My grandfather always used to say, “You have to be your own doctor.” He couldn’t be more right.
YOU know your own body better than anyone else.
But YOU have to make the changes. It’s not “I can” but “I will.” It’s not “I should” but “I must.”
What I’m about to share is NOT medical advice and you should always consult your doctor before trying anything, especially as a Type 1 diabetic where insulin levels need to be monitored and adjusted.
However, YOU need to be your own advocate.
Take into consideration the following suggestions to better manage your blood sugar levels:
When my grandmother was first diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, her doctor told her to eat Special K breakfast cereal bars to balance her blood sugar, no further context. Consequently, she kept a large stash under her bed thinking it would cure her diabetes, but she couldn’t understand why her blood sugar would raise drastically and she wouldn’t feel good when she ate them.
When a friend was diagnosed with diabetes, her doctor told her she could eat brownies regularly. As long as she took insulin, she could eat whatever she wanted.
According to Stanford University, “Doctors have historically received almost no nutritional training, which limits their ability to effectively talk to patients about it. During four years of medical school, most students spend fewer than 20 hours on nutrition.”
Here’s what I have found to be helpful:
KNOW YOUR CARBS + LIMIT THEM - Carbohydrates are easily converted to glucose in the blood. This raises blood sugar levels. Reducing your carbohydrate intake can increase insulin sensitivity. Furthermore, without the presence of glucose in the diet, your pancreas can produce glucagon to remove stored body fat. Of course, different types of carbohydrates create varying blood glucose responses so find what works for you. If you choose to have some carbs in your meal, I suggest more greens and other vegetable varieties, lower glycemic fruits, and sprouted grains. Avoid highly processed and unrefined carbohydrates.
EAT MORE PROTEIN AND HEALTHY FATS - Eating a diet that is higher in protein and fat will reduce sugar cravings, increase satiety, and help to lessen glucose responses in the body. Regularly have balanced meals with sufficient protein, healthy fats, and lower-glycemic and more complex, unrefined carbohydrates. Your goal should be to have approximately 1g of protein per pound of lean body weight.
REDUCE/ELIMINATE PROCESSED FOODS - Processed foods are not real food. They completely change the way our body metabolizes food. Focusing on a WHOLE FOOD diet puts you in control of the quality and the ingredients of the food you eat.
As I mentioned previously, my grandmother is a Type 2 diabetic. On the rare occasion that she indulges in her favorite Italian pastry, Zeppole, she walks immediately after. After her last indulgence, she walked for one hour and her blood sugar never went above 108. Walking is powerful.
Even light exercise gives the extra energy somewhere to go. Add muscle to the mix and now you’ve got plentiful glycogen stores waiting to be filled instead of having the sugar roam around your blood stream with nowhere to go.
My tips: Walk at least 15 minutes a day and strength train at least 2-4 times a week. It’s as simple as that.
Drinking adequate amounts of water not only prevents dehydration, but also helps to dilute and lush out excess glucose from your blood.
Aim to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water a day.
As mentioned in the last article, when we experience stress, including from a lack of sleep, cortisol levels rise. Cortisol can breakdown your own tissues and convert that into glucose, raising your blood sugar. Insulin levels also drop, further increasing blood sugar levels.
To minimize these blood sugar highs and lows, focus on stress management techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, prayer, journaling, walking, yoga and stretching.
Don’t underestimate getting enough sleep! Even just 1 night of sleep deprivation can cause insulin resistance. Focus on having a consistent nighttime and morning time routine to train your body for when it’s time to go to bed and when it’s time to wake up! And don’t forget to get your 7-8 hours in consistently! I love using my Oura ring to instill healthy sleep habits.
Of course, you’ll want to prioritize a healthy, balanced, nutrient-dense diet before jumping in to supplementation. But over the years, whole foods have become depleted of these vital nutrients, making supplementation necessary at times.
Here are some supplements you may consider taking to improve or completely reverse diabesity:
Vitamin D - to improve insulin resistance
Fish oil - to reduce inflammation
Magnesium - to improve fasting blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity
Chromium (you can get this by adding more cinnamon to your diet as well) - mimics the effects of insulin
Biotin - helps regulate blood glucose
Bitter melon - to lower blood sugar levels
Aloevera - to lower blood sugar levels
Dandelion - to improve blood sugar levels, lower triglycerides/total cholesterol while raising good cholesterol
Glucobitters - “Each herb in this blend helps lessen occasional cravings and supports insulin sensitivity, helping you become less resistant to reaching your weight management goals”
Of course, consult with your doctor before deciding to supplement as these supplements may interfere with other medications and conditions.
Whether or not you are a victim of diabesity, these lifestyle habits are tested and true. In my practice, I consider these 6 steps fundamental pillars of a healthy lifestyle for everyone. It can seem daunting to take on all of these habits at once. But as a team, we’ll put the puzzle pieces together to create a healthy lifestyle that works for YOU.