Exercise & Diet to Control Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes is a more and more widespread health condition that can cause life-long problems if not adequately controlled and monitored. The disease affects about 29 million people in the U.S. alone including both short-term and long-term sufferers. Long-term sufferers tend to be more susceptible to other more severe health issues. This is an increasingly common disease, but fortunately, it can be controlled or even avoided in some cases by making changes to people’s lifestyle if the disease is caught early enough.
In the U.S. today, people have access to many types of food, creating a lot of choices. We have developed a much trouble-free lifestyle than our predecessors, and it is easy to not include exercise as part of our daily life. It is a trait of all animals, humans included, to take the easy route, so we do not always consider the amount of exercise we should be getting for maintaining good health. Now that more and more people work in offices, drive cars, and eat fast and sugary foods that are so readily available, it is easy for even the most sensible of us to make poor choices and end up overeating the wrong things. To add to this, there is not even enough exercise included in our daily life.
Causes of Type 2 Diabetes
The illness itself is caused by the body producing too little insulin or becoming resistant to the insulin it produces, which allows the sugar (glucose) in the blood to increase beyond the normal levels than are required for the body to function. The reasons for this illness are linked to either a family history of the disease, being overweight, living a sedentary or reasonably inactive lifestyle or a combination of any of these.
The increase in blood sugar content causes symptoms we may not initially recognize as symptoms until we experience them for some time. The signs could be any or all of these:
- Excessive thirst
- More frequent need to pass urine, particularly at night
- Extreme tiredness
- Losing weight without trying
- Scratches and wounds taking longer to heal than would usually be expected
- Blurred vision
If you find you are suffering from any of these symptoms for some time, it would be wise to consult a doctor to have a blood sugar test, and they will tell you if you are a type 2 diabetic or prediabetic.
People with type 2 diabetes need to have their blood sugar monitored regularly, and they may need insulin medication in some form to regulate it. It is also possible to lessen the impact of diabetes by living a healthier lifestyle. As most people who have type 2 diabetes are overweight, following a healthy diet and exercising frequently in order to reduce weight can help with these people’s general health situation and also improve the quality of their life.
Falling into Eating Traps
It seems evident that if we are overweight, we need to cut down on what we eat. However, we may not be at all aware of what we are doing wrong as we can appear to be eating well to ourselves. Processed foods and ready meals, sauces in jars and packets for food flavoring, not to mention the soda drinks we consume, contain so many additives and a lot of hidden sugar and salt that we are unaware of, and it takes a well-disciplined person to understand how much hidden sugar they are consuming.
The choices people make when they are hungry and want a meal are not necessarily the best choices they can make. It is easy to grab a takeaway or ready-made meal after a hard day instead of cooking a homemade meal. Although some of these meals can look nutritious and healthy, there are many hidden ingredients including sugar and salt. Therefore, we keep falling into the same trap all the time. Processed meat of all things contains sugar, and so do many ready and pre-cooked meals.
When we work in an office environment, we drive to work, sit at a desk most of the day, and then drive back home. The work has taken its toll on our brain but our body has had little exercise, and yet, we are hungry. There was a celebration cake at work—which we knew we should not have had—but it was a special occasion! How unfortunate that it was the third one this week; however, the plan is to do better next week. Nonetheless, we seldom do!
With these kinds of environments and mental stresses, it is understandably hard to keep track of what we are eating and to improve our diet and lifestyle to control or avoid a type 2 diabetes situation, but with a little knowledge, planning, and forethought it can certainly be done.
Eating for Type 2 Diabetes
The basic requirements to improve our diet are simple:
- Keep sugar, salt, and fat to a minimum
- Eat three balanced meals a day
- Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables with a low or medium glycemic index.
- Do not skip meals
Achieving all of these is the hard part, so here are some tips.
Do not try to change everything at once; this hardly ever works. At least if it does work, it would last only for a short term. So, start by making small changes.
Do not cut out snacks at first but instead replace what you eat with a fresh fruit or vegetable alternative. If you are used to eating a snack at a particular time and you try just to stop, you may find that you are grabbing the nearest thing when your willpower fails, and it will probably be something sugary.
Make sure you eat breakfast, lunch, and an evening meal. Missing any of these meals can mean you have a drop in blood sugar levels, which will create a desire for sugar, and you will end up eating sugary foods like chocolate and cake. A decrease in blood sugar could be the reason you find yourself eating mid-morning if you have missed breakfast. Eating a regular breakfast will ensure a slow release of sugar into the bloodstream from carbohydrates, and this carries you through to lunch. Starting this habit should gradually reduce the need for a mid-morning snack as long as you have a proper nourishing breakfast; the same goes for lunch. Working through your lunch break and skipping food will again lead to a sugar drop later in the day. These sugar drops create instant demand for sugary foods, and when you eat a chocolate bar or cake to compensate, the insulin production in your body has to increase to deal with this extra sugar. If you have diabetes, this creates an imbalance that can cause you to become ill. A proper carbohydrate and protein meal would supply a slow release of sugar which is more easier for your body to cope with and would last until your next meal, thus avoiding the spikes and dips of sugar in your bloodstream.
Try to get organized and plan your meals ahead of time. Planning meals may not be easy at first when you are not used to doing it and live life on the run. However, a few hours of planning and shopping on the weekend will make eating a healthy diet so much easier.
Furthermore, you may find your week runs more smoothly when you are not continually buying your food on the run. If you live alone and feel you really cannot cook, then read the labels on all the ready meals you purchase and try to buy the healthier options. Healthier eating is not about going without what you like, instead, it is about finding the healthiest way to eat what you want and limiting the sugary, fatty, and salty options to a reasonable level.
The most significant factor to healthy eating is about understanding what goes into the food you eat. Swapping sweet sugary options for ripe fruit and snacks or celery and carrot sticks may seem monotonous at first, but when you get into the habit and feel the difference it makes in your body, you will appreciate looking after yourself. When you start to read labels and see for yourself how many things in the products you purchased are not a part of a homemade recipe, you may even want to learn how to cook.
Exercise for Better Health
When you are overweight, it can be challenging to exercise, and it is advisable that you do not start a laborious exercise regime without the guidance of a medical professional as you can put a strain on your heart as well as your body. Even if your weight is about where it should be, it is not wise to rush into a challenging exercise regime. Start slow and build up as your body adapts to the extra work you are giving it. Sometimes, parking further from the office and walking the extra distance or getting off the bus a stop before your normal one is enough to get you started. Aim to increase your daily exercise by 20 to 30 minutes a day, and then, gradually increase this over the weeks and months. Walking is a great exercise and increasing the distance you walk could make all the difference to your health.
Merely making these minor changes together with a healthier diet can help you start losing the extra pounds and improve your lifestyle. Getting rid of the excess weight will make it easier for you to move around and would put less pressure on your joints, heart, and circulatory system. You will start to feel more mobile, more flexible, and healthier, and you will be helping yourself avoid some severe illnesses later in your life.
Disclaimer: No content on this site should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
- More than 29 million Americans have diabetes; 1 in 4 doesn’t know. CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/p0610-diabetes-report.html. Accessed October 6, 2019.
- Type 2 diabetes. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000313.htm. Accessed October 6, 2019.
- Blood sugar testing: Why, when and how. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/blood-sugar/art-20046628. Accessed October 6, 2019.