Generally speaking, Type II diabetes is the version of this disease that can be managed with diet and exercise. However, for those with Type I, these healthy lifestyle tips may help relieve symptoms and enhance management of the condition. Here are some tips for managing diabetes with diet and exercise.
The Right Carbs
Carbs, or carbohydrates, have been on the "bad" list lately. But not unlike fat, there are good and bad carbs, especially when it comes to diabetes management. Generally speaking, carbs to avoid might include the following:
- White sugar
- White flour
- White rice
- Fruit juices
- De-germed cornmeal
Carbs to emphasize might include these foods:
- Whole fruits
- Whole grains
- Brown rice
- Whole cornmeal
Proteins and Carbs
Combining proteins and carbs at meals and snacks can help prevent blood sugar spikes. Examples include:
- Whole grain bread with unsweetened nut butter
- Whole grain crackers with low-fat cheese
- Lean turkey breast in a whole wheat pita
- Brown rice and beans
- "Party mix" made from whole grain cereal, peanuts, and pretzels
- Apple slices with peanut butter
- Brown rice and broiled salmon
- Whole wheat macaroni and cheese (made with low-fat cheese and skim milk)
While keeping your weight at a healthy level is important for managing your diabetes, eating the right kind of fat has its place. In moderation, these healthy fats can help lower cholesterol and provide other health benefits. Healthy fats can be found in:
- Fish (especially salmon and Arctic char)
- Olive, safflower, and canola oils
It's a good idea to avoid saturated fats and trans fats (hydrogenated fats). Saturated fats are fats like butter and shortening that are solid at room temperature. Hydrogenated fats were once liquid fats (sometimes healthy ones) that were artificially solidified using hydrogen. Trans or hydrogenated fats are found in some types of peanut butter and in margarine, and in the ingredient lists of countless packaged foods.
To manage your diabetes, exercise is considered by experts to be essential. Interestingly, strength training has been shown to be especially beneficial to diabetics, producing results that, in some instances, rival medication. Aerobic exercise is also helpful; it gets the heart rate up and burns calories.
The important thing is to exercise at least 30 minutes a day for a minimum of five days a week. This helps keep your weight in check (vital for diabetics and pre-diabetics) and may even reduce stress. Stress has been implicated in the development of diabetes symptoms.