Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Healthy Dietary and Lifestyle Tips
Metabolic Health

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Type 2 diabetes affects millions of people worldwide, and there are many more who are prediabetic. The prediabetic population has a high risk of having diabetes sooner or later. Diabetes brings a long list of complications such as kidney disease, hypertension, cardiovascular risk, and several health issues with it that can turn out to be lifelong. Whether you have Prediabetes or Type 2 Diabetes, there is now ample evidence from several research studies that by making a few healthy food changes, being physically active, and maintaining an ideal weight, it is possible to prevent, delay the onset of and in some cases even reverse Diabetes.

What is Prediabetes and Type-2 Diabetes

Prediabetes is a health condition where you have higher than normal blood sugar levels but not as high as in diabetes. Most of the time, you have no signs or symptoms, and it goes undetected until you develop Type-2 Diabetes. Being Prediabetic also increases your risk of getting heart disease, and stroke.

In Type 2 Diabetes, the cells of your body become resistant to insulin and are unable to absorb the sugar or glucose in your bloodstream for their energy needs. In addition to this, the insulin secreted by your pancreas is ineffective and unable to control the growing blood sugar levels, which results in constant high blood sugar.

Synopsis of Research Study

The Indian Diabetes Prevention Program Study of 531 middle-aged, overweight adults with impaired glucose tolerance and having primary risk factors of family history, age, and obesity. The study participants when put on decreased fat, complex carbohydrates, increased dietary fiber intake and lifestyle changes showed promising results with a significant reduction in risk and prevention of type-2 diabetes. Here are a few Recommendations for Lifestyle & Dietary Changes to Prevent, Delay, and Reverse Diabetes

How to Reverse Prediabetes Naturally? 

Since your blood sugar level is higher than normal but lower than what it is in diabetes, prediabetes can be reversed naturally. You can do so by tweaking your diet plan and making changes to your lifestyle. A healthier lifestyle includes a better diet as well as exercise. Approach a dietitian to curate a prediabetic diet plan for your blood sugar level and your body type. A professional dietitian accounts for any comorbidities and ensures your requirement is met while bringing down the blood sugar. 

When you consume additional calories and fatty foods there is a spike in your blood glucose levels. Eventually, this can lead to diabetes and long-term complications can involve kidney, heart and nerve damage. Weight loss can also be an important factor to reduce blood sugar levels. Here is a detailed guide on what you should and shouldn't avoid.

Dietary Management of Diabetes Mellitus

Actions to Choose for Management of Diabetes

  • Practice Portion Control : Eat smaller food portions. You may also drink a glass full of water before meals so that you feel fuller
  • Eat more Fruits and Vegetables : Such as spinach, broccoli, and peppers. Add leafy vegetables like fenugreek and fenugreek seeds to your diet. Choose fresh fruits or a handful of nuts as a snack.
  • Use Whole Grains : They are rich in minerals, vitamins, and phytoconstituents, and fiber and help in managing sugar levels and aids digestion. Avoid processed carbohydrates and refined flours.
  • Choose Healthy Fats : Such as the unsaturated fats in nuts, omega-3 fatty acids, and vegetable oils to keep type-2 diabetes at bay. On the other hand, Trans-fats abundantly present in baked food, fast food, fried food products, and margarine are harmful.

Recommended foods to manage diabetes

Balance your diet by increasing the intake of these phones to regulate your blood sugar level. 

  1. Sugar and starch should be actively avoided as they break down into simple sugars and eventually into blood glucose. Concentrate on intake of healthy carbohydrates in the form of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy products and so on. 
  2. Dietary fibre helps tremendously in regularizing your blood sugar level by staggering the absorption of sugar from foods. Foods high in fibre make you feel full faster giving you a lesser opportunity to indulge in fatty or sweet foods. 
  3. Consumption of fat is essential for the body however opt for the healthy or the good fats which can be derived from fish, nuts or any oil that can be consumed at room temperature (e.g., olive oil). 

