Five Baby Steps To A Healthier You
We might feel as though making changes to control our blood glucose is impossible, and unrealistic. But, unlike what we might think, it is not necessary to immediately overhaul our entire lives in order to make meaningful changes. It’s not the amount of changes we take on that matters, but how well we stick to them. And how well we stick to them is a matter of building habits which become ingrained in our routines, much like brushing our teeth. Here are 5 simple ideas for small steps we can take (one at a time) in order to make meaningful changes toward a healthier lifestyle, and better glucose control:
- Have Breakfast: Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, or so goes the old cliché. But is it really a cliché? With our busy routines, we often don’t plan for breakfast – just grab a cup of Joe and head out the door. But the fact is that many persons with diabetes have a hard time regulating their blood glucose levels in the morning. This is because our bodies have spent many hours not eating, so it gives us extra glucose it has stored ‘for a rainy day.’ And that’s a tricky thing for a person with diabetes, whose insulin isn’t working quite right! Having a protein based breakfast in the morning helps stop that morning uptrend – and gives us long lasting fullness.
- Drink More Water: It might seem silly, but it’s quite simple really – if we don’t drink enough water, our blood stream becomes thicker, and therefore more concentrated in blood glucose levels. Drink more water, and you’ll have a healthier blood glucose level. This is not to say that we should chug a gallon or two. If we drink too much, we end up flushing our system of important vitamins and minerals. Conventional science recognizes there is NO set level of water we must drink – but we must drink “to thirst.” Though our bodies get hydration through the foods we eat, and not just the drinks we choose, the fact of the matter is that many of us do not drink enough water through the day. Often, we are so used to overeating, that we might even confuse our thirst signals for hunger signals. So, practice some self awareness, and listen for those thirst cues!
- Move Your Body: Cardiovascular exercise is important. But many of us are just not at a level where we feel very comfortable with exercise, and might push ourselves too much, too soon. It’s not a bad idea to work on getting the body used to movement, and incrementing from there. You may schedule a simple walk around the block in the morning, or after a meal, or in the evening... a walk that might make you focus on how good it feels to move. Even a small walk before, or after a meal, can do wonders to help manage blood glucose. It might feel challenging, but with time, it will become easier and easier. You may even pose yourself some pleasant challenges, like upping your speed, using hand weights, etc. Bring a buddy along, or use the moment to enjoy a peaceful respite from work or a smart phone addiction.
- Add a Non-Starchy Veggie to Your Meals: Don’t cherish the idea of eating vegetables? Try picking one meal a day to which you add one veggie serving. Experiment with finding a veggie you enjoy, and cooking it in different ways. Non-starchy vegetables are fiber rich and help mop up excess blood glucose from our meals. They give us necessary vitamins and minerals, regulate hunger signals, improve digestion, and add water to our systems. Try increasing your serving size of them, while decreasing your serving size of starches, or other grains. You will slowly improve your levels of fullness and meal satisfaction.
- Slowly Cut Back on Portion Sizes: Cutting back on our serving size helps a lot with our total caloric intake. It’s an excellent baby step, especially when we’re getting used to eating differently. Just not going back for a second helping, or by using a smaller plate or serving size, we’re cutting back on extra calories from fat and excess carbohydrates that later may translate into excess weight and higher glucose levels. This can be a tricky step, but if we master this step, we’ll be more successful in sticking to other changes. Try becoming familiar with a food’s serving size, its caloric content, and with your feelings of hunger and fullness when you’re enjoying a meal. Is that extra bite the difference between being satisfied, full, or painfully stuffed? Does that food item help you feel satisfied, at all? You can be the judge!
Find a baby step, and work on it for a month or two... and then find another one. Break down the challenge into many little goals, and go from there. The idea isn’t to make ourselves miserable with changes – but to help find our joy in healthfulness.
What aspect of diabetes management do you struggle with most?