What’s the best way to manage my type 2 diabetes?

Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is probably the last thing you are expecting to happen to you. As we all know it is a life changing condition which affects up to one in three adults worldwide but with early diagnosis and expert advice it can be handled successfully. And in many cases type 2 diabetes can be managed solely by following a healthy lifestyle and regular monitoring of your blood sugar levels without the need for any medication.

Once diagnosed you will need to check your blood sugar levels regularly throughout the day and keep an accurate food, hydration and exercise diary so you can track your progress at balancing your blood sugar levels and maintaining them within normal boundaries.

Everybody’s body reacts slightly differently to what you eat and drink so you will need to work out what the best food combinations are for you, how much water you need to drink every day to stay hydrated properly and how much daily exercise is beneficial for you.

What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes can vary a lot from person to person. Typical symptoms include excessive thirst, extreme tiredness, increased appetite, dry mouth, frequent trips to the bathroom, blurred vision, headaches, numbness or nerve pain….. If you are experiencing these types of symptoms it is worth seeing your doctor to have a check up and have a blood test done to check your glucose levels. If left untreated diabetes can lead to long term complications such as blindness and limb amputation due to very poor blood flow.

How often should I eat during the day once I have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes?

It is best to plan your food intake in advance for the day and always carry healthy protein snacks and water round with you during the day. It is not advisable to have long time gaps between meals. A good example would be to eat breakfast at 7am, small mid morning snack at 11am. Lunch at 1.30pm, small afternoon snack at 4pm and dinner between 6 and 7pm.

Every meal or snack you eat during the day needs to have enough protein and good levels of fibre to help balance your blood sugar levels. Planning your meals ahead over a week or two week period will help you eat the right combinations of foods and help you create a healthy balanced diet which suits your own specific activity levels.

What food should I eat when my blood sugar level is too high? (Hyperglycemia)

The first three things which you are recommended to do are to drink more water to help rebalance your body. Next, do some gentle exercise for about 10 or 15 minutes which will help to bring down your blood sugar levels back down into the normal range. Lastly, eat a protein snack such as a handful of nuts, a boiled egg, 30g of cooked chicken breast or a protein bliss ball. Retest your blood sugar level and if it is still to high repeat these three steps. If you take medication for type 2 diabetes such as insulin then you may need to adjust your dosage to help lower your blood sugar level.

What food is best to eat when my blood sugar level is too low? (Hypoglycemia)

At the other end of the spectrum is when your blood sugar level is too low or hypoglycemia. This can happen for various different reasons. Usually it is linked to excessive tiredness through excessive exercise, lack of regular sleep, drinking alcohol without eating anything or poor diet over a period of time. To help bring up your blood sugar levels back into the normal range you can eat a small protein snack such as nuts and also eat one of the following: a glass of semi skimmed milk, a small glass of fruit juice, a small banana, a small avocado. Ten minutes after you have eaten you can retest your blood sugar levels to check you are back in the normal range.

How much water should I drink during the day?

Make sure you are drinking lots of filtered water or herbal tea during the day to keep your hydration levels up. Drinking up to three cups of coffee (one shot per cup) is fine in the morning. Try to move over to filtered water or to tea in the afternoon as coffee contains high levels of caffeine and can make you feel nervy or jittery and will affect the quality of your sleep.

Which diet is the healthiest to follow for people with type two diabetes?

The best diet for you to follow is a well balanced diet with a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables and lots of fibre. Cook all your food from scratch and avoid eating any processed foods, frozen foods or ready made sauces which are full of additives, high in fat, added sugar and salt. Limit the amount of fresh fruit you eat to 2 pieces per day eaten in the morning. From the afternoon onwards stick to vegetables for snacks or as part of your evening meal.


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