Lifestyle Changes to Manage Type 2 Diabetes
by Karen Schroeder Kassel, MS, RD, MEd
Diet, healthy weight and regular activity are important parts of treatment plan. For some, this may be enough to eliminate the need for medicine. Healthy habits can also help everyone decrease the risk of complications.
Weight loss can make the body more responsive to insulin. This will lead to better blood glucose control. Losing just 5% to 10% of body weight can make a difference in your blood glucose control for people who are overweight.
Safe weight loss can be done by eating fewer calories, choosing healthy food, and regular exercise.
A balanced diet will help to manage blood glucose, reduce weight, and lower risk of complications. A registered dietitian can help to make meals plans and food choices. Basic eating guidelines for people with type 2 diabetes are:
Planning Meals and Snacks
Blood glucose rises and falls with eating patterns. Eating similar meals and at similar times each day will help keep blood glucose stable. Most diabetes plans are based on 3 meals per day and 2 to 3 snacks. Each meal should be at about the same time each day. Meals should also have about the same amount of carbohydrate, protein, and fat as the same meal the day before.
Filling Your Plate
US Department of Agriculture’s guidelines encourage:
American Diabetes Association (ADA) tips for a healthy plate include:
Focusing on Carbohydrates
Sugar and starch are both carbohydrates. The body reacts to any type of carbohydrate in the same way. The total amount of carbohydrate you eat is more important for blood glucose control.
A dietitian can help to set carbohydrate goals. This amount should be spread evenly throughout meals and snacks. Foods and drinks that are high in sugar should be limited or avoided.
The ADA recommends exercising for at least 150 minutes a week. This should be moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. Examples include brisk walking, riding a bicycle, playing tennis, or doing water aerobics. Strength training should also be done at least twice a week. Examples of strength training include using free weights, weight machines, or resistance bands.
Exercise usually causes a drop in blood glucose. Medication dose and schedule may need to be changed as regular exercise increases.
When to Contact Your Doctor
Contact your doctor if you:
Create your plate. American Diabetes Association website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed August 22, 2020.
Diabetes mellitus type 2 in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Accessed August 22, 2020.
What is MyPlate? Choose My Plate—Department of Agriculture website. Available at: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate. Accessed August 22, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Monica Zangwill, MD, MPH
Last Updated: 9/25/2020
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