If you have been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, or you have been told you run a high risk of developing the condition, you could be forgiven for feeling worried, upset, even defeated.
But don’t! There are ways to live with Type 2 Diabetes and be in control, rather than feeling as if the condition is controlling you.
How? By making some health-conscious lifestyle changes. Changes that will most likely enhance and improve your wellbeing instead of feeling restrictive and debilitating.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
“Type 2 Diabetes is a condition which develops if your body can no longer respond effectively enough to its own insulin levels in order to prevent your blood glucose levels from going too high.”Diabetes.co.uk
It sounds serious, and it is, but Type 2 Diabetes can be tackled and there are ways to fight back against it to get it under control. Think diagnosis, not defeat!
There are several key areas of your life where you should pay close attention, these are: Fitness and physical activity, weight management, diet, mental wellbeing and stress.
Below we have broken each of these down with some tips to help you live with Type 2 Diabetes and enjoy a happier, healthier lifestyle.
Fitness and Physical Activity
It’s time to get physical! Enjoying a physical workout is great for your body and your mind too. NICE recommends that you take either 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, or 75 minutes of higher-intense exercise every week. Try activities like: walking (briskly), water aerobics, a Pilates class or a bike ride (all moderate intensity) OR jogging, skipping, swimming, or a game of tennis (vigorous intensity).
Here’s the trick: Don’t think of exercise as something you have to do, find an activity that you enjoy and make it something you look forward to doing! Do you like dogs? Get one, borrow one, volunteer to walk one and get out there a few times a week! Feeling stressed at work? Find a local tennis club and go and smash a ball around (it’s great for your fitness and your mental wellbeing).
Making your fitness a priority will make you feel so much healthier, and in control. Slot exercise into your routine and before you realise, it will become second nature to you.
Weight Management and Diet
How many people actually know what their ideal weight is? By this, we don’t mean what they would like to weigh, but what they should weigh.
NICE guidelines for lowering the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes recommend maintaining a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index). Your BMI is the numerical value of your weight in relation to your height, and a healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. You can use this handy online BMI calculator from the NHS to find out your current BMI.
If your BMI is above 25 then you are classed as overweight, and this could increase your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, or worsening the condition if you already have it. The recommendation from NICE is that those with an overweight or obese category BMI should aim to lose weight slowly. In other words, don’t embark on a crash diet because steady weight loss is much more sustainable.
The good news is, weight can be managed by making some healthy lifestyle tweaks. With regular exercise (see above) and enjoying a healthy well-balanced diet, you will begin to see positive results.
When you are aiming to lose weight, try to avoid the word ‘DIET’. Instead, accept that this is how you live now. This doesn’t have to be a punishment! Find foods you enjoy, begin to cut down on the foods that you know are unhealthy and enjoy them as treats.
Which food groups should you avoid and include in a healthy diet?
Try to reduce your fat intake – especially saturated fats in chips, takeaway meals, biscuits, crisps, etc.
Fibre is your friend! It can be found in vegetables, fruit, and wholegrain foods like beans, pulses, and lentils. Fibre can be very filling and satisfying too.
Other tips: Control your portion sizes, aim to eat leaner, and reduce processed sugars wherever you can. Visit the NHS Eatwell Guide for more information on adopting a healthier diet.
Mental Wellbeing and Stress
The world is finally waking up to the importance of Mental Health, and realising that many people are living with anxiety, stress and depression as part of their every day lives.
When we feel stressed, our bodies are designed to fight back by releasing stress hormones which can raise blood pressure. Stress can also cause a surge in blood glucose, and constant stress can make managing blood glucose levels increasingly difficult.
Stress affects our entire body and mind. It can be exhausting and cause us to neglect our physical health as we fight against the negative emotions it brings with it.
How can we reduce stress and anxiety? Two words: Me Time! Work, family, money, and life in general can often take over and we forget to look after ourselves. Look at your life and recognise any areas where you can take your foot off the pedal for a while. Speak to your boss about flexible working, or ask for some help with childcare – maybe split some play dates with a friend. Then find something you really enjoy and make time to do it each week – reading a book, yoga, sleeping – this is not you neglecting your responsibilities – your health is your responsibility! You owe yourself some time, so never feel guilty for taking some back.
If you feel like you need more support with your mental health, please talk to somebody. There are many tips and resources on the Mind website.
Choose your lifestyle – don’t let it choose you!
Who thinks it’s about time we all started being kinder to ourselves? We ALL deserve some self-love right? Type 2 Diabetes can be a massive warning that we aren’t putting our wellbeing first. The thought of living with a chronic illness like Diabetes is certainly scary, but it doesn’t have to define who you are. We are all in control of our own health! If we look after the one body and mind we are given, then our lives can be even more fulfilling because we live more happily, feel more in control, and we can live longer as a result! Just take a moment to think about this, make it your morning mantra.
Do you live with Type 2 Diabetes? We would love to hear what lifestyle changes you have adopted – and how they have had a positive effect. Get in touch here, or via our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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