Start a Healthier Life: Lifestyle Changes to Make After Diagnosis with Diabetes

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, it can be a difficult time. The diagnosis alone brings on a lot of questions and uncertainty about the future. One thing to remember is that this does not mean your life will change completely (though it may). There are ways to live healthier even when living with diabetes, so read on for some lifestyle changes you should make after your diagnosis!

Reduce Sugar in Your Diet

Processed sugar is associated with many health problems, and diabetes is one of the more serious ones. Processed sugar is partially so tricky to monitor because it goes by so many names. Some of these names include high fructose corn syrup, maltose, dextrose, and rice syrup. When we think of processed sugar, we often think of candy and sweets, but it can also lurk in condiments, bread, and pasta too. You don’t need to completely eliminate sugar in your diet, but making healthy swaps can go a long way. Consider sticking to whole, natural foods instead of pre-packaged options, for one. Swap soda for a healthier option like water with lemon for added sweetness.

Reduce Your Consumption of Processed Foods

We all know that processed foods are a no-no, but it’s important to remember that processed sugar is in so many of them. You don’t need to become a complete health nut and swear off all processed foods forever. Just become more mindful of when you are consuming processed foods and make healthier choices. Processed foods are often high in sugar, “bad” fats, and calories, which contributes to all of the leading causes of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

If you’re having a hard time determining whether a food is processed or not, here are some questions to ask yourself:

– Do they contain preservatives?

– Is the food shelf-stable for more than two years? (if so, it’s probably processed)

– Does it come in a box or package with ingredients listed on the side of the package? (processed foods often list a laundry list of ingredients.)

– Can you spell out the ingredients? Foods that contain a lot of chemical ingredients that are hard to pronounce are likely processed.

Go Green

Going green with a plant-based diet can do wonders for those trying to reverse Type 2 Diabetes. Eating a clean diet by reducing the consumption of meat and eating more produce can have a profound impact on your diabetes and how you feel.

There are growing studies that support the fact that a plant-based diet helps reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes and lessen symptoms of those already diagnosed. This is due to the specific nutrients and vitamins gained from a plant-based diet.

If going completely plant-based feels unrealistic, start small by swapping a few meals a week into vegetarian or vegan dishes. With the number of vegetarians and vegans (and associated vegetarian and vegan food blogs) growing, it’s becoming even easier to find tasty dishes that will satisfy even the most die-hard meat-eater while still falling into the meat-free category. Play with different ingredients and flavors to find meals you enjoy and add them to your regular rotation.

Manage Your Stress

It is vitally important that you identify your sources of stress and work towards eliminating them, or at least finding healthier ways to cope with them. Since stress can play a huge role in how your diabetes is managed, it’s important to take steps towards reducing that as much as possible. Stress management techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, exercise/physical activity can all have a great impact on reducing stress in your life. But its important to try different methods to see what works for you.

Add Physical Activity to Your Schedule

One of the most effective ways to prevent or reverse Type 2 Diabetes is to lose weight. Start by setting a realistic goal for yourself for weight loss and/or the amount of activity you get in a week. Rather than planning to go from 0 activity per week to packing your schedule every day, start small by incorporating a walk into your schedule 2-3x a week. Gradually increase the distance you walk or how many times a week you walk. Or, aim to lose five pounds first, then increase your goal once you lose the first five pounds. Setting small, achievable goals will help to motivate you and reduce the chance you feel overwhelmed.

The good news is that fitness is more attainable than ever. With YouTube having many at-home workouts you can watch for free, you don’t have to sign-up for a gym membership or invest money into a home gym. You can simply do body-weight exercises from the comfort of your own home.

Choose something you enjoy doing to make your workout feel more fun and something that you actually look forward to. Maybe you play catch with your grandson for 45 minutes when he visits on the weekend and walk with a friend twice during the week. Consider putting on your favorite music or getting a new outfit or pair of sneakers that makes you feel confident and excited to start your workout. Build on your fitness over time and don’t beat yourself up if you have to miss a workout. Just commit to bettering yourself a little bit every week. In a year’s time you will back and be glad you started!

Commit to Change

Type 2 Diabetes is manageable and reversible to anyone who is willing to make the commitment to change. Whether you’ve just been diagnosed or have had diabetes for years, it’s never too late to make a change.

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