Whether you have diabetes or have been told by your health care provider that you are “pre-diabetic” or at risk for diabetes, there are steps you can start taking now to help control your blood glucose levels.
- Limit or avoid simple sugars/sweets: These include juices, regular sodas or any sweetened beverages; syrups; candies such as Skittles, Lifesavers, etc.; jellies; and cookies/cakes.
- Eat a balanced, whole foods diet; one that includes lean protein, lots of vegetables, and a moderate amount of fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and dairy (as tolerated). See this healthy plate model below to see what a nutritious, balanced meal looks like:
- Meal plan and shop smart: Plan your meals out for the week before shopping. This can help to keep you on track at the supermarket and to avoid processed, higher carb foods. Go shopping AFTER eating, not when you are hungry! When shopping, focus on the outside sections of the supermarket – this is where you will find fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables.
- Get enough sleep: Limit TV and computer usage right before bed. Make sure your bedroom is conducive to a good night’s sleep: cool, dark, and free of noise. If you have sleep apnea, make sure to see your doctor for appropriate treatment.
- Manage stress: Find a yoga or meditation class to help deal with stress. Find calming activities you enjoy, such as a walk in nature, listening to music, or creating art. Consider counseling, if needed, to work through any issues or experiences that may be causing stress.
For the following, make sure you talk to your doctor first:
- Exercise: Creating and sticking with an exercise plan can help to improve blood glucose levels for 12-72 hours following exercise.
- Weight loss: If you are overweight or obese, losing 5% of your weight can improve blood glucose levels. Example: you weigh 160 pounds; a weight loss of 8 pounds is enough to start seeing benefits! A healthy weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week is recommended for most people.
It’s important if you have diabetes to attend diabetes classes and/or visit with a dietitian. Ask your health care provider for a referral.
Melissa Montalto, MS, RD, CD, CDE
Certified Diabetes Educator
University of Washington Medical Center