- 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.
Serving size shown is based 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
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.
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
Check in before you startIn 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 sugarSometimes 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 doctor about testing your blood sugar level to see how the physical activity affected your levels. As always, speak to your doctor if you’re concerned about low blood sugar.