Diet, Exercise and Diabetes
What's so important about diet and insulin-dependent diabetes?
a nutshell: control. The goal is to design a diabetes
diet or meal plan that balances types and amounts
of food so that blood glucose levels are controlled.
That's sound diabetes management and the way to
achieve more freedom. If this sounds complicated,
relax. It's mostly following the same good eating
rules that every health-conscious person follows
these days. To get started, all you need is a little
information, discipline and a big helping of common
sense. But keep in mind that the facts, tips and
guidelines that follow are only the beginning. Your
physician or nutritionist will provide information
and guidance on the best diet and exercise plan
for you or your child.
to eat...what to avoid
be surprised how many different foods are on the
diabetes diet. Generally speaking, only the portion
size need be limited to keep your diet balanced.
Once you get into the habit of eating less fat and
smaller portions of a variety of nutritious foods,
you and your entire family will actually enjoy the
the fat. Most Americans eat eight times as much
fat as they need. Much of it is simply empty calories.
The worst offenders are saturated fats--animal fats,
palm oil and coconut oil--because of their high
cholesterol content. Fat restriction is especially
important for those with diabetse because of cholesterol's
link to heart disease. Here are some tipes on cutting
down fat consumption.
there are several kinds of artificial sweeteners
around. Saccharin, Aspartame and Sorbitol are
used in a wide variety of products--from diet
sodas and chewing gum to candy and baked goods.
However, there are other health concerns about
each, so talk to your physician or nutritionist
about how much of these sweeteners is okay to
eat or drink.
it with a grain of salt Restricting salt, which
can raise blood pressure, is particularly important
for people with diabetes--as is anythign that
threatens the circulartory system. This means
more than simply reducing salt intake in the diet.
It means limiting its use in cooking and watching
out for "hidden" salt found in many
types of processed foods. Here are some suggestions
to get you started:
+ Complex Carbohydrates = Better Health
agree that we all need more fiber in our diets and
should replace high animal protein diets with high
complex carbohydrate meals. The benefits are numerous--improved
digestion and elimination, lowered blood cholesterol
and blood pressure, and perhaps even an increased
sensitivity to insulin.
more of these nutrients into your life by:
whole grain cereals, breads and other products
such as brown rice, kasha, bulgur and barley.
fresh vegetables and fruit with the skins on.
overcooking vegetables (overcooking breaks down
Exchange List plan for healthy eating
plan a properly varied diet, you need to know which
foods can be substituted for others to supply nutrients
in each of the four basic food groups:
- Fruits and vegetables
and grains - Dairy The foods within each group contain
equivalent amounts of carbohydrates, protein, fat
and calories. For example, one corn on the cob is
equal to one small baked potato is equal to half
of a bagel, and so on. Timing is important, too.
You'll need to keep a precise schedule or meals
to maintain blood sugar at the proper level and
reduce the change of a hypoglycemic (low blood sugar)
episode. Never skip a meal. If you are unable to
eat your full meal on time, make sure a snack is
eaten as soon as possible to keep your blood sugar
consistent mealtimes are simply another good habit
all of us should develop.
calories: Your nutritionist will help determine
how many daily calories are just right for you or
your child. Once you know it, stick to it as much
as possible. But don't be too hard on yourself or
your child if you overindulge once in awhile.
sizes: You'll need to weigh foods until you learn
to judge the size of portions by eye. Carry your
Exchange List with you until you know it by heart.
alcohol: The less alcohol, the better. If you do
have a drink, take it with food. Be sure to count
the calories in any alcohol consumed. Alcohol can
affect your blood sugar rapidly, so take precautions
when having a drink.
are four basic nutritional principles for people with
consistent. The daily meal plan should be relatively
consistent in the total calorie intake and in the
balancing of basic food groups: Carbohydrates,
fats and proteins.
for special activities. Extra food should be eaten
when extra or unusual physical activity is planned.
Likewise, food consumed above your diet limits should
be compensated for with extra insulin or activity.
hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia or high blood sugar
can be caused by eating rapidly absorbed simple
sugars (like candy).
hypoglycemia. Avoid hypoglycemia, a dip in blood
sugar levels, by eating meals at consistent times
and balancing food intake with activity.
exercise for better health.
who exercise regularly look healthier. They move more
easily and gracefully. Their bodies are firmer and
they project a more vigorous and energetic image.
But that's not all. Research has shown that regular
exercise improves circulation, body stamina, joint
flexibility, lung capacity and mental alertness.
people with diabetes, exercise has other important
insulin required. Exercise frequently reduces insulin
requirements in two ways: Increasing the body's
sensitivity to insulin and by burning glucose more
risk of heart disease. Physical activity lowers
cholesterol levels in the blood so that the risk
of arteriosclerosis and coronary artery disease
may be lessened--an important consideration, given
that people with diabetes are at a high risk for
heart and circulatory ailments.
restrictive diet. Exercise burns calories. So workouts,
whether in the form of a long walk or vigorous tennis
match, mean you can eat more and still keep your
weight at a healthy level.
a general rule, the most effective exercise for people
with (or without) diabetes is one that exercises the
cardiovascular system. These aerobic exercises include:
Muscle-building exercises, such as working out with
weights, are good for strength but are less effective
for the heart. Whatever you do, start slow and work
on making the workout part of your regular routine.
Always consult your physician before beginning any
program. How often? Most experts agree that a 30-minute
workout about four times a week is a good goal.
For people who are not accustomed to exercise, three
days a week is an excellent starting point. Warm
up and cool down for at least five minutes before
and after your workout.
- Do try to exercise every day at the same time. Be as
consistent with your exercise as you are with your
mealtimes and insulin injections.
- Do exercise an hour after a meal when blood glucose
levels are at their highest.
- Don't exercise when insulin is working at peak action.
If this happens, eat before doing so.
- Do test your blood sugar levels before exercising.
- Do eat a small snack or drink fruit juice 15-20 minutes
before a workout if your blood sugar levels are
not too high. Carry a fast carbohydrate "pick-me-up"
with you when exercising. just in case.
- Don't inject insulin into a part of the body you'll be
exercising. It will be absorbed faster there.
- Do exercise with a friend if possible and be on the
lookout for signs of hypoglycemia.