Diabetes: Get Off to a Healthy Start in the New Year
Every new year is a chance to start fresh; to make a commitment to yourself that your health is a priority. If you are living with diabetes, or are at risk of developing the disease, the choices you make over the next 365 days could have a profound impact on your well-being. The foods you eat, the amount of exercise you do and the levels of stress in your life all affect your blood sugar levels. By simply making the right choices, you have the power to prevent the complications of diabetes. It’s not about making a resolution you can’t keep, but rather about taking simple, easy-to-manage steps that will guide you through a healthy year.
Get on a Testing Schedule
One of the most important tools in managing diabetes is testing blood sugar levels regularly. By testing your glucose levels throughout the day, you can get a clear picture of how your diet and daily activities are affecting you. If your levels are high, you might want to establish an exercise routine such as walking after meals, which can help to bring blood sugar down naturally, or you could consider cutting back on carbohydrates. Keep track of your numbers in a planner or on your smartphone so that you can share them with your health care team. Experts can assist you in adjusting your medications and diet to maximize your blood sugar control.
Aim for Small Improvements
Consistency is important for healthy blood sugar control. Rather than seeking to begin a rigorous exercise program or lose 20 pounds in a month, set a more conservative goal of taking a walk several times a week or striving to lose two pounds per week. The effort will pay off. In fact, the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) showed that a moderate diet teamed with exercise performed five times per week led to a five to seven percent weight loss. That was enough to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes in study participants.
Eat Unprocessed Foods
A well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet is crucial for managing diabetes. Several nutrients in particular appear to be beneficial for blood sugar control. An analysis of data from multiple research studies indicated that individuals who consumed the highest amounts of magnesium had a 23% less risk of developing diabetes. The magnesium content is highest in unprocessed foods. To get ample magnesium, eat fresh, unprocessed foods like green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans and whole grains. The mineral chromium also plays a role in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. You will find chromium in a variety of unprocessed foods including broccoli, potatoes, meats and whole grains.
Every day brings new opportunities for making healthy choices that will improve blood sugar levels and manage your diabetes safely. By making positive steps daily, you will be able to look back on the year with pride and accomplishment.