Table of Contents
1. Talk with a qualified health care provider.
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes, it’s important to meet with your health care team—your doctors, diabetes nurse educator, registered dietician and other medical professionals—to develop a diabetes care plan. Following your doctor’s recommendations can help prevent pre-diabetes from progressing to type 2 diabetes.
2. Maintain a healthy weight.
Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly not only can help lower your risk for developing diabetes, but these measures can also help prevent diabetes complications in people who have the disease. Recommendations are similar for type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90-95% of cases.
3. Eat three well-balanced meals a day.
People who have diabetes have the same basic nutritional requirements as people without the condition. If you have diabetes, it’s important to eat balanced meals at regular intervals to help regulate your blood sugar levels. Choose healthy between-meal snacks and don’t skip meals.
4. Make healthy food and drink choices.
A healthy eating plan includes plenty of whole-grain foods, fresh vegetables and fruits, lean proteins and low- or non-fat dairy products. Limit sweets, saturated fats and dietary cholesterol, and avoid trans fats. Drink water rather than soft drinks or sweetened juice. Read nutrition facts labels.
5. Limit refined grains and simple carbohydrates.
Foods made from refined grains, such as white bread, rice and pasta, can cause your blood sugar to rise faster than complex carbohydrates found in whole-grain, high-fiber foods. Look for “100% whole grain” on labels and add fiber by eating lentils or beans 2 or 3 times a week.
6. Select lean protein sources.
Choose lean meats—look for cuts with the words “loin” or “90% lean” on the label—and remove the skin from poultry. Eat fish several times a week and consider adding soy-based products to your diet. Switch to non-fat dairy products, like skim milk and fat-free yogurt and cheese.
7. Choose healthy snacks.
Healthy snacks are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber, and low in fat and added sweeteners. Good options include raw vegetables with non-fat dressing, fresh fruit with yogurt dip, whole-grain crackers, and low-fat cheese. Limit processed foods and ask your dietician if you have questions.
8. Increase your physical activity.
Simple ways to add some exercise to your daily routine include: walk around while on the phone, park farther from store entrances, do errands that involve walking (grocery shop, walk the dog), take the stairs instead of the elevator, play with the kids, clean the house or do yard work.
9. Exercise daily.
Aerobic exercise, which uses large muscle groups and increases heart rate, can help regulate blood glucose levels. Start slowly—about 5 or 10 minutes a day—and be sure to talk to your health care provider before beginning an exercise program. Walking, biking, swimming and dancing are good options.
10. Monitor your blood sugar levels closely.
Exercising too much or not enough, eating too much or skipping a meal can cause your blood glucose to become too high or too low. Talk to your health care provider about how to recognize the signs of low or high blood sugar, and what to do in each case.
11. Follow your doctor’s recommendations.
Controlling diabetes is very important. Without proper health care, diabetes can damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and blood vessels, and can increase the risk for other serious medical conditions. It’s not always possible to control the disease through diet and exercise alone, so be sure to see your doctor regularly.