5 Best Approaches to Managing Diabetes: Diet, Exercise, and More

How to manage diabetes with life style changes
5 Jun 2024
5 mins
Table Of Content
5 Best Approaches to Managing Diabetes: Diet, Exercise, and More

    Diabetes is a commonly occurring condition in most people these days. In diabetes, the blood sugar (glucose) level in an individual’s body is higher than normal. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas fails to produce enough amount of insulin or doesn’t make any at all. It may also occur if the body of the patient does not respond to insulin properly. There are two major forms of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. Both of these common types of diabetes are lifelong conditions that require proper treatment and management.


    Type 1 Diabetes: This type of diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system acts on the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas and destroys them. As a result of the immune system attack, the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Type 1 diabetes is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes. 


    Type 2 Diabetes: This type of diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. A person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when their body fails to produce sufficient insulin or when the body fails to respond to the insulin in the body. The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is high in the following people, 


    • Who are obese
    • Leading a sedentary lifestyle
    • Eating processed foods, sugary foods, saturated fats and high-carbohydrate foods
    • Taking certain medications like corticosteroids (long-term use)
    • Having certain hormonal disorders like hypothyroidism
    • Having chronic stress
    • Lacking quality sleep

    Treatment for Diabetes 


    The treatment for diabetes depends on the type of diabetes, age, and overall health of the patient. Treatments for diabetes management include a combination of blood sugar monitoring, medications or insulin, and healthy lifestyle changes such as a diabetic diet and exercise. 

    Why are Lifestyle changes for diabetes important?


    Diabetes is a chronic lifelong condition. When not managed properly, diabetes can pose a serious risk to health. Hence, healthy lifestyle changes for diabetes are important to manage the condition in the long run, prevent the risk of other conditions and have an improved quality of life. People with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes may experience symptoms like increased thirst, fatigue, frequent urge to pee, dry mouth, weight loss, etc. 


    If diabetes is not managed well, in the long term, it may increase the patient’s risk of developing various other conditions. Hence, along with proper medications, lifestyle changes for diabetes are also needed. Some of the complications that can occur due to diabetes include:


    1. Cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke, atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, and heart attack
    2. Nephropathy that can cause kidney failure or the need for a kidney transplant.
    3. Kidney problems requiring dialysis
    4. Diabetic Retinopathy (eye damage)
    5. Diabetic Neuropathy (nerve damage)
    6. Skin and mouth conditions
    7. Hearing loss
    8. Foot damage
    9. Sexual dysfunctions
    10. Gastroparesis
    11. Mental health problems

    Lifestyle Changes for Diabetes Management 


    5 strategies to help you manage your diabetes better!


    While medications, insulin therapy, and blood sugar monitoring are important to manage your diabetes, they cannot be effective if you don’t make healthy lifestyle changes. To manage your diabetes, reduce the risk of developing other health complications, and improve the quality of your life, and it is important to follow a healthy lifestyle along with your doctor-prescribed treatment. Here’s a list of 5 lifestyle changes that can help you manage your diabetes well, 

    1.  A diabetic diet 

    A diabetic diet may sound fancy, but it is not what it sounds like. A diabetic diet, in simple terms, is a list of foods that you must and must not eat with diabetes. Even in the case of a non-diabetic patient, the food they eat affects their blood sugar levels in the body, let alone in a person with diabetes. Individuals with diabetes have to eat more mindfully to ensure their blood sugar levels are in check. 


    Because what you eat has a direct effect on your blood sugar levels. Controlled portion sizes and healthy foods make up for the most important aspects of a diabetic diet. But, with the availability of so many options, finding the right foods to eat with diabetes may be challenging. Hence, it is best to consult a dietician to understand what your body needs if you have diabetes. Your dietician will provide you with the right diet chart, depending on your case, to ensure your health is not compromised. 


    In general, individuals having diabetes must include the following foods in their diabetic diet, 


    • Plenty of vegetables
    • Foods high in fiber, like legumes, chickpeas, vegetables, and whole grains
    • Healthy fats like walnuts, flax seeds, extra virgin olive oil, etc
    • Whole-grain foods
    • Fat-free /low-fat yogurt, milk, and cheese
    • Protein-rich foods like beans, lentils, lean meat, and seafood

    List of low Glycemic Index (GI) foods to eat in diabetes 


    Foods that have a low Glycemic Index (GI) cause gradual release of glucose in the bloodstream and help regulate blood sugar levels.


