Get­ting Fit With Di­a­betes

Fol­low these strate­gies to achieve a healthy weight while keep­ing your blood sugar in check

Reader's Digest (Canada) - - Contents - BY JILL BUCH­NER

Fol­low these strate­gies to achieve a healthy weight while keep­ing your blood sugar in check. JILL BUCH­NER

LOS­ING EX­CESS WEIGHT can im­prove your heart health and of­fer other ben­e­fits for your body, but if you have di­a­betes, there are some im­por­tant points to keep in mind.

FO­CUS ON HABITS, NOT NUM­BERS ON A SCALE. Maria Ricu­pero, a reg­is­tered di­eti­tian and cer­ti­fied di­a­betes ed­u­ca­tor who works at Toronto Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal, says los­ing weight isn’t nearly as im­por­tant as the pos­i­tive im­pacts of chang­ing your be­hav­iour. Even with­out weight loss, healthy eat­ing and ex­er­cise can im­prove blood sugar, choles­terol, blood pres­sure, sleep pat­terns and en­ergy lev­els.

DON’T SKIP MEALS. When you’re try­ing to cut calo­ries, it can be tempt­ing to forgo meals or re­place them with juices. But eat­ing whole foods at least ev­ery four to five hours is im­por­tant for keep­ing your blood sugar sta­ble, says Ricu­pero. She

adds that juices are usu­ally de­void of fi­bre and can there­fore cause your blood sugar to rise quickly. A di­eti­tian can help you safely re­duce your daily calo­rie in­take and make health­ier choices.

MAIN­TAIN A BAL­ANCED DIET. Cut­ting carbs might seem like the per­fect so­lu­tion for low­er­ing blood sugar and los­ing weight, but it could cause ad­di­tional health prob­lems. “If peo­ple are just eat­ing pro­tein and fats, they may see an im­prove­ment in their blood sugar, but they may also raise their choles­terol,” says Kathy Dmytruk, a reg­is­tered di­eti­tian and cer­ti­fied di­a­betes ed­u­ca­tor in Ed­mon­ton. She ex­plains that fi­bre—which is plen­ti­ful in healthy carb sources such as whole grains—low­ers choles­terol, which is vi­tal to heart health.

ADD PHYS­I­CAL AC­TIV­ITY TO

YOUR DAY. If you don’t ex­er­cise al­ready, Ricu­pero says you should make time for it. “It doesn’t have to look fancy or be ex­pen­sive,” she says, and sug­gests walk­ing as a great way to be­gin. “What­ever it is, start grad­u­ally and go from there.” Though 30 min­utes of ex­er­cise ev­ery day is the gen­eral rec­om­men­da­tion, you can kick off with 15 min­utes, then add five more each week. And check your blood sugar af­ter a work­out— Ricu­pero says you’ll be mo­ti­vated when you see the im­me­di­ate ben­e­fit of those num­bers drop­ping.

AD­JUST YOUR DOSAGE WHEN NEC­ES­SARY. If you’re on med­i­ca­tion that causes your pan­creas to se­crete in­sulin, Dmytruk says it’s im­por­tant to talk to your doc­tor when you change your di­etary habits. If you’re eat­ing less, you may need less in­sulin or oral meds. When some peo­ple don’t ad­just their in­sulin to the amount of carbs they’re con­sum­ing, they eat more to sta­bi­lize their lev­els—a prac­tice Dmytruk calls “feed­ing your in­sulin”—which can lead to weight gain. You should be match­ing your meds to your food in­take, not the other way around.

GET PLENTY OF SLEEP. When it comes to main­tain­ing a healthy weight, shut-eye is im­por­tant: it helps reg­u­late your hunger hor­mones and gives you the en­ergy nec­es­sary for ex­er­cise. But se­cur­ing a good night’s rest can be chal­leng­ing for peo­ple with di­a­betes, who are prone to sleep ap­nea. “Peo­ple with sleep ap­nea stop breath­ing dur­ing their sleep, lead­ing to a lack of oxy­gen, so they’re kind of chok­ing,” says Ricu­pero. “That causes stress hor­mones to be re­leased, raising blood sugar.” If you snore or no­tice you’re overly tired dur­ing the day, talk to your doc­tor about re­quest­ing a sleep study.

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