Sherri Shepherd's 40 Pound Weight-Loss, Pt 1 (4:50)
By Lori Zanini, RD
Receiving a diabetes diagnosis can be both difficult and surprising. However, type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that can be self-managed successfully. This means that there are many factors in your control that you can improve upon daily in order to help lower your blood sugar and prevent complications from diabetes. With a few simple changes, you can start to see improvements in your blood sugar right away. Try these four easy strategies that will make an immediate difference.
1. Hydrate Properly
One of the first changes to make is to look at what you are drinking throughout the day. When you are properly hydrated, your blood is well-diluted and your blood sugar levels decrease. Reducing, and ideally eliminating sugar-sweetened beverages can make an instant improvement in your blood sugar. This includes avoiding sodas, fruit juices, and sports drinks and taking a close look at what you put in your coffee. Try to replace your sweetened beverages with healthier options. While water is always the number-one choice, you can also switch to flavored seltzer water; unsweetened almond milk; low-sodium, broth-based vegetable soups; herbal teas; and hydrating vegetables that contain more than 90 percent water such as cucumbers, radishes, green bell peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes.
2. Make a Move
There’s no need to run a marathon or hit the gym every day of the week. Slight improvements in your daily movement can start to improve blood sugar right away. Start with small, realistic changes, like taking 10- to 15- minute walks after one or two meals each day. This will help prevent a spike in your postprandial (postmeal) blood sugar. Physical activity helps open up red blood cells to convert sugar into energy, instead of allowing it to accumulate in the bloodstream.
3. Retrain Your Palate
Research has shown that taste buds regenerate approximately every 10 days, so lowering added sugar in your diet for this amount of time, can help reduce cravings and help you become more aware of what is in the foods you eat. This can help you control the flavors in your diet. Start looking at the sources of sugar in your diet and begin to gradually cut back. After two weeks, your sensitivity to sweetness will be heightened and you will be better able to regulate your sugar intake.
4. Ask Questions
The key to making health improvements is to know where you are beginning. Ask your health-care team questions to gain a clear understanding of your type 2 diabetes situation. Learn the answers to questions such as:
- How was I diagnosed?
- What is my goal blood sugar range?
- Why was I prescribed this medication?
- What do I need to know about how food affects my blood sugar?
Your physician, certified diabetes educator, and registered dietitian/nutritionist will be able to give you more information and context around these questions so you’ll be empowered to make the best choices on a daily basis.
Lori Zanini is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator based in Los Angeles. She owns Lori Zanini Nutrition, a consulting firm that provides nutrition communications services to individuals, brands, and media outlets. She is a national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, where she works with national media to convey science-backed, nutrition messages to the public. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, A Diabetes Cookbook, which will be released later this year.