Exercise and Diet for Diabetics
Type I and Type II diabetics both need to sustain a balanced diet and exercise regularly. Consistent exercise and a balanced diet improve blood glucose levels, which is an essential part of a diabetic's overall health.
Well-planned meals and regular exercise can also circumvent diseases diabetics are particularly susceptible to, such as cardiovascular diseases.
When forming your meal plans, consult the USDA pyramid. You probably remember it from grade school, but it's just as reliable as ever. New FDA (Food and Drug Administration) labels make it easy for diabetics to food shop. Now the labels contain the fiber content of foods. Fiber is important to a diabetic because fiber influences blood-glucose levels.
Are there sugar-free alternatives for my favorite foods?
Yes! Name a food and there's a sugar-free alternative for it. Diabetics are very fortunate that there is a now a huge sugar-free food market.
There are sugar-free candies, sodas, jams, jellies, crackers, chips, pudding, cake, etc. Big name brands have recently caught on to the sugar-free trend, so even products like SlimFast have popular breakfast bars suitable for a diabetic diet. Your local grocery store might even have a "health" or "sugar-free" section. Check it out. Products are usually clearly marked as "Sugar-free" or "Suitable for Diabetics."
Remember: if you can't find it in the store, check on-line! There are countless diabetic products on the internet.
Caution! When a product claims to be sugar-free, that does NOT mean it's free of carbohydrates, calories, fat, or sodium. "Sugar free" can mean the product is simply free from table sugar, or it could contain replacement sugar that contains carbohydrates from sugar alcohol.
What kind of diet do I need?
The simple answer is that it depends on what kind of diabetic you are. If you suffer from Type I, try to maintain a diet that has around a 30% caloric fat content. If you have Type II diabetes, stay around 20% or less.
Many diabetics find it difficult to drastically change their lifestyles. The key is to gradually ease yourself into new routines. If you lose the weight too quickly, more than likely you will gain it all back. Initially, your goal should be a pound per week. This might not seem like a lot of weight, but do the math. If you lost a pound or two per week, that adds up to anywhere from 50 to 100 pounds in a year.
Do not starve yourself! If you deprive yourself of all your favorite foods, you'll end up binging months down the line, which is very bad for your metabolism.
Severely obese people generally need to sustain a diet of 2800-3300 calories per day to maintain their body weight. Cutting as little as 500 calories from that daily plan and participating in light exercise can lead to weight loss.
Consider a Vegetarian Diet
Meat lovers usually balk at this idea, but a vegetarian diet is a surefire way to cut the fat from a diet. Meat is very high in fat, so supplementing a couple of weekly meals for vegetarian alternatives will drastically cut the fat from your diet. If you can go veggie seven days a week, even better!
Regular exercise has been proven to help the body lower its resistance to insulin, lower cholesterol, and manage stress levels. Studies have also shown that exercise not only helps diabetics maintain their overall health, but it also prevents the onset of diabetes itself. When you exercise, your muscles are highly active, and they need to use large amounts of glucose. When your muscles use glucose, blood sugar levels decrease.
In some cases, regular exercise and a well-balanced diet permit diabetics to get off their medication.
How much do I need to exercise?
The general consensus is that an individual should exercise three times during the week for 20 minutes. Before you begin any exercise regime, consult your physician. It's wise to get a full check-up before you begin your exercise routine, so your physician can check for any medical conditions you should consider before beginning your program.
No, there is no guaranteed, "magic" diet pill or rapid weight loss book that will help you achieve permanent weight loss and improved health. Wild claims and fashionable diets are fads and they do not provide long-term results. Unfortunately, some diabetics become desperate to lose weight and opt for liposuction surgery. While this procedure does have a success rate, it is a drastic solution, and can result in serious health complications including fatality.
The safest, most reliable way for diabetics to improve their health is a healthy diet and exercise.
What kind of exercise do I need?
Don't buy a complicated exercise machine that makes you miserable, and that will end up collecting dust in your basement. Choose something you love to do! If you love swimming, swim. If you love walking, walk. The key is consistency.
As a diabetic, you need to take care of your feet. Make sure you purchase a comfortable pair of shoes for your exercise, and that the bottoms are fitted with gelatin cushions to absorb impact. Diabetics are susceptible to foot neuropathy, and reduced circulations leads to messy things like infected blisters.
But I live in the city...and it's winter!
No excuses! Your health is too important to use lazy reasons for why you just "simply can't" develop an exercise program. There are indoor facilities around every corner where you can exercise for a half an hour. Consider shopping malls or a gym.
During the summer, take a walk around your neighborhood or visit your local park. There are walking clubs springing up all over the country, as well as networks of inner-city bikers who opt for biking to work instead of driving. Wherever you live, you can find a way to increase exercise in your life.
Remember, as a diabetic, you need to constantly monitor your health. Even healthy lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, need to be monitored by you and your physician. If your blood-glucose levels dramatically change (even for the better,) your medication will need to be altered, otherwise you may experience health complications. Always keep an emergency source of sugar with you, should your blood-glucose levels dramatically shift. A good source of quick sugar are energy drinks, or diet bars that you can find at any health store.
With the determination to lose the weight (and keep it off!) and the help of your physician, you can create a reasonable diet/exercise plan. Losing weight is the first step a diabetic needs to take toward managing their blood-glucose levels. This is your health! It's worth the time needed for planning and maintaining a lifestyle improvement schedule.
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