Healthy Habits to Help Manage and Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Seventeen million Americans have diabetes, and nearly six million more do not know they have the disease. The number of Americans with diabetes is growing every year.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Food is fuel for daily life – your body uses food to produce energy. With diabetes, the body has difficulty using food properly because it either fails to make enough insulin or doesn’t use insulin correctly. Insulin is a hormone that helps convert food into energy. Diabetes makes it hard for the body to control blood sugar levels.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease. Type 2 usually appears after age 40, but younger and younger people, even children, are being diagnosed with the condition.
This form of diabetes is linked closely to obesity and physical inactivity – two factors you can do something about.
Diet Nutrition is Key to Type 2 Diabetes
In many cases, you can control Type 2 diabetes through better nutrition, weight loss, increased physical activity, and regular checkups with your health care team.
What, when and how much you eat are all important factors in managing Type 2 diabetes.
With the help of your registered dietitian or health care professional, you should develop and follow a meal plan based on your individual needs.
Diet Nutrition Tips for People with Type 2 Diabetes
While no single plan will work for everyone, the following general tips can help:
- Follow a consistent meal plan and schedule.
- Eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grain foods, low-fat dairy products, and lean meat, poultry, fish or meat alternatives. This will help keep your blood sugar levels steady.
- Choose lower fat options and limit saturated fats.
- Use sugar in moderation. Consider lower sugar options if available.
- Check nutrition labels.
- Get your fiber. The American Dietetic Association recommends that all people eat 20-35 grams of fiber per day. Fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grain foods are good sources of fiber.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Use less salt.
Get Physically Active
Everyone knows that physical activity is good for your health. But it’s especially important for people with Type 2 diabetes or those trying to prevent the disease.
Type 2 diabetes is closely linked to being overweight. Research demonstrates that along with healthy eating habits, regular physical activity helps the body to use insulin better, which helps to improve the symptoms – or even reduce the risk – of Type 2 diabetes.
Physical activity has an insulin-like effect – it can help lower blood sugar levels.
Everyone benefits from physical activity — those who have Type 2 diabetes and those trying to prevent the disease.
In addition to improving blood sugar control, decreasing the risk of diabetes, and maintaining overall good health, being active boosts brain activity, helps you deal with stress and improves your mood!
Type 2 Diabetes and Dietary Sugar
Numerous studies have shown that old beliefs about sugar and diabetes may have been incorrect.
For a long time, experts thought people with diabetes couldn’t have foods containing sugar, like candy and desserts. Researchers thought that these foods in particular made blood sugar levels rise too quickly, faster than starches.
Research now shows that candy and sweets don’t raise blood sugar levels any higher or any more quickly than certain starches, such as white bread, white rice and white potatoes.
So, you can have starches, sugars and sweets — just be sure that you eat them in moderation. Most importantly, make sure that you eat a balanced diet so your body gets the nutrients it needs.
Talk to your registered dietitian or health care professional about how much and when to include all of these foods in your meal plan.
Children, Diet and Type 2 Diabetes
Did you know that 12.5% of American children between six and 17 years old are overweight? Children who are overweight often have pre-diabetes and insulin resistance, conditions that may lead to Type 2 diabetes. In fact, there has recently been a sharp increase in reported cases of diabetes in children and adolescents.
If you are concerned that your child may be at risk, consider the following:
1. Find out if your family has a history of Type 2 diabetes.
2. Encourage your kids to be physically active.
3. Present food as fuel for your child’s body, not a reward for good behavior.
5. Keep serving sizes reasonable.
6. Make healthy eating habits and increased physical activity a family goal – lead by example.
7. Talk to a health care professional about a blood glucose test and nutrition recommendations for
Source: The American Dietetic Association Knowledge Center.
To find a registered dietitian in your area to help you develop a balanced eating plan for your child, contact the American Dietetic Association at 800/366-1655 or go to www.eatright.org.