Diabetes is not something that goes away overnight; it is a chronic illness that you must learn to live with and adjust to daily. That often means making serious, everyday changes to diet and exercise. However, rather than get discouraged or panic about what’s to come, realize that lifestyle changes can be tackled in small steps. You’re not going to be a marathon runner tomorrow – and no one expects you to be – but you can begin to go out on daily walks. You’re not expected to go 100 percent vegan, or give up all gluten, but you should begin paying attention to what goes into the food you eat.
Don’t be dismayed – being healthy isn’t all about counting calories and becoming a “gym rat.” Rather, it’s about holistic wellness. There are several things you can keep in mind as you dive into a new year of improved health.
- Know what you’re eating: Altering the way you eat can be very difficult, especially if you’re used to relying on ready-made meals and takeout lunches. But learning your way around the kitchen, even if it’s just simple soups, salads and light dinners, can help improve your health. When you cook at home, you can be aware of what goes into your food and ensure it’s healthy and natural.
- Everything in moderation: If you’ve received a diabetes diagnosis, you may believe that you now have to remove all sweets and temptations from your diet. While you do need to avoid refined sugars and flours, it’s ok to have diabetes-friendly desserts every once in a while. Remember, food is a necessity for everyone, and there is no reason to treat it as an enemy. Learn to eat well and you’ll see just how positive food can be.
- Try to stay stress-free: Some scientists believe that stress can negatively impact your body’s glucose levels. Stress can also cause people to lose sleep and gain weight; it is extremely detrimental to a person’s overall wellness. While it’s easier said than done, if you want to reduce the stress in your life, try finding a relaxing hobby or practicing meditation. Exercise is also a great way to de-stress, whether you’re going for a stroll in the park or taking a beginner’s yoga class.
- Always be aware of your blood glucose levels: It’s important to properly manage your diabetes and monitor your body’s blood sugar levels. While constantly pricking your finger after every meal may sound tedious and even painful, it is necessary to be aware of how certain foods affect your blood sugar levels. If you’re looking for an alternative to traditional finger tests and readers, you may want to consider a continuous glucose monitoring system. A small reader stick is inserted just beneath the skin and tracks the rises and drops in your body’s blood sugar, alerting you via a separate digital device.
Mental and physical wellness are both important. Rather than focusing on numbers on scales, work with your doctor to find a healthy living plan that fits your needs and wants.