When you find out you have diabetes, you may feel as if your life has spun out of control. Suddenly, the foods you love are forbidden. And if you have Type 1 diabetes or diabetic neuropathy, you may need to inject yourself with insulin regularly to control your blood sugar.
Once you learn to substitute new foods for old ones and develop new interests and activities, you can start to control your own insulin levels. Dr. Yvonne C. Ortega, our medical director at St. Rose Integrative Medical Center offers these five tips for maintaining healthy blood-sugar levels:
1. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits
Instead of missing the things you can’t eat anymore, explore your grocery store to find fruits and vegetables that are rich in fiber and taste great. If your budget is tight, you may choose frozen or canned (without added sugar), or hit the dollar store or an ethnic grocery for variety.
Superfoods that control blood sugar include:
Inexpensive, filling, and sweet, sweet potatoes can be roasted, boiled, cut into baked “fries,” and turned into soups and no-sugar desserts.
Dark, leafy, green vegetables
Kale, spinach, and collards are versatile and loaded with vitamins A, C, E, K, and lots of healthy minerals, too. Chop them raw for salads, add to smoothies and soups, or saute as a side dish.
Berries and citrus fruit
Trade in processed sweets for the real thing: Add fresh berries and oranges or grapefruit to salads or eat them as dessert.
Whole grains and beans
Not only are grains and beans a tasty combo, they’re filling and inexpensive, too. They’re found in a wide range of world cuisines, such as rice and beans from Mexico, lentils and rice from India, and garbanzos and whole-grain bread from Greece.
Add in fish that is high in Omega-3s (such as salmon), as well as yogurt and nuts. If you’re not sure how to prepare whole foods, ask your grocer for tips or ask your local librarian to steer you toward the international cookbook section.
2. Don’t shop in the middle
If you have shopped for fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish, you probably noticed that you pushed your cart around the edges of the grocery store. That’s the best and healthiest place to stay when you’re controlling your blood sugar.
Avoid the middle aisles, where the processed foods are stacked. They’re loaded with sugar, corn syrup, and hydrogenated fats that spike your blood sugar. The worst culprits are sodas and flavored drinks.
Instead, drink plenty of plain water. Add flavor by:
- Squeezing or slicing lemon, orange, or other citrus fruits
- Infusing your water with cucumbers, strawberries, or fresh mint
- Making your own unsweetened iced teas in black, green, or herbal flavors
Be aware that fruit juice is high in sugar, and be sure to count that in your meal plan. You can also drink coffee and tea with a low-carb or no sweetener, but use alcohol in moderation.
3. Find fun ways to move
Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, exercise is essential to keeping you healthy. If you have Type 1 diabetes, talk to Dr. Ortega about how to avoid spikes or lows in your insulin levels before and after exercise.
Some fun ways to move include:
- Taking daily walks with friends or family
- Stretching at home or at yoga class
- Taking a dance or martial arts class
- Joining a sports club
- Parking a few blocks from your destination
- Walking up and down stairs
Even cleaning your house and doing yard work can count as exercise. Try to work on four key areas of fitness:
- Strength (through weights or lifting)
- Aerobics (walking, running, etc.)
4. Lose weight
If you follow the first three tips, this tip should be a natural consequence. By eliminating foods that stress your body, adding foods that control your blood sugar, and upping your activity level, you may find yourself finally shedding pounds that have bothered you for years.
When you meet with Dr. Ortega, she advises you about the healthiest weight for your age, sex, and body type. If you have trouble losing weight or maintaining a stable weight, Dr. Ortega may refer you to a medical weight-loss program.
5. See your doctor regularly
Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, you and your doctor need to monitor your blood-sugar levels regularly to be sure your insulin is at healthy levels. If you do have diabetic neuropathy, Dr. Ortega offers a cutting-edge treatment that actually regenerates your nerves and is not available everywhere. Dr. Ortega is a leader in neuropathy medicine and welcomes patients from all over the country for diabetic neuropathy relief.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Ortega, call us today or use the online booking form.