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Lifestyle Changes In Managing Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is becoming more and more common primarily because of increase in the prevalence of a sedentary lifestyle as well as obesity.

Lifestyle factors associated with obesity, eating behavior and physical activity, play a major role in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes. In recent years, there has been significant progress in the development of behavioral strategies to modify these lifestyle behaviors, however, further research is clearly needed warranted.

Healthy eating habits and physical activity may help prevent or delay diabetes and its complications. Tailoring goals and targets to the patient’s preferences and progress, building the patient’s confidence in small steps and monitoring progress is important. A counseling program may be used to encourage positive choices, develop self-sufficiency and assist the patient in identifying and overcoming barriers.

The treatment goals for a diabetic are:

- Achieve near-normal blood glucose levels.
People with type 1 diabetes must coordinate caloric intake with medication or insulin administration, exercise and other variables to control blood glucose levels. New forms of insulin today allow for more flexibility in timing meals.

- Protect the heart and aim for healthy lipids (cholesterol and triglyceride) levels and control blood pressure.

- Achieve healthy weight
A healthy weight is usually defined as a weight that is achievable and sustainable rather than one that is culturally defined or desirable or ideal. 
Children, pregnant women and people recovering from illness should be sure to maintain adequate calories for health.

- Manage or prevent complications of diabetes
People with diabetes, whether type 1 or 2, are at risk for a number of medical complications including heart and kidney disease. Dietary requirements for diabetes must take these disorders into account.

Overall guidelines
There is no such thing as a single diabetes diet. Patients should meet with a professional dietician to plan an individual diet within the general guidelines that take into consideration their own health needs.

Weight management is the no:1 risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Even modest weight loss can prevent type 2 diabetes from developing. It can also help control or stop progression of type 2 diabetes in people with the condition and reduce risk factors for heart disease. People should lose weight if their body mass index (BMI) is 25-29 (overweight) or higher (obese).
Aim for small but consistent weight loss. Most patients should follow a diet that supplies 1000 – 1200 kcal/day for women and 1200-1600 kcal/day for men.

Unfortunately, not only is weight loss difficult to sustain but many of the oral medications in use in type 2 diabetes can cause weight gain as a side effect.

Sedentary habits, specially watching TV, are associated with significantly higher risks for obesity and type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise even of moderate intensity (i.e., brisk walking) improves insulin sensitivity and may play a significant role in type 2 diabetes.
Because people with diabetes are at higher than average risk of heart disease, they should always check with their doctors before undertaking vigorous exercise.

Improving sleep
Not getting enough sleep may impair insulin use and increase the risk of obesity. It is always wise to improve sleep habits.

Medical science is continually advancing which means more hope for diabetics to live normal and healthy lives. Changes in lifestyle – weight management, exercise and better sleeping habits – go a long way in managing diabetes. It can be done!