It’s the Holy Grail for people with diabetes: Checking your blood sugar and seeing the numbers right in line. Can lifestyle changes help?
Crandall Snyder says making a few key lifestyle changes can sometimes eliminate the need for medication. “Poking yourself with insulin isn't fun,” she says. “Diabetes is a progressive disease, and you really have to figure out how to take control.”
Here are 10 ways to do it, no prescriptions required.
1. Keep an Eye on Your Carb Intake
Paying attention to carbohydrates is important for people with type 2 diabetes. “Carbs are what cause your blood sugars to potentially fluctuate,” Crandall Snyder says.
How many carbs per meal is ideal? “It’s tailored to each individual,” says Weisenberger. How much you exercise, your weight, and your age can all affect how long sugars stay in your system, according to CDC. A typical starting point for people with diabetes is to limit carb intake to 200 to 245 grams (g) per day, which amounts to about one-half of your daily calories coming from carbs, according to the CDC. From there, make adjustments according to your blood glucose readings or as recommended by a dietitian, Crandall Snyder says.
2. Avoid Eating Large Meals
One way to keep carbs under control is by eating in moderation. “I always tell my patients to spread their food out over the day,” Weisenberger says. “Don’t eat small meals to save up for a big dinner.” Feeding your body throughout the day helps regulate your blood sugar levels and prevents highs and lows, Crandall Snyder says.
Both Weisenberger and Crandall Snyder say to keep an eye on carbs, even while snacking. “Classically, less than 15 g of carbs per snack is a good standard approach,” Crandall Snyder says. That’s about what’s found in 1 cup of fruit, she says.
3. Lose a Little Weight
Carrying around extra weight is one of the main causes of insulin resistance and diseases which cause high blood sugar.
Your weight-loss goals don’t have to be enormous either. Some of Weisenberger’s patients have seen improvements in blood glucose readings with only a five-pound loss, she says. Makes sense: Recent studies found modest weight loss — losing 5 to 10 percent of body weight — resulted in improved insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. “Small steps in the right direction can yield big results in improvement or prevention,” Crandall Snyder says.