If you’ve just found out you have diabetes, you know you face a lifetime of carefully managing your condition. Feeling angry, scared or overwhelmed is perfectly normal. Learning that you’ll have diabetes for life can be difficult to swallow. However, you can still achieve an excellent quality of life with diabetes. So take a deep breath, relax and read on to find out more about healthy diabetic living.
Diabetic Living: What Can I Eat?
The first question that comes to mind for many people with diabetes is, “Can I still enjoy good food?” The answer is absolutely yes! A diabetic diet is filled with a huge variety of healthy and delicious foods that are good for your whole family. Adults and children with diabetes can enjoy fresh produce, dairy, whole grains, meats and seafood, while avoiding empty calories such as sweets and junk foods.
The trick to diabetic eating is balancing your carbohydrates in moderation with proteins and fats, and this takes a little planning. The best way to get started is to make an appointment with a nutritionist or registered dietician. He or she, along with your doctor, can help you plan a diet that is just right for your activity level, food preferences, health, prescribed medications and weight. Once you have your diet plan, experts generally advise you to:
- Eat at about the same time every day to manage levels of medication and blood sugar.
- Eat three meals every day, plus a bedtime snack if you are taking medication or insulin.
- Follow your diet plan, eating high-fiber foods and avoiding empty calories.
- Try to reach and maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight, don’t get discouraged. Even losing small amounts of weight can lower your blood sugar.
Do I Really Have to Check My Blood Sugar?
Checking blood sugar may seem very inconvenient. You may be wondering if you can get away with not checking your blood sugar as long as you follow your diet and take your medication. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Your blood sugar level may be affected by variables such as:
Checking your blood sugar throughout the day is vital to help you manage your blood sugar levels. If you aren’t reaching your target levels, your doctor can adjust your medicine and/or diet to get you back on track. Keeping your blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible can help you avoid the many complications of diabetes and increase your life expectancy.
What About My Quality of Life?
In addition to diet, blood sugar monitoring and medication, some simple lifestyle changes can help you lower your blood sugar levels and stay healthy:
- Begin a regular exercise program with the approval of your doctor.
- Don’t smoke.
- Limit alcohol consumption. Your doctor can let you know how much alcohol is safe for you.
Many of the things you love will not have to change just because you have diabetes. With planning and attention you can still enjoy:
- Eating out
- Having children
- Playing sports
- Traveling around the country or the world.
American Academy of Family Physicians. (2009). Living with diabetes: The Basics. Retrieved April 23, 2010, from http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/diabetes/living/049.html.
Battle Diabetes. (n.d.). Newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes â€“ What do I do now? Retrieved April 23, 2010, from http://www.battlediabetes.com/newly-diagnosed-type-2-diabetes-what-do-i-do-now/.