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By eating healthier, being more physically active, and losing weight, you can reduce your symptoms or even reverse diabetes. The bottom line is that you have more control over your health than you may think.
Being overweight or obese is the biggest risk factor for type 2 diabetes. However, your risk is higher if you tend to carry your weight around your abdomen as opposed to your hips and thighs.
A lot of belly fat surrounds the abdominal organs and liver and is closely linked to insulin resistance. You are at an increased risk of developing diabetes if you are:. Calories obtained from fructose found in sugary beverages such as soda, energy and sports drinks, coffee drinks, and processed foods like doughnuts, muffins, cereal, candy and granola bars are more likely to add weight around your abdomen.
Cutting back on sugary foods can mean a slimmer waistline as well as a lower risk of diabetes. The first step to making smarter choices is to separate the myths from the facts about eating to prevent or control diabetes. You can enjoy your favorite treats as long as you plan properly and limit hidden sugars. The type of carbohydrates you eat as well as serving size is key. Expensive diabetic foods generally offer no special benefit. Studies have shown that eating too much protein, especially animal protein, may actually cause insulin resistance, a key factor in diabetes.
A healthy diet includes protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Our bodies need all three to function properly. The key is a balanced diet. As with any healthy eating program, a diabetic diet is more about your overall dietary pattern rather than obsessing over specific foods.
Aim to eat more natural, unprocessed food and less packaged and convenience foods. Carbohydrates have a big impact on your blood sugar levels—more so than fats and proteins—so you need to be smart about what types of carbs you eat. Limit refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, and rice, as well as soda, candy, packaged meals, and snack foods.
Focus on high-fiber complex carbohydrates—also known as slow-release carbs. They are digested more slowly, thus preventing your body from producing too much insulin. High glycemic index GI foods spike your blood sugar rapidly, while low GI foods have the least effect on blood sugar. While the GI has long been promoted as a tool to help manage blood sugar, there are some notable drawbacks. If you have diabetes, you can still enjoy a small serving of your favorite dessert now and then.
The key is moderation. Reduce your cravings for sweets by slowly reduce the sugar in your diet a little at a time to give your taste buds time to adjust. Hold the bread or rice or pasta if you want dessert. Eating sweets at a meal adds extra carbohydrates so cut back on the other carb-heavy foods at the same meal. Add some healthy fat to your dessert. Think healthy fats, such as peanut butter, ricotta cheese, yogurt, or nuts.
Eat sweets with a meal, rather than as a stand-alone snack. When eaten on their own, sweets cause your blood sugar to spike. When you eat dessert, truly savor each bite. How many times have you mindlessly eaten your way through a bag of cookies or a huge piece of cake? Can you really say that you enjoyed each bite? Make your indulgence count by eating slowly and paying attention to the flavors and textures.
Reduce soft drinks, soda and juice. For each 12 oz. Try sparkling water with a twist of lemon or lime instead. Cut down on creamers and sweeteners you add to tea and coffee.
Buy unsweetened iced tea, plain yogurt, or unflavored oatmeal, for example, and add sweetener or fruit yourself. Check labels and opt for low sugar products and use fresh or frozen ingredients instead of canned goods. Be especially aware of the sugar content of cereals and sugary drinks. Avoid processed or packaged foods like canned soups, frozen dinners, or low-fat meals that often contain hidden sugar. Prepare more meals at home. You can boost sweetness with mint, cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla extract instead of sugar.
Refined Carbs and Sugar: Find healthy ways to satisfy your sweet tooth. Instead of ice cream, blend up frozen bananas for a creamy, frozen treat. Or enjoy a small chunk of dark chocolate, rather than a milk chocolate bar. Start with half of the dessert you normally eat, and replace the other half with fruit.
And cocktails mixed with soda and juice can be loaded with sugar. Choose calorie-free mixers, drink only with food, and monitor your blood glucose as alcohol can interfere with diabetes medication and insulin. Being smart about sweets is only part of the battle. Sugar is also hidden in many packaged foods, fast food meals, and grocery store staples such as bread, cereals, canned goods, pasta sauce, margarine, instant mashed potatoes, frozen dinners, low-fat meals, and ketchup. The first step is to spot hidden sugar on food labels, which can take some sleuthing:.
Manufacturers are required to provide the total amount of sugar in a serving but do not have to spell out how much of this sugar has been added and how much is naturally in the food. The trick is deciphering which ingredients are added sugars. Aside from the obvious ones— sugar, honey, molasses —added sugar can appear as agave nectar, cane crystals, corn sweetener, crystalline fructose, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, malt syrup , and more.
A wise approach is to avoid products that have any of these added sugars at or near the top of the list of ingredients—or ones that have several different types of sugar scattered throughout the list. The trick is that each sweetener is listed separately. Structured physical activity is also important. Walking, yoga , lifting weights, biking, running, and swimming - could all be a morning exercise choice.
Here's an estimate of the average calorie-burn potential from 30 minutes of exercise:. Moderate Exercise Walking 3. One recent study noted that yoga - a popular morning activity - can help prevent the dreaded middle-age spread and even help shed unwanted pounds. Researchers looked at normal and overweight men and women who practiced yoga regularly at least one session of 30 minutes or more per week for four years or more. It compared their weight with the weight of people who didn't do yoga.
Normal-weight people who practiced yoga gained less than those who didn't practice yoga. Overweight people who practiced yoga lost an average of 5 pounds; those who didn't practice gained about 14 pounds. Yoga's effect may have more to do with body awareness than the actual calories burned during the average session, researchers say. During yoga practice, you are more aware of your body - which can prompt you to quit eating when you're full.
If you're really trying to lose weight and keep it off, work toward a goal of 60 to 90 minutes of exercise most days of the week. But that's a lot to ask someone who's just starting out, says Thompson.
If that's you, try it in minute chunks of time at first -- several times a day, several days a week. Talk to a doctor first. If you are overweight and if you have risk factors for heart disease - high blood pressure , high cholesterol , or family history of heart disease - get your doctor's OK before starting an exercise program , Thompson says.
Set short-term goals - 10 minutes, 15 minutes, etc. Gradually increase the number of days. Walking a dog is great because it gets you out for 20 minutes in the morning, and then 20 more at night. You have to start with lifestyle changes and increase from there. Consider a health club.
They always keep people's interest piqued on exercise. And if you're paying for it, you're likely to go. Buy or rent workout tapes or DVDs. If you prefer a quiet start to the day, try tapes and DVDs that feature yoga, weight training, and aerobic workout programs. Be sure to check who created them, however. The good ones have an exercise physiologist as an advisor. If you make exercise part of your everyday lifestyle, stick with it on weekends, too.
Keep treating it as an appointment. Don't let anything interfere. This is something good that you're doing for yourself.