Simple Steps to Keep Diabetes Under Control
Learning to live with and manage Type 2 diabetes is no small task. Not only is it important to understand the health implications of your condition, you also need to implement and maintain new routines for diet, fitness and medication.Sounds pretty daunting, doesn’t it? It doesn’t have to be. Here are four simple steps you can begin incorporating into your daily routine from Day One.
1. Reduce your daily calorie intake through portion control
Managing your weight through an improved diet is critical for people living with diabetes. Your recommended calorie intake will vary according to age, weight, height, gender and activity levels, so it’s best to speak to your GP or diabetes educator to find out what daily calorie intake you should be aiming for.
Leading Australian dietitian Kate Save recommends portion control as a means of reducing your daily calorie count right off the bat:
“Portion control is a great starting point for anyone looking to manage their weight. Carbohydrates are an important part of a diabetic diet because they contain fibre, so there’s no need to cut out pasta, bread or other grains. Instead, just limit the amount you eat – one to two cups of pasta is an appropriate amount – and pick low GI (glycaemic index) options wherever possible. This means wholegrains and wholemeal which release energy more slowly and keep you feeling fuller for longer, making up for the smaller portion sizes.”
For kitchen inspiration, browse our diabetes-friendly recipes.
2. Incorporate short, sharp bursts of exercise
If you want to see fast results, research has shown high-intensity interval training – where you alternate short bursts of vigorous exercise with longer periods of less vigorous recovery time – can have enormous health benefits.
Kate explains: “If you can fit in just two ten minute reps of high impact training every day, you could end up with better and faster results than if you were to undertake a more moderate form of exercise for longer. Try cycling for ten minutes at a moderate speed, then pedalling as hard as you can for 30-90 seconds, then repeat.
“It works by taking your body out of its comfort zone and forcing it to adapt – even if only for a short time. It’s incredibly powerful and a great option for those who haven’t the stamina, time or inclination to spend hours at the gym.
You can find more tips for getting fit in the outdoors and suggestions here.
3. Practice mindfulness and releasing tension
It’s common for people living with diabetes to feel stressed and for anxieties about your condition to occupy your thoughts. It can make you short-tempered, easily upset and impact on your ability to relax and just enjoy life. That’s why it’s equally as important to take care of your mental health as it is your physical health.
Being aware of how you’re feeling is the key. Next time you catch yourself in a moment of anxiety or irritation – perhaps you’re at a red light waiting impatiently for it to change, or trying to rush
through doing the dishes – acknowledge how you’re feeling and then aim to let it go. Take those few seconds that you at first interpret as an inconvenience as a gift – a few moments to relax, breathe and let go of the brewing tension. Concentrate on your breathing and slow everything down. You’ll feel the tension melt away.
Learn more about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.
4. Set a medication reminder
It’s all too easy to forget things – especially as we get older. But unlike forgetting to pick up milk when you pop to the shops, not remembering to take your diabetes medication can have serious health consequences. Pharmacist James Nevile recommends developing a simple reminder system to help you remember to take your medication on time.
“This can be as simple as setting an alarm on your phone to remind you that they’re due, keeping the medicines in a prominent position at home, such as next to your toothbrush, or even downloading an app for your phone. Other alternatives include using a dose administration aid – a weekly medicine pack you can organise with your pharmacy which separates your medication into clearly marked individual doses. Find a strategy that works for you and stick to it.”
James also stresses the importance of knowing and understanding which medicines you are taking and why: “Make sure you talk to your pharmacist regularly if you’re unsure – most people qualify for an annual government-funded medicine review.”
Remember, it’s important to take each day as it comes. Trying to transform your world overnight is impossible – but if you start small, set yourself realistic goals and work upwards from there, you’ll have every chance of success.