Diabetes is one of the “big four” non-communicable diseases, along with cancers, cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory diseases. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that worldwide nearly one in 10 adults live with diabetes. The WHO and its partners know that it takes a coordinated global response to tackle these major public health issues.
This World Health Day, April 7, the WHO is calling on health advocates to “Beat Diabetes” by scaling up prevention, strengthening care and enhancing surveillance of diabetes across the globe. Any doctor or nutrition expert will tell you that a healthy lifestyle is a huge component of Type 2 diabetes prevention and management. In honor of 2016 World Health Day, we’ve rounded up our top tips to help “beat diabetes” … before and after the diagnosis. (By the way, you can join the conversation April 7 by tweeting @FoodInsight or @WHO and using the hashtags #Diabetes and #BeatNCDs. You can also post comments on WHO’s website.)
Be Smart About Carbs and Calories
Take it from nutrition expert and diabetes educator Melissa Joy Dobbins, MS, RDN, CDE: “You can eat anything you want and still have good blood glucose control.” A big step toward managing your blood sugar is knowing your carbohydrate “budget” and learning how to stick to it. You can meet your daily carb needs through a variety of nutrient-rich options like fruit, dairy and whole grains. Low-calorie sweeteners are also a great substitute for added sugars, as they can help to cut calories and carbohydrates without spiking your blood sugar.
Work Your Healthy Eating Style
Whether you are managing or preventing Type 2 diabetes, developing your own healthy eating style can have big pay-off. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations show that “healthy” isn’t and shouldn’t be the same for everyone. Develop a healthy eating plan, or “style,” that meets your personal preferences, fits your lifestyle, and matches your calorie, carbohydrate and nutrient needs. Get creative with resources like MyPlate, which can help you quickly and easily plan healthy meals. If you still have trouble managing your blood glucose or sticking to a healthy eating plan, a registered dietitian nutritionist can help with the information and support you need to get back on track.
Get (and Stay) Active
Besides helping to manage your weight, physical activity can be a key part of diabetes prevention and management. According to the American Diabetes Association, physical activity can help to lower your blood sugar, strengthen your cardiovascular system and relieve stress. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that all adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. But remember, how you split up your 150 minutes is up to you. Many people like to exercise in several short burst throughout the day. For example, you could complete two brisk 15-minute walks per day, and that would be more than enough to meet the DGA’s recommendations.
Armed with the tips above, you and your family can all pitch in to help beat diabetes … one healthy lifestyle choice at a time.