Type 2 diabetes affects how the body metabolizes glucose. When the body can’t use the insulin that is released (or doesn’t make enough insulin), sugar builds up in the blood. About 27 million people in the U.S. live with type 2 diabetes. Mostly adults are affected by type 2 diabetes but children are not immune.
There is no cure for type 2 diabetes. The most common ways of treatment are through physical activity and meal planning, but depending on the severity, it may require the use of medications and/or insulin. Treatment keeps blood sugar levels closer to normal.
Although there’s no such thing as a “diabetes diet,” it’s important to center your diet on high-fiber, low-fat foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains. It’s also a good idea to eat fewer animal products, refined carbohydrates, and sweets.
Some people try to eat low glycemic index foods. Foods with a high glycemic index raise blood sugar quickly while low glycemic index foods help maintain a more stable blood sugar. Usually, the higher a food is in fiber, the lower it’s glycemic index is.
If you have questions about dietary needs for type 2 diabetes, consult with your doctor, a registered dietitian, or a nutritionist. They can give you tips on how to structure your diet and teach you how to monitor your carbohydrate intake to keep blood sugar levels stable.
People with type 2 diabetes benefit from physical activity. Aim for 30+ minutes of aerobic exercise five days a week. Consult with your doctor before starting a new fitness plan.
Try to combine aerobic exercise on most days and resistance training like weightlifting or yoga a couple of times each week. This combination will help to control your blood sugar better than if you only do one type of exercise.
Check your blood sugar before doing physical activity. Physical activity lowers blood sugar and you may need to eat a snack before exercising to prevent low blood sugar.
Medication or Insulin Therapy
Depending on the severity of your type 2 diabetes, you may need help in achieving target blood sugar levels from medication or insulin therapy.
Your doctor may recommend one or more medications to manage your blood sugar in addition to diet and exercise considerations.
Insulin must be injected—usually at night. Different kinds of insulin work in different ways. Your doctor will be able to tell you what kind of insulin is a good choice for you and how it works.
Blood Sugar Monitoring
You may need to check your blood sugar level as part of your type 2 diabetes treatment plan. Your doctor should communicate how often she wants you to check your blood sugar. Monitoring blood sugar is the only way to make sure it stays within your target range.
Blood sugar changes in response to food, exercise, alcohol, illness and medication. By monitoring your blood sugar, you’ll be better able to predict how your blood sugar will react to changes in your lifestyle.