Tips for Blood Sugar Control When You Have Type 2 Diabetes
Medically Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on June 29, 2021
Know Your Numbers
Check your blood sugar levels at least once a day with a blood glucose meter, and keep a record of the readings. Know what’s normal, high, and low. You’ll be able to spot patterns and give your health care team the information they need to craft a treatment plan for when things get off-track.
Pay Attention to Portions
Even when you’re eating healthy food, you can have too much of a good thing. A good rule of thumb: Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, and split the other half between a lean protein and a grain.
Fill Up on Fiber
It's a good way to bulk up your meals. And since your body doesn’t digest it, it doesn’t raise your blood sugar. Aim for at least 25 grams a day. Fruits and veggies with the skin on, whole grains, and legumes are all good sources.
Be Carb Smart
Carbohydrates turn right into glucose after you eat them. So it’s extra important to keep them in check. When you choose your carbs, give your body the good stuff: fruits, veggies, whole grains, and beans. Ease up on less healthy options, like white bread and white rice.
Keep Your Cool
When you have diabetes, you feel hotter faster than other people. A hot body doesn't deal with blood sugar as well. Wear loose-fitting, cool clothes and a hat. Head for the air conditioning when temps are their highest.
Regular exercise makes insulin work better in your body. Being active is vital to lowering your blood sugar, so find your workout groove. Take walks, swim a few laps, do yoga, dance -- find something you enjoy, and make it part of every day.
Go Small With Alcohol
You don’t have to avoid it altogether -- but be smart about drinking when you do. If you drink, women should stick to one 12-ounce beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor a day at most. Men should have only twice that. And don’t drink on an empty stomach or when your blood sugar is low.
Snooze So You Don't Lose
Crummy sleep leaves you grumpy and tired. Did you know it can also raise your blood sugar levels the next day? What’s more, it leaves your brain foggy and your hormones out of whack. Make sleep a priority: Shut off screens, wind down, and aim for 8 hours of shut-eye every night.
Watch Your Weight
Extra pounds put a strain on your body and bump up your blood sugar. Small shifts each day can move you toward a healthier weight. Write down your meals and snacks each day to give yourself a better picture of what you eat. Find a way to move your body for at least 30 minutes a day. Even dropping 10-15 pounds can make a big difference.
Mind Your Meds
Some people with type 2 diabetes can manage their condition without medication. Only your doctor can make that call. If you do need insulin or other meds, take them as you should, even when you feel good. They have a direct effect on your blood sugar levels and help you control ups and downs.
Diabetes doesn’t have to ground you. You can manage your blood sugar while you’re out and about -- even when you travel. It just takes some prep work. Talk to your doctor before any trips. Never leave home without your meds or snacks. And pack more than you think you’ll need of both, so you don’t run out.
Fill In Your Family
Diabetes is a family affair. If the people who live (and eat) with you are in the know about what’s healthy and what’s not, it makes managing your blood sugar that much easier. Think about taking a class with your partner or kids so you’re all up to speed on the diabetes lifestyle.
Take Some Pressure Off
When stress is high, so is a hormone in your body called cortisol. Too much of it messes with how well your body manages sugar in the blood. If you can get stress out of your life, do it. If not, change how you react to it: Take up meditation, eat and sleep well, see a counselor, and exercise. Taking care of your mental health boosts your physical health, too.
Filter Your Fats
Your body needs fat for energy. But bad ones like saturated and trans fats can be tough for your blood sugar. Choose healthy fats like monounsaturated, omega-3, and polyunsaturated ones. Go for fish and lean meats instead of red meat. Avoid fried foods. Choose low-fat dairy, and say no to sauces.
Diabetes can dry you out. When that happens, your blood struggles to keep sugar levels low. This makes you go to the bathroom more, which dehydrates you even further. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink. Find a water bottle you like and carry it with you everywhere. Ask your doctor how much you should be drinking every day. Ease up on caffeine, too.
IMAGES PROVIDED BY:
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Know Your Blood Sugar Numbers: Use Them to Manage Your Diabetes,” “4 Steps to Manage Your Diabetes for Life,” “Diabetes Diet, Eating, & Physical Activity,” “Insulin, Medicines, & Other Diabetes Treatments.”
Joslin Diabetes Center: “How Does Fiber Affect Blood Glucose Levels?”
CDC: “Managing Diabetes in the Heat.”
American Diabetes Association: “Physical Activity is Important,” “Alcohol,” “Overweight,” “When You Travel,” “Family Meals -- Eat Healthy Together!”
Diabetes Forecast: “Why You Need To Get More Sleep,” “The Connection Between Stress and Type 2.”
University of Miami Diabetes Research Institute: “Facts About Fat.”