7 tips for living well with diabetes
Life with diabetes should be full and satisfying. Try these surprising tips for controlling blood sugar and weight, and making healthy lifestyle choices
1. Quench a craving
High blood sugar can suppress your sense of thirst, fooling you into thinking you’re hungry when all you really need is a drink. The next time you get a between-meal craving, have a glass of water and wait 20 minutes. If the urge to eat doesn’t subside, you’re legitimately hungry. Have a few apple slices dipped in peanut butter or some other healthful snack.
Tip: Sip a fruity black tea, either hot or iced. Besides hydrating you, there’s some evidence that black tea aids in controlling blood sugar.
2. The 3-gram plan
One of the easiest ways to control weight and blood sugar is to get the recommended 25 to 35 grams of daily fibre. Trouble is, most diabetics eat less than half that. Fortunately, this is the season of change. Farmers’ markets are loaded with fibre all-stars such as acorn squash (9 grams per cup), pears (5 grams apiece), Macintosh apples (4 grams each), and spinach (3 grams per ½ cup). If you add just 3 additional grams of fibre to every meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks) you’ll double your fibre intake for the day and be right on target.
Tip: For something new, look for jicama in the supermarket produce section. One cup delivers 6 grams of fibre and plenty of crunch. Add cubes to salads or snack on sticks.
3. Bet on success
Wagering on weight loss could help you hit the jackpot. In one study, people who had money riding on their weight-loss attempt were five times more likely to lose 16 pounds (7 kilograms) in 16 weeks than non-betting dieters. Challenge a friend or family member, or bet against yourself at fatbet.net or stickK.com.
Tip: Organize a weight-loss competition at work. Everyone chips in for a gift card, which goes to the winner.
4. Pep up your workout
Studies show that the aroma and taste of peppermint can boost energy and make exercise feel easier. Put a dab of peppermint essential oil on the towel you use to wipe your forehead, or put some into a diffuser before you pop in an exercise DVD.
Tip: Fill your water bottle with unsweetened peppermint iced tea and take a sip during a workout. Researchers say it increases alertness and even improves endurance.
5. Ditch the itch
Dry skin is a common, pesky side effect of diabetes, and it gets worse as we spend more time indoors in cold weather. The condition stems from high blood sugar, which reduces body fluid levels, and nerve damage, which decreases sweating. Besides staying well hydrated, try showering less. You heard us. Instead of every day, try every other. Trust us, no one will notice.
Tip: If you’re moisturizing, keep the creams away from your groin, underarms and between your toes, where it can prompt fungal infections.
6. No flu for you
If you have diabetes, your risk of developing serious complications if you catch the flu is six times higher than that of someone who doesn’t. But did you know you should schedule your shot as soon as the vaccine is available in the fall rather than waiting until winter? It takes about two weeks for your body to build up the antibodies that fight viral invaders.
Tip: Ask family members to get flu shots, too. Protecting them lowers your risk for picking up a “bug” at home.
7. Japanese secret
Two tools you have in your kitchen right now can make weight loss easier: a grater and a sharp knife. In one Japanese study, grating up carrots and slicing fish into slivers tricked dieters into thinking they were eating more because the food looked bigger on the plate. Try dicing potatoes instead of serving them whole, slicing meat into long strips, and grating apples over your salad.
Tip: Serve your food on a small plate, so it looks even bigger.