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Socrates A. Garrigos, MD, PA

Top Lifestyle Tips For Managing Your Diabetes 

Sep 05, 2023
Top Lifestyle Tips For Managing Your Diabetes 
Medical intervention is just one-half of an effective diabetes management plan. The other half? Healthy lifestyle changes. Learn four important steps to achieve improved diabetes control, slowed disease progression, and optimal health. 

As a chronic disease management expert who specializes in diabetes care, Dr. Socrates Garrigos and our skilled team at Socrates A. Garrigos, MD, PA, in McAllen, Texas, want you to know that diabetes isn’t a “set it and forget it” condition — it’s a lifelong, progressive disease that requires an ongoing commitment to healthier habits and attentive daily care. 

Here, Dr. Garrigos offers his top four lifestyle recommendations for improving diabetes control, slowing disease progression, and gaining optimal long-term health. 

Your complete diabetes care equation

When you were diagnosed with diabetes, you started an individualized treatment plan to help you get the condition under control and protect your long-term health. In most cases, effective diabetes management involves:   

  • Daily medication and blood sugar monitoring 
  • The formation of a specialized diabetes care team 
  • Lifestyle changes to slow disease progression

While medical interventions and professional care restrain the disease and minimize your risk of health complications, you are the most important member of your diabetes management team. 

One of the most common myths about diabetes is that all it takes to control the condition is taking prescribed medication and testing blood sugar levels daily. But as essential as these interventions are, they’re not enough. 

Why? Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease, meaning the insulin resistance that drives it worsens with age. This can make your medication less effective as time passes, requiring you to take increasingly higher doses to sustain tight blood sugar control. 

So, what else can help you temper insulin resistance and minimize the effects of diabetes? The answer is simple: healthy lifestyle habits.  

Lifestyle strategies for diabetes control

That’s right: The other half of effective diabetes control is a healthy lifestyle. By committing yourself to a few modifications, you can restrain or even improve insulin resistance and slow or completely halt diabetes advancement. 

When you’re living with diabetes, these four strategies help you preserve optimal well-being and protect your long-term health:    

1. Maintain a healthy body weight 

Diabetes management is more challenging when you’re overweight, partly because excess fat (particularly along the abdomen) helps perpetuate and exacerbate the insulin resistance/high blood sugar cycle that leads to worsening diabetes control.  

Excess body weight also elevates your risk of developing high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels, two top risk factors for cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death for people with diabetes. 

You don’t need to reach your goal weight to see health improvements, either: Losing just 5-10% of your total body weight can make a real difference in your diabetes management efforts. 

2. Establish cleaner eating patterns

A wholesome diet is another essential aspect of better blood sugar control and healthy living with diabetes. Establishing cleaner eating patterns makes it easier to choose the right foods and avoid old dietary habits and pitfalls. Eating well with diabetes means: 

  • Getting plenty of dietary fiber (vegetables, fruits, whole grains)
  • Choosing lean protein sources (poultry, eggs, white fish, legumes, tofu)
  • Including healthy fats (olive oil, nuts and seeds, avocado, salmon)
  • Being mindful of calcium intake (low-fat dairy products, plain yogurt)

Knowing which foods to restrict or avoid is equally important: A healthy diabetes diet is low in saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars, and sodium. As luck would have it, your dietary efforts also go a long way in supporting better weight management. 

3. Make exercise a daily priority 

Physical activity is one of the most effective diabetes management tools: Regular exercise increases circulation, reduces inflammation, and improves insulin resistance. Over time, it can also reduce your insulin needs. 

How? When you’re active, your muscles absorb sugar from your bloodstream without relying on insulin. Simply taking a 15-minute walk after each meal can help you control your blood sugar levels more effectively — and naturally.  

Once Dr. Garrigos gives you the go-ahead to exercise, set a goal to be active most days, aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderately intense activity each week. We can provide an individualized plan that suits your fitness level and interests if you’re unsure where to start.

4. Manage your life stressors

Uncontrolled stress isn’t just bad for your mindset — it can also increase your blood sugar levels. Effective diabetes management requires strategies that help mitigate outside pressures, ease your anxieties, and reduce stress levels. 

And when you are feeling stressed, it’s critical to pause and take a more mindful approach. Whether you listen to music, read a book, go for a walk, or practice deep breathing, finding a way to stay present and restore your balance is beneficial for your emotional health and blood sugar levels. 

Improve your diabetes care plan today

Are you ready to improve your diabetes care and management plan? We can help. Call or click online to schedule a visit at Socrates A. Garrigos, MD, PA, in McAllen, Texas, today.