Actions to Avoid for Management of Diabetes

  • Avoid Processed Meats : Get your proteins from fish, peas, nuts, lentils, seeds and nuts instead. Cottage cheese (paneer) is also a good source of protein for vegetarians.
  • Avoid Sugary Drinks : They contribute to weight gain, increased blood glucose, and triglycerides. Drink fresh fruit juices instead of sweetened beverages or carbonated drinks. Choose water over these drinks. Have tea or coffee without loads of milk and sugar. Do not go for powdered drinks or any fortified drinks.

Foods to avoid to manage diabetes

Even the good fats found in nuts and fish are dangerous in excess. Everything in moderation is the key to a healthy diet.

  1. Sweetened drinks like soft drinks or packaged fruit juices should be avoided as they contain a lot of sugar. Go for the healthy options which are unsweetened drinks like water, tea, or fresh juice instead. 
  2. Avoid eating snacks that are high in sugar such as jellies, ice cream, chocolates, or cake. Whenever it is unavoidable you may want to use artificial sweeteners in a moderate amount. 
  3. Sugar, fat and starch should be avoided as much as possible. If you want to include rice in your meal then go for a product such as brown rice, which is high in fibre or spread the consumption throughout the day to avoid a sudden spike in the blood sugar levels. 
  4. Contrary to popular belief you can have up to 2 servings of fruit per day to keep a steady intake of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibre. 
  5. Use less oil while cooking and try to get rid of visible fat before eating. Try switching to cooking methods like steaming, boiling or grilling and use healthy cooking oil with polyunsaturated fat or monounsaturated fat. 
  6. Choose lean meat or poultry without skin. Trim the visible fat and avoid the fatty cuts of meat like bacon. Processed cold cuts contain a lot of fat and additives and are not recommended for those watching their blood sugar levels.
  7. If you wish to consume alcohol, moderate your intake and use sugar-free mixers to accompany the alcohol. Drink slowly and avoid drinking on an empty stomach.
  8. Foods high in salt or sodium should be avoided as well. These include any preserved foods like pickles. 

Here is a list of fruits to avoid in diabetes

Lifestyle Modifications to Prevent Diabetes Mellitus

  • Physical Activity : Walk, run, jog, or join some physical activity for at least 150 minutes each week. Swimming, cycling, skipping can help you stay fit. You may also go for structured or supervised physical activities.
  • Lose Excess Weight : Being overweight is a dominant factor for being prediabetes. Losing just 5 to 7% weight can substantially reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
  • Manage Stress : Consult a coach who will help you manage stress levels and keep you motivated.
  • Quit Smoking : Stop smoking. Smokers are 50% more vulnerable to Type-2 Diabetes
  • Avoid Alcohol : Give up excess drinking habits to reduce the risk of Type-2 Diabetes

Exercise Tips to Manage Diabetes

Any form of physical activity is vital to get the most benefit from your diabetes management plan. If your work requires you to sit in front of a laptop for long hours, a dedicated time for exercise in the morning or evening can make a lot of difference. When you engage in exercises or other physical activities, your muscles use the accumulated sugar to generate energy. It helps your body use insulin better. Generally, strenuous workout routines deliver long-lasting impact, but light workout sessions are fruitful too. If you want to improve your diabetes condition, follow the below-mentioned exercise tips for the best results.

Design an Effective Workout Plan with Your Doctor

If you have been physically inactive for an extended period, you should avoid copying others’ workout routines. Starting with intensive workouts after a prolonged period of inactivity can result in joint pain, muscle soreness, etc. Doctors generally advise such people to start with lighter exercises and advance with time. Beginners can start with a moderate aerobic session lasting 30 minutes daily for at least five days of the week. Talking to your doctor will help you design an exercise plan that is effective yet safe.

Always Maintain an Exercise Schedule

Improving a type 2 diabetes lifestyle can be challenging, especially if you don’t have any exercise plan or schedule to rely on. If you are taking insulin injections and other medications, you should contact your doctor to decide on an ideal time for a workout that gives you visible results.

Stay Hydrated

Exercising regularly can make you feel dehydrated, so ensure you consume enough water and other fluids throughout the day. Drinking at least 2 to 3 liters of water daily can be beneficial.

