Did you know that based on 2017 statistics, over 2.3 million people in Canada alone have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes? Although diabetes can be a serious condition, many diet and lifestyle changes have been shown to improve health outcomes. Here are science-based insights from a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator on how to manage type 2 diabetes symptoms and 5 tips to help control blood sugars:
1 – Eat your carbs
Contrary to what many people believe when it comes to diabetes, carbs should not be removed from your diet when trying to manage your blood sugars. That being said, there are certain carbs that are better for you to limit those spikes. Instead of sweets, such as baked goods, candy, and ice cream, focus on having more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and low-fat dairy products.
Balance carbs in your meals and snacks with a source of protein. Balancing meals and snacks slows down the digestion of carbohydrates and therefore the release of sugar into our blood. This doesn’t mean that you have to eat meat at every meal and snack, other sources of protein include Greek yogurt, nuts and seeds, and legumes, like chickpeas and black beans.
2 – Stay hydrated
Did you know that being dehydrated can influence your blood sugar levels? When your blood sugars increase, your kidneys try and remove that excess sugar, pulling more water with it. This can lead to increased feelings of thirst and urination. Ensuring proper hydration is key in helping to properly remove sugar from the body. Did you know that you that cold weather can also diminish the body’s thirst response by up to 40%, even when dehydrated?! As the colder months arrive, why not try some warm and comforting drinks to keep hydrated? Some examples include herbal teas (apple, cinnamon, pumpkin spice), homemade lattes (using cashew milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg) or simply hot water with lemon and honey!
3 – Moderate stress levels
Although not always thought of as the first thing, stress can have a significant impact on blood sugar levels! When you’re stressed, hormones like cortisol and glucagon are released, which can both increase blood sugars. Whenever you may be feeling stressed, try mindfulness meditation, exercise, or seeking help from a counsellor or health professional. Reducing stress may help lower secretion of these hormones and improve insulin function.
4 – Sleep hygiene
Research has shown that poor sleep has been linked to uncontrolled blood sugars, as it can also increase cortisol hormone, which can affect appetite and sensitivity of insulin. Exercise and staying away from excessive stimulation before bed have been shown to improve sleep. Always talk to your doctor or health care provider regarding concerns with sleep that you may have.
5- Regular exercise
We all know how important it is to stay active, but exercise has huge benefits on blood sugar control with diabetes! It is recommended to meet 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week, while adding in 2 resistance training sessions (like weight lifting), if possible, to your exercise routine. Combining both aerobic and resistance training has shown to assist in weight loss, improve insulin sensitivity, lower blood pressure, improve bone health, lower rates of cardiovascular disease and some times of cancer, increase energy levels and improve sleep.
To sum this up: There isn’t just one single approach or magic pill, to controlling blood sugar levels for those with diabetes. Take a holistic approach, set small achievable goals, and start now!
Contact a NutriProCan dietitian to get support with your nutrition needs and meal plans!
Learn more about Nesrine Cheikh, RD, DDePT, MScFN, CDE: