More than 34 million Americans live with diabetes, and another 88 million are in the prediabetes stage. Unfortunately, many of them will accept their diagnosis as a part of life and not take the necessary steps to take control of their health. We don’t want you to be another statistic. Making some lifestyle changes for diabetes may help you in better diabetes management.
Dr. Farah Khan and our team of experts at Millennium Park Medical Associates in Chicago, Illinois, specialize in treating diabetes, as well as equipping our patients with the education and tools they need to live a healthy life. Here are a few things you can do to keep improving your diabetes management.
Eat a healthy diet
Now more than ever, what you eat matters because everything you eat impacts the levels of sugar in your blood. While there aren’t technically any foods that are completely off-limits, there are some foods you should try to eat more of than others.
For example, eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats as well as low-fat dairy products and lean meats can go a long way in supporting your blood sugar levels and your overall health.
Always keep in mind that your body turns carbohydrates into sugar, so follow our (or your dietitian’s) guidance for how many carbs to include in your daily care plan and consume at each meal and snack.
You don’t have to climb a rock wall or run a 5K, but you do have to start moving. Even seemingly simple exercises like brisk walks or bike rides can have an impact. What matters is that you’re getting your heart rate up for around 30 minutes. Not only does exercise help control your blood sugar, but it can also reduce your risk for heart disease. Bonus: You’ll shed a few extra pounds and find it’s easier to manage stress.
Kick the habit
Diabetes increases your risk for health problems like heart disease, eye disease, stroke, kidney problems, blood vessel disease, nerve damage, and foot problems. If you’re also a smoker, those chances skyrocket. Smoking can also make it much more difficult to get regular exercise. Talk to us about some ways you can start kicking the smoking habit.
Manage your stress
Stress has a direct impact on your blood sugar — the higher your stress, the higher your blood sugar. Being anxious can also make it hard to focus on your health goals, like working out regularly, eating a nutritious diet, and taking your medication. We guide you toward practical stress-management techniques, such as deep breathing and positive visualization that will help you conquer your stress.
While most wines and spirits are carb-free, many mixed drinks are packed with hidden carbs that you don’t even realize you’re guzzling down, which makes it hard to control your blood sugar. On top of that, drinking alcohol without eating can lead to low blood sugar, as the liver prioritizes detoxing the alcohol ahead of maintaining your normal blood sugar levels.
If you do drink, stick to this rule of thumb from the American Diabetes Association: one drink per day if you’re a woman, and two drinks per day if you’re a man. It’s also a good idea to check your blood sugar before having a drink.
Don’t skip your checkups
It’s easy to skip your annual physicals when you’re healthy. But once you have diabetes, it’s crucial that you keep coming in for regular appointments at least twice a year. This is because diabetes significantly increases your risk for other health problems. Seeing us regularly helps us monitor your cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and A1C, as well as your risk for more serious health issues.
Want more great diabetes management advice? Request an appointment online or over the phone at our Chicago office today.