Keep Track of Your Blood Sugar Levels

It is essential for every diabetes patient. You should ask your doctor what the ideal before and after exercise blood sugar levels are. Knowing the correct blood sugar levels before and after exercise can help you stay informed on your health. You may see a decrease in blood sugar levels during and after a workout. And if you are on insulin injections or taking particular medicines, it may lower the blood glucose levels further. Monitoring your glucose levels before and after exercise will help you stay on the right path.

Make Adjustments to Your Diabetes Treatment Plan

Patients taking insulin may be recommended to reduce their insulin dosage before exercising, as insulin paired with extreme exercising can result in hypoglycemia. You should always keep monitoring your blood glucose (sugar) levels before and after exercise and communicate the same to your doctor. Based on the numbers, your doctor may change your medication plan to align it with your exercise routine better.

Additionally, you should always keep some glucose tablets and snacks handy during exercise. They can help if your blood sugar levels drop drastically low during exercise. You can also wear a medical identification bracelet for safety purposes.

Medications to Manage Diabetes

If exercise and a healthy diet fall short in managing your blood sugar levels, you may be recommended insulin and other diabetes medications. But much of their effectiveness will depend on the dosage and timing of these prescribed medications. If you are taking medicines for some other condition, it may also influence your blood sugar levels. In such cases, you can do the following:

Be Cautious with New Medications

Suppose your doctor recommends any new medicine or you are considering getting an over-the-counter medicine to treat high blood pressure or cholesterol. In that case, you should ask your doctor or pharmacist if this new medicine will influence your blood sugar levels. There are alternatives to every medicine, so if the medication you’re planning to buy makes you vulnerable to blood sugar spikes, your doctor will probably recommend a new medicine that is safe to use.

Store Insulin Properly

Improperly stored insulin or insulin past the expiration date is ineffective in controlling blood sugar levels. It is because insulin is sensitive to extreme temperatures, and very high or low temperatures can render it useless. Hence, if you use insulin, ask the doctor about the ideal storage temperature and store it accordingly.

Report Problems to Doctors

Taking diabetes medicine is not enough; you must also monitor its impact on your blood sugar levels. If you notice your blood sugar levels going too high or too low after taking a particular medicine, talk to your doctor immediately.

If you want to get the maximum benefit from the right diabetes medication, make sure you follow all these tips.

Alcohol

Your liver is responsible for releasing stored sugar into the bloodstream when the blood glucose levels start falling. But if your liver is engaged in metabolizing alcohol, it may not release sugar to counteract the falling glucose levels. Alcohol may result in instant blood sugar falling, or its effect can be seen even after 24 hours of consuming alcohol. If you have diabetes and drink alcohol, you should follow the tips shared below.

Choose Your Drinks Carefully

Dry wines and light beers have fewer calories and carbs than other alcoholic drinks. So you can pick these over other alcoholic drinks. If you like drinking mixed drinks or sugar-free mixers, options like seltzer, diet soda, club soda, and diet tonic are perfect. These drinks won’t raise your blood sugar levels.

Check Blood Glucose Levels Before Going to Bed

Alcoholic beverages can reduce your blood sugar levels, and the effect can last a long time. So even if you’ve had your favorite drink in the evening, we suggest taking your glucose readings before going to bed. If the blood sugar levels aren’t between 5.6 mmoI/L and 7.8 mmoI/L, take a quick snack to counter the sugar drop. You can also have a glucose tablet if you have any.  

Don’t Drink Alcohol on an Empty Stomach

People taking diabetes medicines or insulin should never drink alcohol on an empty stomach to prevent blood sugar drops. You can eat something before you drink or have a meal or a light snack with your drink to keep the blood sugar levels in check.

Tally Your Calories

If you don’t want alcohol to influence your blood sugar levels negatively, we’d recommend tracking and including the drink-related calorie count in your daily calorie count. If you have recently started daily calorie counting or don’t know how to count the calories from an alcoholic drink, your doctor or nutritionist can give you the best suggestions.

These steps might appear overwhelming, but following them can help you better manage your blood sugar levels. Consider them as part of healthy lifestyle changes for diabetes Type 2.

