Learn How to Manage Your Diabetes with Nutrition and Physical Activity

Managing your diabetes does not have to be as challenging as it may seem initially. Although there is a lot of information to learn about the condition, taking steps to improve your health through balanced nutrition and regular exercise can help you avoid possible complications and improve your blood sugar levels. Check out the simple steps to follow below to improve your health with diabetes.


Improving your health with diabetes can be simpler than you may think initially. There is not a strict, limited list of foods you are restricted to, nor is there a specific exercise plan you must follow. Surprising, right? The following suggestions can help you start taking charge of your own health through managing your diabetes.

Be sure to follow your primary care physician’s guidance as well as the other health care professionals in your diabetes management team for all aspects of your diabetes care.

Balanced Nutrition

A “diabetes-friendly” meal pattern is typically a regular, healthy balanced diet that everyone should be following, even without diabetes. Today, there is no single diet for individuals with diabetes. There are, however, more specific combinations of food that are recommended you eat together to prevent blood-sugar spikes, such as protein with carbohydrates and eating meals and snacks at regular times throughout the day. By meeting with a diabetes educator and/or a registered dietitian, your health care team can help you create an individualized plan that is right for you.

Tips for Healthy Eating With Diabetes

  • Eat a variety of foods, including whole grains, vegetables, fruit, fat-free and low-fat dairy, and lean protein.
  • Space your meals and snacks evenly throughout the day.
  • Do not skip meals.
  • Try following the USDA Choose My Plate guidelines to learn how to eat a balanced meal.

Regular Physical Activity

As approved by your primary care physician, regular exercise can not only help with weight loss and blood sugar control, but it’s also important for heart health. And these all are key in minimizing your risk of possible diabetes complications. Physical activity can decrease your blood sugar in the short term and will help lower your A1C (average blood sugar) levels when you are active on a regular basis. Start slowly, such as taking a walk a few times a week, and gradually aim for 30 minutes of physical activity, at least five days a week. Doing strength and resistance training, such as lifting weights or yoga, twice a week is also recommended.

Weight Loss

Your diabetes health care team may suggest losing weight to help you improve your blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Making small, gradual changes over time is the key to keeping weight off. Even losing a small amount of weight, such as 5% to 10%, can make a difference in your blood sugar levels. For example, a 7%-weight loss for someone who weighs 180 pounds would need to lose as little as 13 pounds to see improvements with their blood sugar levels.

This is the second article in our Living Well With Diabetes series. Stay tuned for future newsletters highlighting different aspects of diabetes and how to live well with this diagnosis.

Sources:

“Living with Type 2 Diabetes Program,” diabetes.org, accessed July 7, 2020.

“Type 2 diabetes,” mayoclinic.org, accessed July 7, 2020.