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Tip 5. Jump on the Wagon

Why? Alcohol is toxic to nerves, says the ADA. Your liver has two main jobs: to clear toxins like alcohol from your body, and to convert carbohydrate into blood glucose your body can use. But drinking sidetracks your liver; it won't start working to level out blood sugar until it "sweeps" the alcohol from your bloodstream, so blood sugar swings can result. And if you have diabetic neuropathy, drinking may spur on pain, tingling, and other symptoms, says the ADA.

The goal. To be safe, the ADA advises people with advanced diabetic neuropathy not to drink at all, since it's possible that nerve damage can be brought on even by light drinking (fewer than 2 drinks a week). If you do drink, they advise no more than 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men.

How?

  • Try a variety of mineral waters with a fresh slice of lemon, lime, or orange for flavor.
  • Make a "Virgin Mary": spice up tomato juice with a splash of hot pepper sauce, lemon juice, dried herbs, and a stalk of fresh celery - but hold the liquor.
  • If you do celebrate occasionally, never drink on an empty stomach. Have your drink with or after dinner, to help prevent sugar "lows."

Tip 6. Eat Less Fat

Why? Nearly 9 out of 10 adults with type 2 diabetes are overweight, says the ADA. Losing weight can lower blood glucose, give you more energy, lighten the load on feet already sore from nerve pain, and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.

The goal? Try to stick to 3 - 5 servings of fat a day (or as advised by your doctor). Remember that 1 serving of fat is only 1 teaspoon of olive oil or margarine.

How?

  • These days, "low-fat" is everywhere. But read food labels carefully. "Lite" doesn't always mean "low-fat." Find out how many grams of fat are in each serving of the foods you enjoy.
  • No matter how rushed you feel, avoid grabbing fast foods on the go. A single fast-food meal could cost you a week's worth of fat servings.
  • Fill up on low-fat soups, salads with low-fat dressing, and raw veggies that satisfy your taste buds with a variety of flavors and textures.

And remember to relax and enjoy your meals. That way, you're less likely to overeat from stress, and more likely to savor the flavor of foods. Your nerves will be glad you did.

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