5 simple ways to manage type 2 diabetes
Living with type 2 diabetes can feel like a balancing act, juggling many competing demands at once.
But with the right habits and tools, you can live well with diabetes without getting overwhelmed. From meal planning to exercise to blood glucose monitoring, there are several simple steps you can take to ease your type 2 diabetes management.
Start by learning about diabetes
Whether you’re newly diagnosed or you’ve been living with diabetes for years, living well with diabetes is easier when you’re armed with knowledge. Spending some time learning about diabetes can help you see the bigger picture with your health. Topics like lifestyle changes, blood sugar management and nutrition are good places to start.
While there are plenty of great resources online, like the Diabetes Canada website, it might also be helpful to have a conversation with your healthcare professional or a diabetes educator so you can ask questions and get some targeted advice. Books can also be a good resource – ask your diabetes educator for recommendations.
Make friends with meal planning
Meal planning is a good habit for anyone to master, but if you live with type 2 diabetes, it can help you better manage your blood sugar.
Even if you’re someone who prefers to live life a little more spontaneously, a few weeks (or even a few days) of meal planning may help you gain more awareness into how foods affect your blood sugar and symptoms.
Diabetes Canada recommends that people with diabetes fill half their plate with vegetables, and divide the other half between protein and whole grains or starchy foods.
Lower glycemic index foods like beans, whole grains and many vegetables, can help “control blood sugar, protect you from heart disease and stroke, and make you feel full longer to help with losing weight,” the website says.
Building a plan based on simple guidelines can help take the guesswork out of eating healthy.
Make self-monitoring simple
Blood glucose monitors are helpful tools in managing type 2 diabetes. As you use your monitor, you can learn how different foods, as well as lifestyle factors like exercise, stress and sleep can all affect your blood sugar, making it easier to manage diabetes over time.
You can use the information you gain from blood glucose monitoring to help tweak your diet, meal timing, exercise plan and sleep habits. Plus, you’ll always know if you’re moving in the right direction with your lifestyle, taking the guesswork out of the picture.
When choosing a blood glucose monitor, look for a simple, easy-to-use device. For some people, it may also be beneficial to have a monitor that connects to a smartphone app that will help you track your numbers and gain insights.
The Accu-Chek® Guide Meter offers an easy-edge strip design and a spill-resistant vial, making blood glucose monitoring easier – 97% of users agree that the Accu-Chek Guide system is extremely easy to use. You can get a free Accu-Chek Guide Meter at FreeMeter.ca (purchase of Accu-Chek Guide strips might be required).
Keep your stress in check
For people living with type 2 diabetes, it’s important to manage stress levels. High levels of stress may make it harder to manage your diabetes, according to a 2005 report.
The simplest way to manage stress is to learn to identify your triggers, and learn what helps you. For some people, it means making lifestyle changes to reduce stress (such as switching jobs or routines), while for others it means learning coping strategies so stressful situations don’t affect you as much.
When facing a stressful situation, it’s a good idea to boost your self-care routine, taking the time to do more activities that help you decompress.
Work exercise into your routine
Exercise is essential for anyone’s good health, but if you live with type 2 diabetes, consider it compulsory. Exercise can help people with diabetes improve their glycemic levels and maintain a healthy weight.
According to Diabetes Canada, people with type 2 diabetes should aim for at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise and two sessions of resistance (strength) exercise per week. Aerobic exercise includes activities like walking, swimming, jogging and bicycling.
One of the simplest ways to ensure you’re getting enough exercise is to take a brisk walk or jog for 30 minutes every day during the work week. Supplement that with strength training or bodyweight exercise twice a week, and you’ve met your goal.
If 30 minutes all at once seems too daunting, consider breaking it into three 10-minute sessions throughout the day. Everything counts, so just get moving whenever you have the time.
Dealing with type 2 diabetes can feel daunting, but there are simple and effective ways to manage your condition without getting overwhelmed. From getting informed to meal planning to blood glucose monitoring, each of these tools and habits can help you live well with diabetes.
Accu-Chek (n.d). Free diabetes meter. Retrieved from: https://www.accu-chek.ca/en/microsites/free-diabetes-meter?utm_source=website_generic. Accessed November 17 2021.
American Diabetes Association (2005). Stress and Diabetes: A Review of the links. Retrieved from: https://spectrum.diabetesjournals.org/content/18/2/121. Accessed November 17 2021.
Diabetes Canada (n.d). Type 2 diabetes. Retrieved from: https://www.diabetes.ca/about-diabetes/type-2. Accessed November 17 2021.
Diabetes Canada (2018). Physical activity and diabetes. Retrieved from: https://guidelines.diabetes.ca/cpg/Chapter10. Accessed November 17 2021.
Diabetes Canada (n.d). Meal planning. Retrieved from: https://www.diabetes.ca/nutrition---fitness/meal-planning. Accessed November 17 2021.
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