Menstruation and Menopause

Paying particular attention to your blood sugar levels before (a week prior) and during menstruation is crucial because hormones change during this time and can result in intense blood sugar fluctuations. To keep your blood sugar (glucose) levels in check during this period, follow the below-mentioned tips:

Check Blood Sugar Frequently

Women approaching menopause or going through this phase should talk to their doctor about the need to monitor their blood sugar levels frequently. Since menopause and low blood sugar symptoms are mostly similar, it is easy to confuse the symptoms of one problem with another. Your doctor can guide you better with personalized recommendations depending on your blood sugar goals and health condition.

Learn to Identify Patterns

You should be diligent and disciplined in terms of daily blood glucose monitoring. Doing so will provide you with enough data to check, compare, and assess to predict blood sugar fluctuations, especially during menstruation.

Make Relevant Adjustments to Your Treatment Plan

Maintaining blood sugar levels at healthy levels requires a lot of effort. You may have to change your exercise routine, diet plan, and medications. Together these changes can help you control your blood glucose levels. You can talk to your doctor from time to time to get the right adjustments made for the best results.

Additionally, if you are planning to take birth control pills, remember that oral contraceptives may increase the risk of rising blood sugar levels. People with diabetes can consider all other birth control forms without much worry. However, talking to your doctor for personalized health recommendations is suggested.

Stress

One of the best and most healthy lifestyle choices for diabetes is reducing stress. When you’re stressed, the hormones in your body may cause a big spike in your blood sugar levels. These hormones influence blood sugar levels as a response to prolonged stress levels. Moreover, following your regular diabetes management plan can become challenging if you are under extreme stress. Fortunately, there are effective ways to overcome this situation. You should stick to the below-mentioned tips to improve your condition.

Take Control of Your Stress Levels

If you experience extreme stress, start with taking small steps. Monitor and assess how stress affects your blood sugar levels and learn to fight it. Learning basic relaxation techniques, setting boundaries and healthy limits, prioritizing tasks, and performing mindfulness activities can help manage your stress levels. Try to identify common stressors and avoid them. You can also follow a regular exercising routine to keep blood sugar levels and stress under control.

Get Help Whenever Needed

Having a doctor by your side can help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels, but you should not limit yourself to a diabetes doctor alone. If you feel stressed most of the time, consider reaching out to a psychologist or a clinical social worker. They can help you identify stress-generating factors and devise effective ways to reduce their influence. The more you contact relevant professionals for help, the more stress-coping ways you’ll learn on your way.

Look for Stress Patterns

An effective way to identify stress patterns is by logging your stress levels on a scale from 1 to 10 whenever you jot down your blood sugar level. Building this habit might take time, but you will start noticing a pattern once it is done. Identifying the right pattern is the first step to reduce your stress levels, so follow this step as early as you can. 

FAQs

What breakfast is good for a diabetic?

With diabetes, it is necessary to consume food that helps manage blood sugar levels. Thus, it means managing the intake of carbs. Here are breakfasts that are good for diabetic people-

  • Eggs: Low in calories and high in proteins
  • Greek yogurt: Made with berries, nutritious and helps to keep blood sugar levels in the range 
  • Overnight Chia seed pudding: High in fibre and omega-3 fatty acid
  • Oatmeal: High fibre content thus helps to lower sugar levels
  • Multigrain avocado toast: High in fibre and monounsaturated fatty acids to keep the blood sugar level balanced. 

Does vegan diet help lower blood sugar?

Yes, a healthy vegan diet may help in keeping the blood sugar level in a healthy range. As per the researchers, in type 2 diabetes, a healthy vegan diet controls the glucose level in a much better way than any other diabetes diet. It also helps in insulin sensitivity and reduces the body weight of overweight people. 
What is the best diet for people with diabetes?

When we talk about the best diet for diabetic people, it means keeping the blood sugar level in the range. Thus, it should include a diet with complex carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, and dietary fiber along with restrictions on simple carbohydrates and sweetened drinks. This means the best diet will include high fibrous foods to have in a portion size that will help with satiety thus, preventing overeating.

Bottom Line

Type-2 Diabetes is a global challenge. However, making incremental changes in lifestyle with healthy food choices can essentially work wonders. Talk to your Healthcare provider about your risks of being Prediabetes or Type 2 Diabetes and what you can do to prevent, delay the onset of and in some cases even reverse Diabetes. Also read about how to cure diabetes.

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