To wrap up American Diabetes Month, I have collected 10 tips to promote good diabetes management.
1. Control your weight if you are overweight. Weight reduction for those with Type 2 diabetes often reduces blood sugar values significantly.
2. Participate in regular physical activity. Regular physical activity improves fitness and quality of life and decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease. In Type 2 diabetes, regular physical activity helps improve blood glucose control and may decrease the need for oral diabetes medications or insulin.
3. Watch the amount of saturated fat and trans-fat you consume, as they tend to raise cholesterol levels. Foods to watch out for include fatty meats, fried foods, high fat dairy products and bakery goods. Choose lean cuts of meat and limit yourself to 3-ounce portions twice a day.
4. Increase your intake of fiber. Fiber may help lower blood glucose and levels of fats in the blood. Foods high in fiber include bran cereals, beans, whole-grain bread, fruits and vegetables.
5. 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 1⁄4 protein on your plate, 1⁄2 vegetables, 1⁄4 starch, a serving of fruit and one cup of milk.
6. Understand that “sugar-free” doesn’t mean carbohydrate-free or calorie-free. “Sugar-free” foods are often sweetened with 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. Foods containing sugar alcohols still contain calories. Know that sugar alcohols may have an effect on your digestive system causing stomach upset, flatulence or diarrhea.
7. Foods sweetened with non-nutritive sweeteners (such as sugar-free pudding or candy) still have calories and are not “free” foods.
8. Know the carbohydrate content of the foods you eat. Carbohydrates occur naturally in milk and fruit, and also are found in pasta, bread, rice, beans and starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn and peas.
9. Check your blood sugar regularly as advised by your health care provider. Know the recommended ranges for your blood sugar results.
10. Know where to go for reliable information. Skiff Medical Center offers an American Diabetes Association recognized Diabetes Self-Management Education Program. Initial educational classes, review classes, support group and individual appointments are available. Call (641) 791-4303 for more information.