    • Spinach
    • Yogurt
    • Cabbage and cauliflower
    • Barley
    • Lentils
    • Chickpeas
    • Nuts and Seeds
    • Curd
    • Tomatoes

    Foods to avoid if you have diabetes include the following,


    • Foods rich in sugar like ice creams, desserts, sugar-rich cereals
    • Foods with a high glycemic index (GI), such as white rice and potatoes
    • Processed foods like packaged items (chips and biscuits)
    • Processed red meat
    • Foods rich in saturated fats
    • Alcoholic beverages
    • Foods high in sodium
    • Trans fats
    • Refined carbohydrates such as pasta, pastries, and white bread

    2.  Exercising regularly 


    A very powerful way of managing weight and diabetes is exercising. Exercising regularly helps in improving insulin sensitivity, lowering blood sugar levels, and managing weight. To manage diabetes, a gym or high-intensity workout is not necessary. A normal every day workout of 30 minutes daily is enough. 


    If you have diabetes, then you can add physical activity to your everyday life by incorporating exercises like walking, jogging, yoga, or cycling. As a diabetic patient, your aim should be to add at least 150 minutes of exercise in a week. Regular exercising will also reduce your risk of getting heart disease and will help you manage stress better.


    3.  Manage stress


    One of the most common risk factors for various health conditions is stress. When you are stressed, the blood sugar levels in your body shoot up. Stress can make it difficult to manage diabetes. Hence, an important strategy for effective management of diabetes is stress management. Additionally, stress also impacts sleep and mental health, both of which can make diabetes worse. 


    To manage and relieve stress, you can practice yoga and deep breathing exercises, enjoy your favorite hobby, journal, listen to music, or meditate. If you are extremely stressed, then it is best advised to seek help from a professional such as a counselor or a psychologist to understand the root cause of your stress better and address it to improve your mental health. 

    4. Maintain a healthy weight 


    Obesity or overweight is a huge risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. Being overweight also increases the risk of developing heart disease. To maintain a healthy weight, a combination of a diabetic diet, exercise, and stress management is required. Avoid alcohol consumption and quit smoking, as both of these habits can further worsen diabetes and your overall health. 

    5. Quality Sleep


    One of the most overlooked aspects of diabetes management is quality sleep. A study revealed that quality sleep is essential to control how our body uses glucose. A poor quality of sleep can not only worsen type 2 diabetes but also increase the risk of developing insulin resistance, restless leg syndrome (RLS), sleep apnea, and insomnia. Sleep also increases stress, causes hormonal imbalance, and worsens metabolism. Hence, to manage diabetes effectively, quality sleep is essential. To improve the quality of your sleep, you can follow the below-mentioned tips:


    1. Avoid using electronic devices like laptops and computers at least 2 hours before you go to sleep.
    2. Read books before you sleep to relax
    3. Avoid consuming any stimulants at night, such as caffeinated beverages
    4. Make your environment comfortable for a good sleep
    5. Avoid heavy evening workouts before you sleep
    6. Practice going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time in the morning.
    7. Avoid drinking alcohol around your bedtime.

    Take Away


    Being diagnosed with diabetes can be stressful and life-changing. Especially when you know it is a lifelong condition. However, having diabetes doesn’t mean you cannot lead a healthy life. With proper care, treatment, and precautions, you can manage your diabetes effectively. To ensure you manage your condition well, ensure to see your doctor regularly, take your prescribed medications on time, be consistent with your blood sugar monitoring, and make healthy lifestyle changes. 


    The prognosis of diabetes may vary from patient to patient, depending on various factors. The factors determining the outlook (prognosis) of diabetes include the type of diabetes, the age of the patient at the time of diagnosis, how long the patient has had diabetes, overall patient health, how well the condition is managed, and if the patient has developed any complications. 

    Written by
    Arwa AliakberB.Pharm
    AboutArwa Ali Akber is a passionate medical content writer specializing in critical care tips. With a knack for making complex topics accessible, Arwa will get you into the intricacies of health nuances that are known and unknown. Her mission is to enlighten readers, offering insights and guidance to navigate numerous health-related queries.
    Tags :diabetes managementdiabetes excercisestips to manage diabetesdiabetes treatment