With just a few months into 2018, it’s not too late to start on the path to a happier, healthier you. But knowing and understanding how to really put that health goal into practice can be hard, particularly for people with type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, is a chronic condition in which your blood sugar level is higher than normal. If not properly treated, it can lead to heart disease, blindness and kidney failure. Type 2 diabetes affects more than 28 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately one out of every 10 Kansas adults report having being diagnosed with diabetes and about one out of 15 report having had a prediabetes diagnosis, according to the most recent statistics from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
“Changes in diet and exercise can result in significant weight loss and improved diabetes control, but the benefits often don’t stop there,” said Ali Jamalallail, MD, an endocrinologist at Ascension’s Via Christi Clinic, 3311 E. Murdock in Wichita. “In some cases, type 2 diabetes patients may no longer need to take medications for diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol.”
Looking for a healthier you this year? Here are five things you can do to keep your diabetes in check.
- Increase your physical activity. Before you jump into a rigorous exercise routine, talk to your doctor about what physical activities are most beneficial for your body. Start slow to avoid injury and work your way up to 30 minutes of exercise five days per week. Things like walking, swimming and dancing could help keep your blood sugar from spiking.
- Choose foods wisely. Carbohydrates like breads, grains, starches, milk and fruits have the biggest effect on blood sugars. Focus heavily on controlling portion sizes of those foods and balance them with foods like vegetables, lean proteins and heart healthy fats. A registered dietitian should help you customize a meal plan.
- Check blood sugar regularly. Keep an eye on what you eat and how it affects you by testing your blood sugar. The American Diabetes Association’s guidelines say generally between 80-130 mg/dl before you eat and under 180 mg/dl about two hours after you eat is ideal. But everyone is different, so talk to your doctor about what range is best for you.
- Get in the know. Talk to a certified diabetes educator to learn how to self-manage type 2 diabetes, including ongoing treatment. Diabetes educators provide information about how exercise and food choices affect blood sugar and preventing things like eye or kidney damage. The more you know, the easier it is to make healthy choices.
- Check in with your doctor regularly. Treatment needs change depending on your blood sugar levels. Make appointments for regular checkups with your doctor to ensure you’re up-to-date on your regimen.