Lifestyle changes to manage diabetes

Posted By Dr. Ibrahim Okich on February 21, 2023

Diabetes management

Diabetics need to be physically active. But, it's important to know how much exercise will benefit you, and how long this type of activity should last.

First and foremost, if you're overweight, losing weight is crucial.

Diabetics who are obese are more likely to develop complications than those who have normal weight levels and blood sugar issues.

If you already have diabetes or pre-diabetes, then learning all the risks associated with these conditions is crucial.

The first step in managing your condition involves understanding what lifestyle changes can help manage your condition better.  


You may have heard that exercise is good for diabetics.

It's true! Exercise can lower blood sugar and cholesterol, help with weight loss, reduce stress levels and improve sleep quality.

If you're looking to improve your own health or someone in your life's wellbeing, it's important to start an exercise routine now.  

Eat healthy

Eating a healthy diet is one of the most important things you can do to manage diabetes. A healthy diet includes:

  • A balanced mix of foods, including fruits and vegetables as well as protein (meat, fish, poultry), whole grains and low-fat dairy products.
  • Avoiding sugary snacks or drinks like soft drinks or fruit juice; these are high in sugar and will not help you control your blood sugar levels.
  • Avoiding processed foods that contain added salt or fat; they have no nutritional value so they're just empty calories that don't benefit your body in any way!


Lose weight if you're overweight

Losing weight is a key component of managing diabetes.

If you're overweight, your body may be at risk for more serious complications such as heart disease, stroke and blindness.

Diabetes can also affect your brain—and not just the memory or judgment parts!

A study found that people with Type 2 diabetes had lower volumes in certain parts of their brains compared to those without the condition.

The hippocampus is involved in memory formation; researchers think that it may be damaged by overuse associated with high blood sugar levels.

In addition to reducing risk factors like obesity and high blood pressure, dietary changes could help improve cognitive function: reduced glycemic load (GL), increased fiber intake and increased physical activity all seem to support improved brain health for those with type 2 diabetes.  

Take your medicine as prescribed

Taking your diabetes medication as prescribed is the best way to manage it.

This means taking it at the right time, with or without food and in the right amount.

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, talk to your doctor about how to manage the disease and prevent complications such as heart disease and kidney disease.  

Check your blood sugar
  • Check your blood sugar before eating.
  • Check your blood sugar after eating.
  • If you feel sick, check your blood sugar.
  • If you feel funny, check your blood sugar.
  • If you are tired and hungry at the same time, check your blood sugar (you don’t want to be hungry with low energy).


Manage stress

Stress is a common cause of diabetes and heart disease, but it can also affect your blood sugar.

The hormone cortisol releases during stressful times causes insulin resistance in your body and increases insulin secretion.

High cortisol levels may lead to:

  • Excess weight gain
  • Blood pressure spikes
  • High triglycerides (blood fats)
  • Increased blood sugar levels
  • Decreased HDL cholesterol (the “good” kind)
  • Elevated C-reactive protein levels

All of which are linked with higher risks for heart disease, stroke, cancer and premature death.

Managing stress will help you manage your diabetes better:

  • Reduce stress by practicing mindfulness exercises that focus on breathing
  • Eat foods high in nutrients such as antioxidants found within fruits & vegetables such as blueberries


Stop smoking

Smoking is a risk factor for diabetes and it increases insulin resistance, which can lead to complications.

Smoking also reduces the effectiveness of medication and increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

The good news is that quitting smoking can help manage your diabetes symptoms, reduce your risk of heart disease & stroke and improve other health conditions such as high blood pressure or cholesterol levels  

Watch what you drink

Alcohol can raise blood sugar levels, which can cause complications with diabetes.

If you are having trouble controlling your appetite and eating meals throughout the day instead of just snacks between meals, consider trying an app that tracks calories and gives suggestions for healthy meal options based on your current activity level (if any).

There are many different apps available—search online for “food diary” and choose one that suits your needs.

Alcohol has also been shown to make people fatigued in general.

This effect is even stronger among those who have diabetes because they have lower levels of insulin production during this time period—and therefore less energy overall!

This lack of physical energy can lead directly into increased levels of weight gain as well as high blood pressure due to fluid retention within muscles.

This causes swelling around joints causing pain when moving around, pain relief medication may be necessary depending upon how severe these symptoms become  

Watch when you eat

Eat slowly. Eating quickly can lead to overeating, and it's important that you eat a healthy diet.

Try to make each meal last at least 20 minutes so that you don't feel rushed while eating.

Don't eat in front of the TV or computer screen—these temptations are hard to resist!

If possible, try not to watch TV or play video games right before dinner.

Avoid eating late at night because your blood sugar levels tend to rise after dark as well as when we're tired and less attentive than usual (which can lead us toward unhealthy choices).  

Keep track of diet and blood sugars

Use a food diary to track what you eat.

You can use an app or paper notebook to keep track of your meals and snacks in the morning until bedtime at night.

Use an app that monitors and provides information on blood sugar levels.

There is an easier and simpler way of doing this at Afyabook, under your profile click on Afya Tab and start recording your test readings.

Additionally, they offer graphs displaying patterns over time that can be used to spot patterns in your blood sugar levels.


If you're in your 20s, 30s or 40s, it's not too late to make changes to your diet and lifestyle.

You can start today so that you can be healthier tomorrow!

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