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7 ‘Good’ Habits to Give Up for Type 2 Diabetes

You know that managing type 2 diabetes isn't only about taking medication, so you've been trying to make better food and lifestyle choices. But figuring out what's healthy -- and what isn't -- can be confusing. Case in point: the following seven habits, which seem like they're good for you but could actually be sabotaging your efforts.

1. Buying "sugar-free" foods

The supermarket is brimming with packaged items that appear to be diabetes-friendly because they don't have added sugar. But many contain carb-containing sugar substitutes, so they have the potential to send your blood sugar levels soaring. Before you put something in your cart, check the nutrition facts to see how many grams of carbs are in each serving.

2. Swapping meals for meal replacement bars

Losing weight can improve your condition, and relying on meal replacement bars might seem like an easy way to slim down.

Many meal replacement products are aimed at athletes, so they can be high in calories. Others contain ingredients such as sugar alcohols (like sorbitol and mannitol), which can cause stomach trouble.

Occasionally munching on a bar for breakfast when you're pressed for time is OK (as long as you pay attention to the nutrition info), but in general it's smarter to stick with real meals.

3. Loading up on vitamins and supplements

Most people with diabetes don't need extra vitamins and supplements. A diet that has lots of fruit and vegetables should provide all the nutrients you need. Taking a multivitamin may help fill in nutritional gaps, but it can't match the real thing: food.

Some people take supplements like cinnamon or chromium to try to keep their blood sugar levels stable, but it's unclear whether these work. If you choose to try them -- or any supplement -- tell your doctor, to make sure it's safe for you and won't interact with any medication you’re taking.

4. Drinking juice

Yes, it's made from fruit; but natural doesn't always equal healthy. One cup of apple juice, for example, has 25 grams of sugar and only 0.5 grams of fiber.

An apple, on the other hand, has less sugar (19 grams) and more fiber (4.5 grams), so it will satisfy you longer and help stabilize your blood sugar. What's more, a study found that drinking juice every day increases the risk of developing diabetes -- but regularly eating whole fruit lowers it.

5. Downing diet soda

It may be calorie-free, carbohydrate-free, and sugar-free, but you can still overdo it. One study found that overweight people who rely on diet soda end up taking in more calories from food. Why? Diet-drink lovers may think they're "saving" calories on drinks and can afford to splurge on food. Another possible reason is that artificial sweeteners confuse your body because they taste sweet but don't provide calories. If you're craving a cola once in a while, it's fine to treat yourself. But you should usually fill your glass with water and other unsweetened beverages, like plain iced tea.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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