Healthy eating and regular physical activity are important for all Australians. This is no different for those living with diabetes. In fact, eating well and being active are key parts of making sure diabetes doesn’t stop you doing anything. Alexandra Dinuccio and Alison Uldrich talk about the importance of exercise and healthy eating when living with diabetes.
With diabetes, healthy eating and physical activity can:
- Give you better control over your blood glucose (blood “sugar”) levels
- Help to achieve and maintain your healthy weight
- Get your blood lipids (fats like cholesterol in your blood) into the healthy range
- Reduce your blood pressure
- Slow or even prevent complications associated with diabetes
- Improve your state of mind, reduce stress and help with sleep
If you have diabetes, the kinds of healthy foods you should eat are no different to those recommended for all Australians. This means the whole family can enjoy the same beautiful meals! When thinking about the kinds of foods to eat, try to:
- Enjoy regular, healthy meals throughout the day
- Drink plenty of water
- Reach for wholegrain or wholemeal starchy foods, lean meats and low-fat dairy with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits
- Choose meals lower in fat, especially animal fats
- Try to limit salty and sugary foods such as chips, cakes, lollies and soft drinks
However, we all know everyone is different and unique. Therefore it is important to get personalised information from your doctor, diabetes educator or Accredited Practising Dietitian to help you plan your healthy meals. Also, see our Useful Links sections for some great, practical ideas!
Physical activity has many benefits – it improves your mood, reduces stress and tension and helps you sleep at night. Even more importantly, exercise can help you manage your blood glucose levels. The best news is you can get physical activity in so many different ways!
Aim to be as active as possible in your everyday life, for example:
- Take the stairs at work, try a standing meeting or have a walking coffee break
- Gardening, housework and home DIY count towards your daily target
- Enjoy walking your dog, taking your children or grandchildren to the park
- Take up swimming, water aerobics, tennis or bushwalking
- Try some resistance training – carry hand weights while walking, carry your shopping to the car instead of using a trolley or use resistance bands
- Invest in a healthy state of body AND mind with yoga or Tai Chi
It is best to see your doctor before embarking on a new fitness regime, especially if you are taking insulin or some other diabetes medications, due to the increased risk of hypoglycaemia. Thirty minutes per day is all it takes, so get creative!
Want some more information?
Here are some good links on:
- Healthy eating advice, information and meal ideas
- Recipes and modifying recipes
- What should I eat?
- Carbohydrates and GI explained
- Starting exercise advice and free pilates/yoga videos
- Exercise and hypoglycaemia
Alexandra Dinuccio and Alison Uldrich