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9 Dos and Don'ts of Dieting With Diabetes

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By Barbara Brody
WebMD Feature

Slimming down can help get your blood sugar levels back into the normal range, and in some cases even cut down on or eliminate the need for medication. Easier said than done? Boost your odds of long-term success by following these expert tips.

1. DO mentally prep yourself.

"Losing weight is more like a marathon than a sprint; you can't go as hard as you can for a short period and then stop," says Michael Dansinger, MD, director of Lifestyle Coaching for Diabetes Weight Loss at Tufts Medical Center and nutrition doctor for NBC's The Biggest Loser. "If you're not ready, any changes you make aren't going to be sustainable."

To find the motivation you need to keep going and going, Dansinger suggests comparing where your current habits are taking you to where you'd rather be in 5 years. Will you have diabetes-related complications? Or will you be healthier than you are today? The decisions you make now can shape your future.

2. DON'T go overboard.

You're more likely to stick with it if you start small, says Carolyn Brown, RD, a nutritionist at Foodtrainers in New York.

"Your first step might be aiming for an extra 15 minutes of exercise, or skipping the after-dinner treats," she says. "Commit to two new things per week, and build on them."

3. DO some detective work.

Tracking everything you eat and drink for at least a week is the best way to detect patterns.

"You might find that you graze a lot more throughout the day than you realized, or that you often forget to eat breakfast," Brown says. You can use an app or pen and paper, whichever you prefer.

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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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