Eating well and staying physically active are key components to any healthy lifestyle. However, if you or a loved one are living with type 2 diabetes, diet and exercise are vital to your health and well-being. With a proper diet and exercise routine, combined with medication management, you can take control of your diabetes – rather than diabetes controlling you.
Elaine Austin, Executive Director at Provident Village at Creekside in Smyrna, GA, has witnessed firsthand the success of diabetes management through healthy living habits. “At Provident Village, our care plans are highly individualized for each resident’s health needs. We help those with diabetes control their condition by designing personalized fitness programs to help them stay active, and we help them obtain a healthy, balanced diet though nutritious choices for every meal.
“When our diabetic residents eat well and exercise regularly, we see a remarkable difference in their overall health. In turn, they enjoy life more, no longer having to worry about getting their diabetes under control.”
Considerations for Your Menu
A common myth about diabetes is that you have to eat a special diet, void of all the foods you love. In reality however, those with diabetes don’t have to give up their favorites dishes all together. The key to successful diabetic meals is balance. According to the article “Diabetes Diet and Food Tips,” by Maya W. Paul, Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Lawrence Robinson and Melinda Smith, M.A., “A diabetes diet is simply a healthy eating plan that is high in nutrients, low in fat and added sugar, and moderate in calories. It is a healthy diet for anyone! The only difference is that you need to pay more attention to some of your food choices — most notably the carbohydrates you eat.”
Although carbs, fats and sugar are commonly deemed “bad” by diet trends, your body actually needs these types of foods to stay well. If you’re careful about your food choices and practice moderation, it is possible to enjoy a balanced diet and keep your diabetes in check.
Let’s take a closer look at carbs, fats and sugar:
- Carbohydrates – While carbs have a big impact on blood sugar, you don’t have to avoid them. Experts encourage the consumption of high-fiber complex carbs, rather than the highly refined carbs found in white bread and rice, soda and packaged foods. Carbs that are high in fiber are known as slow-release carbs because your body digests them more slowly, thus keeping your blood sugar level down and preventing the production of too much insulin. Slow-release carbs also help you stay full longer and provide long-lasting energy.
To add more slow-release carbs to your diet, try switching out white rice and pasta for brown rice and whole-wheat pasta. Trade white potatoes for sweet potatoes or yams, white bread for whole-grain, corn for peas or leafy greens, sugary cereals for low-sugar bran flakes.
- Fats – Just as with carbs, there are good fats and bad fats. When you’re trying to control your diabetes, it’s important to avoid unhealthy trans fats (also called partially hydrogenated oils). These are man-made oils that help keep food from spoiling, but our bodies don’t know how to process them and end up storing them as fat.
The best type of fats to reach for is the unsaturated fat found in nuts, olive oil and avocados. Omega-3 fatty acids are especially good for brain and heart health, as they fight inflammation. Good sources include salmon, tuna and flaxseeds. Healthy fats help to slow down digestion and keep blood sugar from spiking.
- Sugar – It’s okay to have a sugary treat now and then if you’re conscientious about what else you eat. For example, if you plan on having dessert, cut back on carbs somewhere else in the meal to keep your balance. Cut back on sugar in your diet by avoiding sodas, juice and pre-packaged snacks. Reduce the amount of sugar you use in recipes and find alternatives for treating your sweet tooth (e.g., blend frozen bananas as a substitute for ice cream, adding healthy toppings like peanut butter, fruit or dark chocolate chips).
Stay Active to Stay in Control
Exercise is another important tool for staying in control of your diabetes. Physical activity lowers your blood sugar levels by increasing your insulin sensitivity so your cells are better able to use any insulin in your body to break down sugar during and after you exercise. Additionally, the contraction of your muscles during physical activity stimulates a mechanism that breaks down sugar and uses it for energy, regardless of insulin.
When using physical activity to control diabetes, keep these tips in mind:
- Become familiar with how your blood sugar level responds to exercise and adjust your workouts accordingly.
- Schedule your workout at the best time of day to coordinate with your meals and medications. Keep a steady routine.
- Stay hydrated and always be prepared for a drop in blood sugar by keeping a snack handy and wearing a medical ID bracelet.
- Exercise can include any physical activity, even light walking or housework. Thirty minutes of increased heart rate and breathing each day is helpful for controlling your weight and keeping your body healthy.
Living Vibrantly Day by Day
“At Provident Village at Creekside, it’s our mission to help seniors live vibrant days,” shares Austin. “For our residents working to keep their diabetes under control, that often means finding creative ways to make eating well and staying active fun and rewarding. Some of our residents keep an exercise log and plan out weekly fitness goals. Others broaden their diet horizons by trying new fruits and veggies and other healthy options we have available.
“Whatever our residents need to stay physically and emotionally well, our remarkable team will find a way to make it happen! We believe that vibrant living today leads to bright futures full of vitality and well-being.”
Live Vibrantly! at Provident Village at Creekside
At Provident Village at Creekside, we believe vibrant days ensure bright tomorrows, so we’ve created a community where seniors, quite simply, Live Vibrantly! Whether it’s in our Assisted Living Community or Memory Care Neighborhood, each day we celebrate the individuality and strengths of each resident.
At Provident Village, to Live Vibrantly! means that days are filled with joy, vitality, growth and security. It means residents are socially active and personally empowered, with access to the personalized care and support they need to live fully. It means residing in a community where intellectual, social, emotional, spiritual and physical care are seamlessly integrated into everyday life.
Our compassionate Care Partners dedicate each day to enriching the lives of our residents. They customize the level of attention and activities to each resident’s specific needs and abilities. Our living environments are warm and inviting, with comfortable furnishings, beautiful fixtures and natural elements that bring the outdoors inside.