Recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes? You are likely wondering what this diagnosis means for your overall health.
Type 2 diabetes means your body is unable to use insulin properly. This can lead to too much sugar circulating in your bloodstream. Uncontrolled high blood sugar can eventually lead to a range of health issues including high blood pressure, heart failure, vision problems, skin damage and even amputation of extremities.
The good news is that most diabetics are able to live full, healthy lives if they make a few simple lifestyle changes:
- Maintain a healthy weight – Getting to and maintaining a healthy weight is a key factor in managing diabetes. Start with calculating your body mass index (BMI). If your BMI falls in the overweight or obese categories, it’s time to get started with a weight loss plan. If you have a lot to lose, break it into smaller, more manageable chunks. For example, aim to lose five percent of your body weight. For a person who weighs 200 pounds, this is just 10 pounds. Losing even a small amount will help you better control your blood sugar.
- Eat a healthy diet – Consulting with a registered dietitian can help you make changes to your diet that work with your lifestyle. For example, if you are on the go during the day, a dietitian may recommend packing healthy snacks such as cut up vegetables or nuts. Another option is following the Diabetic Plate method. This method involves using a nine-inch plate and filling half with vegetables, a quarter with a lean protein and a quarter with whole grains. To learn more about nutrition management for diabetics, read What Should I Eat if I Have Diabetes?
- Get regular exercise – The American Heart Association recommends adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week, or 30 minutes a day for five days. This is especially important for diabetics. Getting regular exercise helps people maintain a healthy weight, lowers blood sugar and increases energy throughout the day. If you can’t fit in a full 30-minute block, break it down even further to three, 10-minute workouts each day.
- Quit smoking – Smoking tobacco products can lead to increased inflammation throughout the body as well as changes to your blood vessels. If you smoke, we recommend registering for a smoking cessation program so you can quit for good.
- Get enough sleep – Skimping on sleep can contribute to insulin resistance. It can also cause people to eat more during the day which can make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. To feel rested and avoid sleep-related health issues, aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.
The diabetes specialists at Edward-Elmhurst Health provide patients with the information, tools and support they need to succeed in making lifestyle changes. Our providers can help you learn how to eat healthier, get more exercise, quit smoking and get enough sleep.