Diabetes is known as a lifestyle disorder for a reason! It happens due to an unhealthy lifestyle and can be improved or prevented by correcting the wrong habits. Role of lifestyle change has been proven in the prevention of lifestyle diseases, including diabetes. Studies report that lifestyle interventions like exercise and a healthy diet can reduce HbA1c by 1% to 2%, improve serum cholesterol level, and facilitate weight management. Healthy lifestyle, however, is not just about healthy eating and being active. Diabetes can also be triggered by other lifestyle factors such as weight gain, smoking, lack of sleep, mental stress, and much more. Whether you are at risk of developing diabetes or already living with it, making the following changes to your lifestyle can benefit your overall well-being.
1.Watch what you eat
Diet control is an important aspect of therapeutic lifestyle change plan in diabetes management. Most clinical guidelines stress upon including more vegetables & fruits and limited intake of saturated fats in your diet. This not only helps you to keep your blood sugar down but also helps to reduce the chances of becoming overweight, which is an important risk factor for diabetes.
Interestingly, it’s not only about the type of food you eat, but also how much you eat and what time of the day, that matters! Also, having diabetes does not mean you have to avoid fats and sugar completely. The key to eating healthy with diabetes is to include a variety of foods from all food groups but in the right amounts.
|Foods to eat||Foods to avoid|
|Complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, whole wheat, oatmeal, fruits, vegetables, beans, and lentils (dals)||Processed carbohydrates such as sugar, pasta, white bread, flour, cookies, pastries, and other bakery items|
|Protein-rich foods like paneer, eggs, tofu, beans||Preserved or salty foods like sausages, nuggets, ready-to-cook packaged foods, pickles, papads|
|Unsaturated fats from olive oil, fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and nuts||Saturated fats from red meat, butter|
|Sweet foods with low GI index like dates, honey||Sugary foods with high GI index sweet drinks, ice creams, mithais|
2. Manage your stress
Did you know stress can alter your blood glucose levels directly? Being under too much mental stress can either make your blood sugar go too high or too low, and it is bad either way. There is no way we can eliminate stress from our lives. But, bringing some healthy changes in your lifestyle can help you to manage and cope with stress. Eating calorie-rich comfort food, smoking, watching a movie, or even drinking alcohol can give you some relief from stress, but that is only temporary. In the long run, these unhealthy ways of stress management can have a detrimental effect on your health. So, look for a healthy way to fight stress.
Healthy ways to manage stress
- Start with some fun exercise such as aerobics or dance
- Practice meditation
- Start a new hobby
- Try a massage therapy
- Try Yoga
3. Stay up-to-date with a health check-up
Diabetes is often termed as a ‘silent killer’ as it slowly starts affecting important organs in the body. If you have diabetes, you are at high risk of developing complications such as eye disease, foot ulcers, heart diseases, and kidney problems. Regular screening and early detection are the best measures to prevent these complications. This is the reason you must go for a regular eye check-up, foot assessment, and be up-to-date with your cardiac assessment.
4. Pay attention to your sleep schedule
Sleep deprivation is an important yet lesser-known risk factor that triggers blood glucose fluctuations. Experts believe that lack of sleep can reduce the secretion of insulin and thus put you at risk of diabetes. This effect is more prominent among poor sleepers who sleep for only about 4 to 5 hours per night. Moreover, lack of sleep can result in fatigue and make you crave for calorie-rich and sugary foods. Indulging in overeating can wreak havoc on the insulin production and blood sugar levels, as well as your body weight.
Experts suggest that adequate sleep is as important as healthy eating and regular exercise to maintain good health. An average adult needs to sleep at least for 7 to 8 hours per night for the body and brain to function well. If you have difficulty getting good sleep, try some natural remedies and lifestyle habits to promote sleep but stay away from sleeping pills.
Natural ways to get good sleep
- Turn off electronic devices 2 hours before bedtime
- Eat dinner at least 3 hours before sleeping
- Sprinkle some lavender oil on the pillow to relax your mind
- Exercise during the day
- Play soft music and have pleasant room ambiance
5. Do not skip your exercise
Did you know that you can reduce your risk of diabetes by 6% if you burn 500 calories? Exercise is an integral part of a diabetes management plan that gives importance to lifestyle interventions. In one recent study, the researchers found that skipping exercise even for a couple of days can worsen your health. Exercise increases sensitivity to insulin improves metabolism and reduces body fat, all of which together reduce the risk of diabetes. If you feel less motivated to start your exercise here are some interesting ways to get back to your activity routine
- Join a dance class
- Buy gym membership
- Exercise with your partner or friend
- Set fitness goals and give yourself rewards