If there was ever a moment in time to have a “glass half full” state of mind, it is when receiving the diagnosis from your doctor that you have Type 2 diabetes. Can it be dangerous? Yes. Can it be scary? Absolutely. Is it a reality check? It should be. But there is great news in what is seemingly bad, so read on to suss things out, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Type 2 diabetes is 100% reversible, and that’s pretty amazing. You can fix it. You can completely rid yourself of this diagnosis and all the symptoms that come along with it. And even better: it’s easy. You won’t have to take any medicine – you can do it all without any pills, and all it takes is your decision and commitment to live a healthier lifestyle. Here’s how to do it, using the “more or less” mentality:
Tip 1: Eat Less Processed Grains
The majority of the time, processed foods are refined carbs. The flours used in those products are so heavily refined that it causes your blood sugar to skyrocket as your body begins to digest it. Following the boost in insulin is a sharp decline, causing you to crash (aka feeling worn down and tired).
The problem begins in the processing of the grain itself. Because the most fibrous parts of the grain are removed during processing, the most nutritious aspects are subsequently removed as well. These refined carbs are now void of nearly all fibre, vitamins and minerals.
You aren’t the only one who should limit your refined carb intake. Health experts recommend that even healthy adults consume refined carbs minimally. There is no nutritional benefit in consuming heavily processed grains – for anyone. Processed grains include crackers, white flour, white bread, white rice, pasta, breakfast cereals.
Tip 2: Eat More Plants
Plant foods – when not processed – are one of the best things you can consume. Think about how big the produce section of your supermarket is and consider the size of your farmer’s market. Fruits and vegetables are plentiful, and they should be a part of your everyday diet for each meal and the snacks in between as well.
These foods can be eaten in unlimited amounts, with special attention being given to vegetables. They’re the real all-stars here with superfoods like kale, spinach, and kumara leading the charge. And don’t forget about non-fruit and non-veggie plants like beans and legumes. Grains such as quinoa, steel cut oatmeal, and brown rice are also on this list: they’re plants, they’re minimally processed, and when properly combined with healthy fats and protein, the perfect meal awaits.
One food to definitely avoid: chips. As delicious as chips may be, potatoes cause insulin to surge, and that’s what you want to avoid.
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Tip 3: Eat (and Drink) Less Sugar
Sugar falls into the “refined foods” category along with processed grains. It is hidden in so many products, so you may be consuming several grams of sugar throughout your day, and not even know it. By eliminating process grains, you’ll likely reduce your sugar intake by default.
Here’s proof: the next time you’re in the supermarket, pick up a box of “healthy” crackers. Scan the ingredients list, and you’re sure to find not only flour that will likely be labelled as “whole,” but you’ll also find sugar or some form of it.
To make it easy, cut out all drinks with sugar and stick to unsweetened coffee, unsweetened tea and water. If you crave flavour in your beverages, slice some fresh fruit (limes, lemons, and strawberries are a big favourite) and/or cucumbers and sip until your heart’s content.
As for food, avoid all sugary sweets, like cookies, cakes, pastries and all other desserts. Keep a laser-sharp focus on misleading labels boasting big health benefits; more often than not, sugar will be buried somewhere in the ingredients list.
Tip 4: Eat Less Dairy
You’ll need to be mindful of your dairy intake because, for those battling Type 2 diabetes, it can do more harm than good. Yes, dairy products pack a punch of calcium and vitamin D, but there are drawbacks.
Full-fat dairy products carry high amounts of saturated fats. Those fats are the worst fats of them all and can increase insulin resistance. Its best to minimize dairy intake or avoid it altogether but if you do decide to indulge, lean toward the lower fat alternatives.
As for how you’ll get your daily dose of calcium and vitamin D: calcium isn’t limited to dairy products. If you’re upping your veggie intake as recommended (see above), you’ll get calcium in your broccoli, kale, spinach and many more. Getting your Vitamin D is as simple as getting outside and soaking up a few rays of sun for about 15 minutes each day. Vitamin D is also found in a variety of foods, like tofu, tuna, salmon, eggs, mushrooms and almond milk.
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Tip 5: Eat Healthy Fats
Saturated fats may be a no go, but there are good fats that work wonders for the human body and even those with Type 2 diabetes because they help balance blood sugar levels.
The foods with healthy fats will be easy to take in as you focus your food intake on more fresh fruits, vegetables, and less processed foods. Think avocados, fatty fish (like salmon), whole eggs, chia seeds, flaxseeds, olives, walnuts, extra virgin olive oil and one of the newer items on the market, avocado oil.
Adding healthy fats to a meal isn’t just healthy – it also helps to stave off hunger, as the good fats make for a slower digestive process. Good fat also boosts your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. So just think: a spinach or kale salad is actually healthier and will do your body better if you douse it with a bit of olive oil.
Tip 6: Eat Less Gluten
By cutting back on gluten, you’ll simultaneously cut back on refined carbs. Gluten is guaranteed in anything containing processed wheat (aka refined carbs), (bread, desserts, crackers, pasta) and those processed foods should be minimized or completely eliminated if your goal is to manage your Type 2 Diabetes naturally.
Also, be on the lookout for heavily processed gluten-free foods. Supermarket shelves are lined with them, so remember, just because it’s gluten-free doesn’t mean its good for you. Read labels with a keen eye for refined grains and sugars and stick with the mindset of reducing or eliminating processed foods. You’ll probably find that by eating this way, gluten-free foods will make their way out of your eating regimen with little effort on your part.
Tip 7: Get More Daily Exercise
This one goes without saying, but it outside of what you put in your body, what you do with it is just as important. The current recommendations from health experts are for adults to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week. You’ll reap the most benefits by spreading this exercise throughout the week (try 30 minutes of 5 days a week) and make it a combination of both strength training and cardio.
Type 2 diabetes doesn’t have to be permanent. Look at this diagnosis as a way to educate yourself about how to be healthier, make necessary changes and then let your body take care of the rest. Your mind – and your body will thank you.