Leading a Healthy and Fulfilling Life despite Diabetes

I’m Deborah Susan, a dietician and personal trainer specializing in nutrition and physical fitness for diabetics. So far the topics I’ve covered include how diabetes develops, what triggers diabetes, symptoms of diabetes, diagnostic tests you can take to confirm (or deny) presence of diabetes, monitoring your high blood sugar levels at home, key factors that keep your blood glucose under control and long-term implications of undiagnosed diabetes and how best to tackle it. Today I will dwell on lifestyle and its relation to diabetes.

Diabetes is a dark shadow that follows bad life style. Switching over to a healthy life may not get rid of the shadow but it will turn it into a less intense, pale reflection of its former self. Healthy lifestyle includes eating regular meals at the right times especially if we have to balance the effects of any tablets or insulin that might have to be taken. What’s in our food – carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and fiber – enables us to make choices that help control blood glucose levels.

Principles of healthy eating

The principles of healthy eating for a diabetic are no different from that applicable for normal healthy humans. No foods are banned – but some should be eaten less often. Sometimes you might not have a choice about what food is available but generally you can adapt recipes and meals so that you can enjoy food while eating healthily.

The principles of healthy eating are:

* Eat regular small meals ensuring you include a portion of carbohydrates (I recommend a portion control plate as it makes this process easier)
* Eat more high fiber diet (including adequate quantities of fruits and vegetables).
* Switch to wholegrain – it is tastier and healthier.
* Cut down (don’t eliminate) fat.
* Dramatically reduce protein from animal sources.
* Dramatically reduce (don’t eliminate) sweets.
* Dramatically reduce (don’t eliminate) salt consumption.
* Dramatically reduce (eliminate if possible) alcohol consumption.

Diabetes and carbohydrates

When you have diabetes, your body is unable to use foods that contain carbohydrates in the normal way. All foods containing carbohydrates are normally broken down into glucose. Glucose is converted into energy through action of insulin. Underproduction of insulin or insulin intolerance means your blood glucose levels will rise each time you eat carbohydrates. But you still need to eat carbohydrates otherwise there will be no energy. The trick then is to eating carbohydrates in amounts that will balance out the tablets or insulin.

Type 1 diabetics taking short action insulin should eat food about at the same time they take insulin. Type 1 diabetics taking long action insulin should eat five small evenly paced meals.

Type 2 diabetics on the other hand, due to their impaired insulin production or action, should eat foods that take longer to be broken down into glucose. Therefore fruits and deserts should be consumed after meals. (So that it is queued in the digestive tract). Eat carbohydrates in moderation. If you are taking tablets for your diabetes you will need to take them in relation to your meals. Some tablets work by helping your digestive system break down the meals more slowly while other tablets work by stimulating the Pancreas into producing more insulin. Matching meals times to your medication is therefore important.

Check it out also for Glucose Levels Chart and Symptoms of High Blood Sugar

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