5 ways to manage type 2 diabetes while working from home
Making the shift from being an in-office employee to one who works remotely can certainly be an adjustment. You may need to learn how to balance your own conference calls, create boundaries between your family time and late-night requests from colleagues when there’s no commute separating the spheres of your life and focus on that quarterly report when there are piles of laundry staring you in the face. But if you’re one of the nearly 4 million Canadians living with diabetes, working from home presents a whole different set of challenges.
Let’s face it; it’s easier to give into stress snacking when your desk is positioned just feet from your kitchen pantry where comfort foods lurk. It’s harder to find motivation to exercise when the couch is literally your office. And then there are emotions to contend with: feeling a loss of control and a sense of isolation can be even tougher for someone trying to navigate a chronic condition like type 2 diabetes.
The struggle is real, but you can get a handle on your diabetes and monitor your glucose levels while working from home with a few simple lifestyle tweaks. Here are five doable ways to manage your health — and your workday.
1. Master meal planning
Taking time on the weekends to not only plan out but also prep your meals for the upcoming work week helps ensure that you’ll eat well-balanced, blood-sugar-friendly foods in weight-managing portions on even your busiest of days. One foolproof way to do this is to fill your plate the way Diabetes Canada recommends. Fill half your plate (or meal-prepping container) with non-starchy veggies such as salad greens, broccoli, cauliflower, or green beans. Fill one-quarter with a lean protein source including chicken, turkey or beans. Then dedicate no more than one-quarter with starchy foods or a grain — or skip the starch altogether and double up on the veggies.
2. Pencil in your mealtimes
It’s not just what you eat that matters, but also when you eat. Enjoying meals and snacks on a schedule can help to keep your blood sugar level stable. Your goal is to avoid highs and lows with your glucose levels, so eating the right foods every three to four hours may help keep you steady as well as focused on your work.
3. Simplify self-monitoring
A blood glucose meter (BGM) is an important tool in managing your type 2 diabetes with confidence. Knowing your numbers can tell you how your body responds to certain foods, exercise, and even stress. You can then use the information to make dietary tweaks or to figure out ideal times for meals and snacks. It’s a quick and easy way to gain some understanding of your condition, and to know whether you’re moving in the right direction.
Some smart times to check your glucose levels are before breakfast, one to two hours after a meal, and after physical activity. While the idea of monitoring your glucose levels may seem overwhelming at first, it can be quite simple with the right blood glucose meter. The Accu-Chek® Guide Meter takes the hassle out of the process. Just place a drop of blood anywhere along the unique, easy-edge strip design. Then track your numbers on mySugr, the #1 downloaded app for diabetes management*. Request your free** Accu-Chek Guide Meter.
4. Take mini sweat breaks
You probably know that exercise can help those living with type 2 diabetes. A recent review published in PubMed in January 2020 found that regular exercise can decrease reliance on glucose-controlling medications and insulin. And physical activity can help with weight loss and prevent diabetes-related complications such as cardiovascular disease.
But when your office is your home, finding the time and motivation can be tricky. Diabetes Canada suggests at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-intense exercise weekly for those living with type 2 diabetes, and research indicates you should get a mix of both cardiovascular exercise and strength training. That amounts to 30 minutes a day for five days. If that feels too daunting with a busy work schedule, break it into three 10-minute fitness breaks throughout your workday. Climb the stairs, go for a brief walk around your neighborhood, drop down to the floor for push-ups. It all adds up — and gets you away from your desk.
5. Know when to shut it down
When there’s no clear boundary between your work and home life, it’s easy for your workday to extend into what should be your downtime. But here’s a reason to call it quits at a reasonable hour: Not getting enough shuteye can raise your blood sugar levels. In fact, a study published in September 2018 in Scientific Reports found that those with irregular sleep patterns weighed more, had increased blood glucose levels, and had higher blood pressure than those who slept more soundly.
To practice good sleep hygiene, power down an hour or two before you plan to hit the pillow (the blue light from your devices can keep you up), limit alcohol, which can interfere with quality of sleep, and set regular bed and wake times.
Working at home has its challenges, but out-of-control blood sugar doesn’t have to be one. With careful planning, you can keep your workload and your levels in check.
*Not linked to a proprietary CGM sensor, Airnow Data (total downloads for iOS + Android from 01/01/2020 to 10/26/2020)
**Certain conditions apply.
Accu-Chek (2021). Free meter. Retrieved from: https://www.accu-chek.ca/microsites/free-diabetes-meter?utm_source=triplelift&utm_medium=article&utm_campaign=triplelift_Traffic_Contextual-EverydayHealth_CA_EN_Audience_FH2021. Accessed April 20 2021.
Accu-Chek (2021). mySugr app. Retrieved from: https://www.accu-chek.ca/en/mysugr-app. Accessed April 21 2021.
Diabetes Canada (2018). Just the basics. Retrieved from: https://guidelines.diabetes.ca/docs/patient-resources/just-the-basics-EN.pdf. Accessed April 20 2021.
Diabetes Canada (2018). Physical Activity and Diabetes. Retrieved from: https://guidelines.diabetes.ca/cpg/chapter10#sec1. Accessed April 20 2021.
PubMed (2020). Dose-response effects of exercise on glucose-lowering medications for type 2 diabetes: A secondary analysis of a randomized clinical trial. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32007295/. Accessed April 20 2021.
Scientific Reports (2018). Validation of the sleep regularity index in older adults and associations with Cardiometabolic risk. Retrieved from: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-32402-5?utm_source=triplelift&utm_medium=article&utm_campaign=triplelift_Traffic_Contextual-EverydayHealth_CA_EN_Audience_FH2021. Accessed April 21 2021.
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