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Managing diabetes with lifestyle

Managing diabetes with lifestyle

By Emily Smith, RD, LD, Methodist Health, Prevention and Wellness Services

It is estimated that nearly 10% of the American population has diabetes and 95% of those individuals have Type 2 Diabetes. While Type 1 Diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form.

If you have Type 2 Diabetes, your body does not use insulin properly. Lifestyle modifications are the first line of treatment and can have the biggest impact on normalizing blood glucose levels.

What lifestyle modifications affect Type 2 Diabetes?
Three major factors can help bring glucose levels back into a normal range: weight, exercise and food intake. If a patient can lose 5-7% of their body weight, this alone can help lower blood glucose levels. It is also recommended to get 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly. Ideally, this should be on five separate days with no more than two days between each session. Modification of food intake is usually the most challenging.

What are the biggest priorities for food intake?
Managing diabetes through food intake is not so much about “healthy eating” as it is about moderating carbohydrate intake and maintaining a consistent eating pattern. While carbohydrates are energy for our body, they also cause blood glucose numbers to increase and decrease. Staying within 45 grams of carbohydrate per meal for women or 60 grams of carbohydrate per meal for men can help keep blood glucose levels stable throughout the day. Eating consistent meals on a schedule also plays an important part of managing Type 2 Diabetes. Eliminating carbohydrates completely is not an effective way to control blood glucose.

Where can I get reliable information to help manage my diabetes?
Everyone’s carbohydrate limits, exercise recommendations and medications can be different. What works for one person will not always work for another. Talking to your doctor or a registered dietitian and consulting websites like the American Diabetes Associations diabetes.org are the best places to obtain safe and accurate information.

About Emily Smith
Emily Smith, a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, Certified Health Coach and Type 1 Diabetic, provides care at Methodist Health’s Prevention and Wellness Services located at 110 Second Street in downtown Henderson. She provides one-on-one counseling, nutrition therapy for disease management, meal planning, weight loss counseling, pediatric healthy lifestyle and weight management. Call 270-826-4646 to schedule your appointment with Emily today.