November is World Diabetes month and 14 November is World Diabetes day. As part of diabetes awareness during this month, I have put together important nutritional information - that every person with diabetes should take to heart. Diabetes does not have to control you. Take responsibility – you are in the driver seat!
Know your goals and actively pursue it
Whether your goal is to lower your bodyweight, to improve your blood glucose readings to a certain level or to achieve a specific HBA1C level, discuss your goals with a healthcare practitioner and write them down. If you do not set goals, it is difficult to achieve and continuously improve. Blood glucose levels impact every system in our bodies – from ou digestive system to stress levels.
Developing a practical plan to be physically active, is non-negotiable
Physical activity lowers blood glucose levels and can improve the sensitivity of your cells to insulin. Choose an activity that you will enjoy and that fits into your lifestyle. Be specific with regards to which days and time you will be active, e.g. brisk walks for 30 min long on weekend days.
Nutrition and diabetes
In people with diabetes, the amount of insulin released is not adequate for clearing glucose from your blood to your body cells. The 3 basic nutrition components that affect your blood glucose levels on a daily basis are: 1) Timing of your meals and snacks; 2) the quantity of foods and drinks you take in daily; and 3) the types of foods and drinks you consume daily.
Sugar and diabetes
We all like a bit of sweetness in our diets from time to time. Some people with diabetes avoid sugar at all cost, and others allow themselves some sugar here and there. Products that contain large amounts of sugar such as biscuits, sweets, chocolates, soft drinks, fruit juices, cakes and flavoured waters should be avoided. Working closely with a dietitian, can help you to include small amounts of sugar, if your blood glucose levels are well controlled.
Your eating plan and treatment is individual
Following fad diets to lose weight and control blood glucose levels, can be dangerous in the long term. Consult with your medical team, which may include physicians, biokineticists and dietitians. Exercise, nutrition, medication and blood glucose monitoring are equally important to ensure good health.
Diabetes and alcohol
How much your drink, is more important than what you drink. Best is to not drink at all, but for those who prefer, men should limit alcohol to a maximum of 2 per day and women should not consume more than 1 drink daily. Drinking too many alcoholic drinks per day on a consistent basis, adds to high blood glucose levels. Always eat a meal or snack when enjoying alcohol to prevent hypoglycaemia.
Enjoy life and take time to relax!
Stress can take its toll on blood glucose levels. Take up a hobby, exercise or talk to a therapist if stress is negatively affecting your blood glucose levels.
Compiled by Claudine Ryan, Registered Dietitian (SA)
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to replace individual professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment from your healthcare practitioner(s). Always consult with your healthcare practitioner(s) before making changes to your treatment plan.