Steal a trick or two from these diabetes experts to keep your blood sugar on track.
Prepare home-cooked meals
There’s nothing better than eating a delicious homemade meal after a long day at the office. Not only will your stomach thank you, your blood sugar will too! “My family and I eat at home,” says Joel Zonszein, MD, director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at the Montefiore Jack D. Weiler Hospital and professor of medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “Eating and talking at the table with my wife and children without our cellphones, the television, or computer is important.” In fact, research from the Nurses Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study asked 99,000 men and women about their lunch and dinner habits for more than 30 years. People who reported eating at least two meals at home each day had an average 13 percent lower risk of getting diabetes compared to people who ate fewer than six home-cooked meals each week.
Exercise for at least 30 minutes a few times each week
It’s no surprise that “lowering blood sugar” makes the long list of reasons why exercise is good for you! “Aerobic workouts like running tend to keep my blood sugar levels low because I burn through my energy and burn up more glucose faster,” says Jenn LeBlanc, who has type 1 diabetes, a BSN, RN, and certified diabetes educator at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. “Anaerobic exercise is a slow burn and it’s not until hours later that my blood sugar drops.” LeBlanc works out to a 30-minute boot camp fitness video that incorporates short bursts of high-intensity activities mixed with intervals of strength training like lunges and squats. (Make sure you know how interval training can help stabilize blood sugar levels within two weeks.)
Avoid starchy foods first thing in the morning
No one wants to start his or her day off with a blood sugar spike that can send you crashing later in the day. In the morning, your body goes into hormone overload to help wake you up, also called the “dawn phenomenon.” When your hormone production kicks into high gear, your blood sugar levels rise rapidly. The dawn phenomenon can be a nuisance for diabetics because their insulin response can’t adjust properly to the surge in glucose. “I notice that if I eat anything starchy in the morning mixed together with the ‘dawn effect’ my sugars go through the roof,” says Scott Soleimanpour, MD, who has type 1 diabetes, an assistant professor of endocrinology at the University of Michigan Health System. Both he and LeBlanc start their mornings with low-carb breakfasts such as a single serving cup of Greek yogurt with a cup of coffee or a hard-boiled egg paired with a protein shake—breakfast foods that keep them full but don’t send their blood sugar levels skyrocketing. Besides too much starch, make sure you avoid developing these nine terrible eating habits for diabetes.