Learning to eat well is an important part of managing your diabetes

Many people find sticking to a healthy diet tricky, even without diabetes. For people with diabetes, a nutritious diet means paying very careful attention to things like serving size, carbohydrates, and mealtimes.

  • Read food labels. You can begin to understand how different foods will affect your blood sugar by reading their nutrition labels. Two key things to pay attention to are serving size and carbohydrates. For a helpful tool that lists the nutritional value of certain foods, you can use the food look-up tool on Cornerstones4Care® after signing up
Nutrition and exercise when using Levemir

Serving size shown is based on the diet for an average male.

  • Understand serving size. When looking at the serving size, be sure to compare the serving size to total servings. The sizes on the label may not be the same as those in your meal plan
  • Examine fat content. Good fats (such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fish) can help protect your heart and lower cholesterol. Bad fats (like saturated and trans fats found in fast food, butter, and junk foods) raise cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease
  • Look for healthier foods. Try choosing foods that have less refined sugar and simple carbohydrates. Keep in mind that a sugar-free product may have the same amount of carbohydrate grams as its standard version. A dietician can help you create a meal plan that includes more healthy options to fit your lifestyle
  • Control portions. Check food labels to see the ideal portion size, as it could be less than you usually eat
  • Balance carbohydrate intake with insulin needs. Your health care provider can help you understand how a food’s carbohydrate count can increase your blood sugar, and how much insulin you will need to balance that increase
  • Keep track of meal and snack times. Your blood sugar may rise and fall throughout the day. The food you eat and the times you eat it work with your insulin treatment to keep your blood sugar stable

The importance of staying active

Staying active can be an important part of your daily routine to keep your blood sugar within your target range. When you are active, your cells become more sensitive to insulin so the insulin can work more efficiently. Exercising consistently can help lower blood sugar and improve your A1C.

Exercise doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Activities like walking the dog, cleaning the house, and washing the car can be part of your exercise routine. How you choose to exercise is less important than finding a way to stay active regularly. Just be sure to consult your health care provider before starting an exercise regimen.

For example, you could:

  • Lengthen your daily chores, like making several trips to the laundry room instead of one
  • Replace a coffee break with going for a walk
  • Walk around while on the phone instead of staying seated
  • Use the stairs at work instead of the elevator
  • Stretch while watching TV instead of lounging
  • Park at the far end of a parking lot to get a longer walk
  • Rake leaves in the yard or garden

For more support, talk with your health care provider, who can recommend good ways to stay active on a daily basis.

Check in before you start

In addition to helping you make decisions about your exercise routine, your health care provider can talk to you about the diabetes medicines and over-the-counter medications you take. Depending on your level of physical activity, you may need to change from one medicine to another or to adjust the amount you take.

Physical activity and low blood sugar

Sometimes exercise can cause low blood sugar, also called hypoglycemia. It is a good idea to bring a snack or glucose tablets in case your blood sugar gets too low while being active.

Speak to your health care provider about testing your blood sugar to see how the physical activity affected your levels. As always, speak to your health care provider if you’re concerned about low blood sugar.

Learn about the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia at Cornerstones4Care.com.

Consider working with a diabetes educator

If you need additional support, certified diabetes educators (CDEs) can help you learn the ways of a diabetes-friendly lifestyle.

These educators can be nurses, dieticians, pharmacists, social workers, or other health care providers. They can help you plan ways to fit your diabetes care into your life.

To locate a diabetes educator near you, visit the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) website and use their Find a Diabetes Educator tool.


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