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Lifestyle Overview for Diabetes Management

Making smart food choices and keeping active are important to maintaining your health today and in the future. If you have diabetes or are "at risk" for diabetes, it's important to meet with your physician and a Registered Dietitian (RD) or Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) to help build a healthy meal and physical activity plan into your lifestyle.

There are four things that can help you control blood sugar levels.

  1. Eat a healthy, well balanced diet.
  2. Get regular physical activity.
  3. Test your blood sugar.
  4. Take your diabetes medication (if applicable).

Building a Healthy Diet

Good nutrition basics for people with diabetes apply to everyone, so practicing the tips below can benefit you and your family too.

  • Make sure your meals have variety and include vegetables & fruit, meat & alternatives and whole grain breads, cereals & crackers. Choose lean meats, fish, poultry, beans, lentils and low fat dairy foods to round out your daily food choices.
  • Try to eat the same amount of food at the same time each day and choose sensible portions. Avoid overeating and skipping meals.
  • If you're on the go, try packing something portable and portion controlled.

Aim for Fitness

Health Canada recommends making 30-60 minutes of moderate physical activity part of your daily routine. Visit the Physical Activity Guide at http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/pau-uap/paguide/index.html.

  • Brisk walking, biking, raking leaves, swimming, dancing and water aerobics all count towards your daily goal. Pick an activity you enjoy and stick with it.
  • Aim for a healthy weight. Losing even 10-15 pounds (4-7 kg) can help you manage your diabetes and improve your health. Use the Body Mass Index calculator to find out your healthy weight range.
  • Be sure to check with your physician before you begin an exercise program because you may need to change your meal plan or medication.

Testing and Controlling Your Blood Sugar

Be sure to work with your healthcare team to determine an appropriate blood sugar testing routine.

  • Regularly testing your blood glucose helps to provide a picture of how your body is responding to your diet, exercise and medications. You may find it helpful to record your blood glucose test results in a logbook.
  • If you are on insulin or medications, be consistent. Take them regularly at the same times each day and do not skip them. Remember to take them with you when eating out too.
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