Lifestyle Change vs. Diet

I’m sure you’ve heard both terms being thrown around a lot, but do you know the difference?

Diet has two definitions:
1. the kinds of food that a person habitually eats.
2. a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.

Which one do you hear more of? I’m forever hearing on the tv about commercials of miracle diets for weight loss. Diets don’t work. Why? Because diets are meant to be temporary. A diet consists of temporarily changing your eating habits to promote a certain outcome, like weight loss, before returning to your previous eating habits.

Now lifestyle changes are where it’s at. A lifestyle change consists of adopting healthy overall habits that promote long-term weight control and health. A diet focuses on food intake whereas lifestyle changes your diet with other factors that affect your weight and health, like exercise. In other words, a diet is a temporary solution and lifestyle changes are healthy habits for life.

What kind of lifestyle changes can diabetics make?

  • At least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day, like brisk walking, water aerobics, hiking, or using a manual lawn mower.
  • Cut back on sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Eat more fruits and veggies.
  • Get rid of junk food and snack on more nutritious foods.
  • Replace refined carbohydrates with wholegrain foods.
  • Reduce amount of saturated fats.
  • Choose lean meats over processed meats.
  • Apply stress management techniques in your life.

Did you know that stress can really mess your body up? Stress hormones can increase blood pressure, slow down your digestion, and can make blood glucose control difficult. Reducing stress can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, depression, and anxiety.

In my opinion, I never use the word “diet” unless describing something like diabetes diet, even then I don’t mention it often. Why? Because “diet” is a dirty word. I’m not looking for a temporary change, I’m looking to change my life. Your intentions are everything. If you only intend to diet, you are only looking for temporary. Speak it into existence and tell the Universe you are changing your life for the better.

Do you want to know more about a diabetes diet though? Here’s what I have found for you and for myself.

Healthy Carbohydrates:
– fruits
– veggies
– whole grains
– legumes
– low-fat dairy products
Fiber-rich Foods:
– veggies
– fruits
– nuts
– legumes
– whole grains
Heart Healthy Fish:
– salmon
– tuna
– mackerel
– sardines
Good Fats:
– avocados
– nuts
– canola, olive, and peanut oils

When you’re looking for things to eat, remember to avoid these foods:

  • fried fish and fish with high levels of mercury
  • high-fat dairy products
  • coconut oil
  • processed foods high in trans fats
  • high-fat animal proteins

You should aim for no more than 200mg of Cholesterol and less than 2300mg of sodium per day.

Diabetes management is a lifestyle change. We have to create new, healthier habits for our lives to better manage our diabetes. We can do this! Change your life for the better and not for the temporary.


References

Healthy Eating
Diabetes UK
Mayo Clinic


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How Exercise and Diabetes are Connected

Exercise is very important for those who have diabetes. By being active, you can reduce long-term health risks, improve insulin sensitivity, and enhance mood and overall quality of life. Most of the time, working out causes blood glucose to drop, but some exercises can cause glucose levels to rise.

Using your muscles helps burn glucose and improves the way insulin works. Some workouts like weight lifting, sprints, and competitive sports can release stress hormones like adrenaline. Those hormones can stimulate the liver to release glucose.

The food you eat before or during workout can also contribute to your glucose levels. If you eat too many carbs before exercising could cause your glucose levels to stay high regardless of exercise.

Here are some exercise tips:

  1. Choose moderate-intensity aerobic workouts or circuit weight training with light weights and high reps.
  2. Practice relaxation techniques like meditation before and during exercise to minimize adrenaline effect.
  3. Consider doing your workout later in the day than in the morning. Some people experience high levels of glucose in the morning naturally.
  4. If you are taking rapid-acting insulin or short-acting diabetes medications, consult your doctor about adjusting it prior to working out if they produce a glucose rise.
  5. Avoid consuming excessive amounts of carbs before and during exercise. Try some yogurt with nuts or peanut butter.

Keeping a workout log and checking your glucose before, during, and after each workout you try can help you see which exercise works best for you and what pre-workout foods affect your glucose.

If I had known what I know now back in 2010, I wonder if I could have helped my dad and support him in his diabetes. I never knew about diet and exercise when you had diabetes. I thought it was just take your meds and avoid sugar. It’s not that simple and it’s so difficult to do it alone.

I will release another post about which exercises would work best for diabetics and bonus, they can be done with others. You don’t have to go it alone.


References

Diabetes Forecast July/August 2019, p. 12