How many times, before eating a snack, do we think and ask, “Should I”, “Am I really hungry”, “Did I exercise today or this week”, or “When was the last time I monitored my blood glucose levels ”levels"? Interestingly, we can think of these answers; “Why should I”, “I am just in my 30’s or 40’s”, “Do I need to”, “I don’t have any symptoms”, “maybe, someday I will exercise when my doctor will tell me”. This attitude towards health develops certain behaviours which are not healthy for us ,but due to unawareness or non-willingness to become aware, we avoid listening to health advice or follow it. Eventually, most of us are at risk of developing this lifestyle disorder that is acting as a sweet poison, killing us inside while we are unaware of it.
Diabetes is a lifestyle disorder whose prevalence is increasing with each passing day. It’s a metabolic disorder characterized by insulin resistance and increased blood sugar levels beyond the normal range for extended durations. With the modern lifestyle making people more sedentary, less physically active, and more inclined towards junk food, the risk of diabetes has increased multi-folds during the past 2 decades. Diabetes is also associated with multiple comorbid conditions, including obesity, hypertension, etc.
Management of diabetes includes the use of anti-diabetic medicines/insulin as well as behavior modification. While it is easier to adhere to treatment strategies as prescribed by your physician; behavior modification requires self-determination and motivation for a dedicated regimen to adopt healthy habits. Your healthcare provider can help you explain the benefits of these behavior changes and effective ways to implement them. Research has shown that some specific behavior modifications can help you manage your diabetes or prevent you from developing diabetes if you are a prediabetic.
Diet plays an important role in managing blood glucose levels. When you are eating it is important to assess whether your body really needs the calories or you are eating out of habit. Abandon unhealthy practices like eating just to finish the food or because you like that taste. Monitor your portions and along with that the calorie intake to maintain a balanced diet. A balanced diet with more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can help tremendously. Reduce the intake of junk food or processed and canned foods.
The best food items for diabetes are vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, low-fat dairy products, and healthy protein sources like fish. Non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and tomatoes should be preferred instead of starchy ones like potatoes and corn. Avoid fried foods or foods high in saturated and trans-fat. Avoid foods high in salt. Limit the consumption of foods that are high in sugar like aerated beverages, candies, baked goods, ice cream, energy drinks, and so on. If you are looking to consume alcohol, moderate the intake and ensure you do not drink on an empty stomach.
It is known that high blood sugar can cause dehydration. If you drink enough water then the excess glucose can be reduced in the body through urine. It is recommended that men should consume at least 13 cups of water (3.08 liters) and those who should consume at least 9 cups of water (2.13 liters) every day. If you don't like consuming tasteless water you can make it more refreshing by adding slices of lemon or cucumber to your drinking water.
Exercise is important to control blood glucose levels. It can reduce the medications required to manage them. 30 minutes of activity daily is recommended to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Those 30 minutes should make you sweat and breathe harder than usual, increasing your heart rate. This means cardio is the best form of exercise for those looking for a high-intensity workout. If not every day at least a five-day regimen should be fixed to achieve the minimum exercise per week, which is three hours.
To conclude, the modern lifestyle is pushing us towards such behaviors that are easy to follow and require less effort. Contrary to this, we have to stay motivated and adapt to behavior modifications to lead a healthy life. This sense of adapting to new behaviors has to come from within, and we have to become aware of our health and surroundings. First and foremost is the right attitude to have awareness.
This usually comes through self-control, and once the results are visible, the level of commitment increases. To manage diabetes better, we should eat right, exercise regularly, and lead an active life. If not by leaps, we should try baby steps to develop healthy habits and lifestyle. How many do now say “I will”.