunch of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline into your bloodstream. This activates your fight-or-flight response, but it also prevents insulin from working properly.

“You can eat a healthy diet, but if you’re overly stressed, your blood sugar can spike several points,” says Anderson-Haines.

This can worsen your insulin resistance and increase complications related to diabetes. In fact, it can affect your mood and emotional health. This can then affect how you take care of yourself.

It’s important to find ways to relieve your stress. Physical exercise can boost feel-good hormones in your body. You can also try mind-body techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, massage or tai chi.

If you feel that stress is affecting your ability to manage your diabetes, tell your doctor about it. They can recommend or encourage you to talk with a licensed therapist or counselor.

take care of mental health

“Diabetes burnout is a real thing, and people get so tired of taking care of their diabetes that they don’t want to do it anymore,” says Anderson-Haines. In some, burnout can trigger depression or anxious feelings.

If you’re experiencing it, let your health care team know. Contact a mental health specialist, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, for help.

If you have emotional reactions to food, making lifestyle changes to control your diabetes can be a difficult task.

“Emotional eating comes on like, you know, during the holidays or at parties. You smell food, you see food on TV, and you want to eat. That’s a trigger. It’s not necessarily hunger. It’s more like, ‘I want to eat this because I see it,'” Anderson-Haines says.

To combat this, she says it’s good to know your hunger cues.

“The hunger scale is a great way to make sure you’re really hungry and put emotional eating on the back burner,” says Anderson-Haines.

This might include asking yourself things like: Am I hungry? Have I eaten enough? For example, if your stomach grumbles within an hour of eating, she says it could just be a sign that you may not have eaten enough.

get plenty of sleep

“When you don’t sleep, blood pressure goes up. Your blood sugar goes up too. It all works together,” Anderson-Haines says.

According to the CDC, if you get less than 7 hours of sleep, it may be harder for you to keep your blood sugar levels under control. This is because it can:

  • leave you hungry the next day
  • Decrease your ability to feel full. This may cause you to eat more calories than you need.
  • are more likely to eat unhealthy foods high in carbs and sugar, such as junk food and candy

Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time as much as possible to get restful sleep. Avoid napping after 3 p.m. and stay away from caffeinated drinks later in the day. Put away your phone and other electronic devices before going to bed, and keep your bedroom dark and quiet for better sleep quality.

get more physical exercise

In addition to strengthening your muscles and bones, research shows that exercise can help lower blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity for people with diabetes. This eventually improves your insulin resistance and helps you control your body weight.

“Exercise can potentially improve your mood and sleep as well,” says Avadhanula.

All forms of exercise and movement can improve your health. But experts have found that if you combine weight training with a cardio workout, it’s especially helpful for lowering your blood sugar.

One study found that even low-impact exercise like walking can help. In studies, when people with diabetes walked for 2 hours or more per week, their risk of heart disease decreased.

don’t do it alone

To manage your diabetes and keep your blood sugar levels under control, you’ll need to commit to making big lifestyle changes, pay close attention to what you eat, and learn a lot of new things along the way. Remember Continuity is key to this. But the process can be overwhelming.

“It’s been a tough journey,” says Avadhanula. But a good support system can make a big difference.

“Pair up with a friend or family member who can hold you accountable. It can keep you motivated and positive, because going through this alone is tough.”

You can also reach out to diabetes support groups near you or online. This can be a great way to connect with others who are going through similar issues, and share tips, advice, and tools to manage your condition and your overall health.

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