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Healthy Living


Type 2 diabetes self-management

When you’re living with type 2 diabetes, it’s a daily challenge to keep your blood sugar levels in check. Setting personal goals can help you focus your efforts and try to keep yourself on track. Goals like eating healthy, staying active, and monitoring blood sugar can be important aspects of diabetes self-management. It’s also important to be realistic about your goals. Making small, manageable changes—such as adding just one healthy habit to your day—may help you stay motivated.

Women doing exercise

As with all decisions concerning your treatment of type 2 diabetes, it is important to work with your doctor to determine what is right for you.

Consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan and before starting any diet or exercise program.

Helpful tips for type 2 diabetes self-management:

  • Create a meal plan. Make a go-to guide for choosing which foods to eat and when. A successful meal plan can help you stay on target for your blood sugar numbers and weight goals. Learn more about eating healthy

  • Stay active. Regular physical activity is not only good for managing your diabetes, but also for your overall health and well-being. Learn more about diabetes and exercise

  • Check your blood glucose (blood sugar) if your doctor suggested you do so. Testing and tracking your blood sugar levels can help you see how well your diabetes plan is working. If your blood sugar levels are too high or too low, your doctor may want to change your treatment plan. Learn more about blood sugar control

  • Make it personal. Get help managing your type 2 diabetes. Find out how

Eating healthy

Eating healthy with type 2 diabetes

Create a meal plan.

Eating healthy doesn't mean you have to give up great taste, and it’s something you can even enjoy with family and friends! Why not let a meal plan be your personal food guide? It can help you make smart food choices—in the right amounts. In fact, meal planning can help you keep your blood sugar numbers and weight goals on track while still enjoying the foods you love.

Make healthy updates to classic favorites

Try swapping out certain ingredients for healthier versions, such as adding crunch to your salad with nuts rather than croutons.

Read food labels

  • Nutrition Facts food labels can help you track your daily carbohydrates. Be sure to pay attention to both the serving size and total carbohydrate amount

  • Be aware of how many calories are in a portion of that food. You can also compare different products to find lower-calorie options

Man eating healthy food

Know your portions

Controlling your portion size is a great way to keep tabs on your calorie intake. Try this handy guide from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) to choose healthy portion sizes:

  • Your fist is about the size of 1 cup

  • Your thumb tip is about 1 teaspoon (the top joint of your thumb)

  • A handful is about 1 to 2 ounces of snack food (not a heaping handful)

Counting carbohydrates

When you eat foods that contain carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose (sugar) in the blood. By tracking your carbs and staying within your personal limits, you can help keep your blood glucose numbers within your target range.

General guidelines for counting carbohydrates

Staying Active

Staying active: exercising with diabetes

Regular physical activity can help improve your type 2 diabetes. Daily activity:

  • may help the insulin in your blood work better

  • may help lower blood sugar levels by using glucose for energy

Exercising consistently can help you manage your blood glucose and A1C level. Exercise can also help reduce stress. Stress can increase your blood sugar, making it harder to control your blood sugar levels. Remember: be sure to check with your doctor first before starting any new exercise program.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 150 minutes or more of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week for adults. When you break that into five 30-minute sessions a week, it helps to make reaching that goal a little easier. These guidelines also recommend doing muscle-strengthening activities that work all your major muscle groups twice a week or more.

Man staying healthy and exercising

Helpful tips for exercising with diabetes

Check with your doctor to find out what exercise regimen is right for you

  • Start by working toward a goal of 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week. That will get you up to a total of 150 minutes. A good way to build up to 30 minutes is to break the activity into 10-minute chunks

  • If you haven't been very active recently, start with a realistic goal of 5 or 10 minutes a day. Then add a few minutes a day to your routine

  • Excuses are easy to make. Instead, ask a friend or loved one to be your workout buddy—or sign up for a group activity like yoga

  • Beyond planned exercise, there are lots of ways you can build more activity into your day to burn calories. Remember that activities you do every day count toward your goal. You may be more active than you think. Remember, housekeeping or mowing the lawn counts as activity

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