Eating well, exercising regularly, and making other lifestyle changes can help you manage blood sugar, prevent diabetes-related complications, and improve your overall health. Here’s what you can do to stay healthy with type 2 diabetes.
What you eat plays an important role in managing diabetes. When you have type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use insulin properly. Insulin is necessary to take glucose (sugar) from the food you eat and move it into cells, where it’s used for energy. When there’s not enough insulin to do the job, glucose builds up in the blood, a situation that can eventually lead to diabetes-related complications throughout the body. Some foods affect blood sugar more than others, so to manage diabetes and keep your blood sugar in your target range, it’s crucial to understand how to eat properly.
1. The Basics of a Diabetes-Friendly Diet
There’s no such thing as one specific “diabetes diet.” The best diet for people with diabetes is the same basic diet that’s healthy for everyone — one that is well balanced and includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. When you eat, your body breaks down the nutrients in your food into carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Balancing these three nutrients, and watching portion sizes, can help you keep your blood sugar in a healthy range. Other keys to eating healthfully with type 2 diabetes include:
- Eating meals and snacks on a regular schedule
- Eating about the same amount of food at each meal or snack from day to day
- Choosing a wide variety of foods to get the nutrients you need
- Reading food labels carefully
- Limiting your intake of sodium, saturated fat, refined carbs, and processed foods, and avoiding trans fat