How to Outsmart Diabetes

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If you are living with type 2 diabetes, you’ve probably faced a dining scenario like this: You are finishing your plate of grilled pork tenderloin, asparagus and rice pilaf when your well-meaning sister-in-law begins pushing her famous double-chocolate fudge cheesecake. You reply with a polite “No, thank you.” But your refusal is met with “Oh, come on. It’s a special occasion.” You cave. And there goes your blood sugar.

The problem? Bad daily decisions actually can change the course of the disease, says endocrinologist Melissa Li-Ng, MD. Research has shown that lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, are key to controlling type 2 diabetes. Smart choices can prevent or delay damage to the eyes, feet, skin and kidneys.

“I tell my patients that they should feel empowered by the fact that they can reap big rewards by making healthy decisions. They will see the improvement,” she says.

1. Educate your plate

Research points to a need to retrain our brains when it comes to portion control, Dr. Li-Ng says. Think about this: A heaping plate of pasta may contain upwards of 90 grams of carbohydrates, when a diabetic should be getting only 60 to 75 grams of carbs for dinner. Consult a dietitian to learn portion control and calculate just how many calories you need to maintain or safely lose weight.

2. Set realistic weight goals

The insulin resistance of type 2 diabetes gets worse with obesity. Reaching an ideal weight is critical, but to do that, you need to set goals.

“If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it,” Dr. Li-Ng says. Your goals also need to be realistic. “You may never be able to reach the 120 pounds you were in high school again — it might not even be a healthy target weight for you. But if you aim for unrealistic goals, you will be disappointed every time and give up.”

3. Get moving

Dr. Li-Ng recommends 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week. You need to get your heart rate up, but you don’t need high-impact, muscle-toning workouts. Try walking or a light jog. Just get your body moving for two 15-minute walks a day or three 10-minute walks a day.

If you’re obese and have trouble with back or knee pain, start slow and try low-impact alternatives such as a stationary bike, an elliptical machine, swimming or arm exercises.

4. Recognize obstacles

Taking control of your diabetes and keeping a positive mindset mean that you will have to overcome inevitable obstacles. Lack of time can be an issue, so you have to make exercise and healthy eating a priority to be successful.

In addition, you may feel fine and have no symptoms — but long-term complications are still a problem. Be sure to take your medications regularly in addition to making healthy lifestyle choices. “Once complications, such as neuropathy or blurry vision, set in, you can’t reverse all the damage,” Dr. Li-Ng notes.

5. Bust your stress

Having quick “escape valves” can help you avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as eating for comfort. “Be aware of what types of situations typically sabotage your healthy routines,” Dr. Li-Ng says. “Recognizing where you tend to slip up is an important first step. Arm yourself with several stress-busting alternatives, such as exercising or calling a friend, to make you feel better without undermining your overall health.”

  • Marry

    I was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes and put on Metformin on June 26th, 2014. I started the ADA diet and followed it 100% for a few weeks and could not get my blood sugar to go below 140. Finally i began to panic and called my doctor, he told me to get used to it. He said I would be on metformin my whole life and eventually insulin. At that point i knew something wasn’t right and began to do a lot of research. On April 13th I found this book on
    w­j­e­5­9­2­.­com/Cure-Diabetes-Naturally.html . I read the book from end to end that night because everything the writer was saying made absolute sense. I started the diet that day and the next morning my blood sugar was down to 100, the next day was in the 90’s and now i have a fasting blood sugar between Mid 70’s and the 80’s. My doctor took me off the metformin after just one week of being on this lifestyle change. I have lost over 30 pounds in a month. I now work out twice a day and still have tons of energy. I have lost 6+ inches around my waist and I am off my high blood pressure medication too. I have about 20 more pounds to go till my body finds its ideal weight. The great news is, this is a lifestyle I can live with, it makes sense and it works. God Bless the writer. I wish the ADA would stop enabling consumers and tell them the truth. You can get off the drugs, you can help yourself, but you have to have a correct lifestyle and diet. No more processed foods.

    • Ez Acosta

      It pays to advocate for our own health. The standards of health in conventional medicine is atrocious. Im glad you found the path out of sickness. So much of this countries ills goes back to nutrition and clean living and food. The truth is out there.

  • Kimberly Ryan

    In 2007, I was diagnosed with severe fibromyalgia, placed on narcotic therapy, extremely active, petite, until three years ago. Cannot take Lyrica or gabapentin due to severe allergies and Cymbalta doesn’t help. I was taken off these medications because of all the studies contraindicated their effectiveness. Now I’m not on anything. I’ve gained almost 50 pounds, due to decreased activity, in severe pain, have increased neuropathy and muscle weakness, all of which are not being addressed. To add fuel to the fire, I had a brain aneurysm in 4/2000 which left me with traumatic brain injury, as well as, physical side effects. I’ve kept these to a minimum by staying physically fit and active. Because my health has deteriorated and by not being as physical, these side effects are becoming more apparent again. There is no one treating fibromyalgia in my area and I also live in NYS with the strict regulations of narcotics. I don’t fit the “normal” treatment for this diagnosis, nor do I have a history of alcohol or drug abuse, yet I cannot get help. It’s unfortunate that someone who goes from being highly active all their life, athletic, loves the outdoors, lives alone, owns their own house, used to be an RN, becomes someone who struggles to get through the day. It’s not right.