Diet and Lifestyle

The keys to the management of diabetes are diet, exercise, and when required, insulin injections and oral mediations.  Maintaining blood glucose and fat at a healthy level will help a diabetic lead a normal life. It can also prevent or decrease the risk of complications such as damage to the kidneys or eyes, heart diseases and circulation problems in the legs.

A proper diet is critical to disease management. It can help a diabetic person achieve and maintain desirable weight, hence controlling blood glucose. The food he eats will directly affect his blood glucose, the main sugar found in the blood and the body's main source of energy.

Below are some tips on diabetes diet planning which a diabetic can try:   

  • eat consistent amounts of food each day
  • eat small, regular meals based on a wide variety of foods to maintain adequate nutrition
  • reduce fat intake in diet, particularly saturated fat eg. butter, fried and fatty foods
  • include mostly carbohydrate and fibre foods such as rice, oats, vegetables, legumes (beans, peas and lentils) 
  • experiment with new foods. Eating the same foods everyday can lead to boredom. You may then be tempted to go off your meal plan. Buy a cookbook written for diabetes and try new recipes
  • do not skip meals
  • try to avoid snacks unless your doctor or dietitian recommends them as part of your medication regimen
  • limit alcohol consumption. If you do so, drink alcohol in moderation only

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is important for people with diabetes. Weight control is extremely important in treating type 2 diabetes (non insulin-dependent) because extra body fat makes it difficult for these patients to produce and use their own insulin.

Accumulation of at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity (eg. walking) on most or preferably all days of the week is recommended. This will confer numerous benefits for a diabetic including helping the body use insulin better to convert glucose into energy in body cells, thus leading to reduced insulin requirements, and a reduction in the risk of heart diseases. You may also ask your doctor to plan an appropriate exercise program especially for your needs.

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