Monday, July 09, 2012

Seizing control: 10 tips to help manage diabetes

The following tips come from the Food and Health Communications service and look at 10 ways to take control of your health and diabetes. It's very easy to be overwhelmed by all the advice and directives. Instead of trying to solve all your problems "today," it might be more affective to educate yourself each day and make the baby steps toward health and wellness.
  • A scaled-down approach. Control your weight if you are overweight. Type 2 diabetes linked to obesity often disappears if the obesity is corrected.
  • Exercise your rights to a healthy you. Participate in regular physical activity. Regular physical activity improves fitness and quality of life and decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease. It also helps with weight control. In Type 2 diabetes, regular physical activity helps to improve blood glucose control and possibly decrease the need for insulin or oral medications.  
  • Understand and limit saturated fat. Watch the amount of saturated fat, trans-fat and cholesterol you consume, as they tend to raise blood cholesterol levels. Foods to watch out for include fatty meats, fried foods, high fat dairy products, bakery goods and margarine. Choose lean cuts of meat and limit yourself to 3-ounce portions twice a day. Eat less red meat and more skinless poultry and fish. Use beans as your main dish instead of meat.
  • Daily doses of fiber. Increase your intake of fiber. Fiber comes from plants and may help to lower blood glucose and levels of fats in the blood. Foods high in fiber include bran cereals, cooked beans and peas, whole-grain bread, fruits and vegetables.
  • Wholesome, healthy foods. Eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables as opposed to refined foods. Not only do whole foods contain fiber, but they also contain numerous plant chemicals, or phytochemicals, which appear to be beneficial for health.
  • Work on the balancing act. Eat regular, well-balanced meals with snacks as needed. This will help to improve your blood glucose levels and reduce overeating. A well-balanced meal consists of about 1/4 protein foods and 3/4 carbohydrate foods.
  • Remember, "free" can carry a price. Understand that “sugar-free” doesn’t mean carbohydrate-free or calorie-free. “Sugar-free” foods are often sweetened with fructose or sugar alcohols (xylitol, mannitol, sorbitol). These sweeteners may have a  smaller effect on your blood glucose levels than table sugar, and they are okay to use in moderate amounts. But foods containing fructose or the sugar alcohols will still contain calories. Even foods sweetened with artificial sweeteners (such as sugar-free pudding) still have calories and are not “free” foods.
  • Understand the need to understand carbs. Know the carbohydrate content of the foods you eat. Carbohydrates occur naturally in milk and fruit, and are also found in pasta, bread, rice, dried beans and peas, and starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn or green peas. Depending on the type, carbohydrates can cause a spike in blood sugar levels, or keep levels more steady. This means that while there is a carbohydrate limit for diabetics, it is also important to make wise choices about the type of carbohydrate consumed.
  • Be an informed drinker. Use alcohol in moderation. If your blood glucose levels are in good control and alcohol is consumed with foods containing carbohydrate, one drink a day is acceptable. However, it is important to monitor your blood glucose to know how you react to alcohol since alcohol can lead to hypoglycemia.
  • Knowledge is power. Know where to go for reliable information. The following organizations offer credible information for consumers with diabetes: 

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