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Recommendations for type 2 diabetes diet and exercise?

Question: What are three things you would recommend to someone who was just diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, in regards to their diet and physical activity behaviors?

Answer: The most important issues for a newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic are getting blood sugars under control and, usually, losing weight.

Exercise

One of the most beneficial things you can do is move! Increasing your activity can help you lose weight and can help your body use the sugar circulating in your bloodstream and therefore, lowers your blood sugar levels. You should be moving quickly enough so you feel it. In other words, we're not talking about a leisurely stroll through the park, you should be moving quickly enough to get a bit out of breath, but not so quickly you can't catch your breath. And certainly if you're not used to exercising, check with your doctor before beginning any new routine. Don't poo-poo exercise because you feel you're not a 'gym' person or don't have time. Anything and everything helps -- brisk walking, running, biking, dancing, even fast-paced house cleaning and yard work, hula hooping -- anything that gets your whole body moving and will get you a bit winded. Aim for a total of 30 minutes a day, but if you have to split that up into two 15-minute chunks or three 10-minute chunks, no problem.

Diet

To start getting blood sugars under control, try to eliminate as much added sugar from your diet as you can. Think sodas, candy, juice drinks, desserts, and sugar or honey in tea and coffee. Also, try cutting your carbohydrate intake (bread, cereal, pasta, rice, white potatoes) by one quarter to one half, and spread them throughout the day. It's fine and better in fact, to have a little at each meal, but cut the portions down. These are two easy changes you can make in your eating habits that can have a big impact on your blood sugar.

Of course, for more specific suggestions geared towards you, make an appointment with a registered dietitian.

About Heidi McIndoo

Heidi McIndoo, MS is a registered dietitian who has been counseling women, men, and children about healthy eating for twenty years. She firmly believes food should be enjoyed and all foods can fit into a healthy diet -- it's just a matter of how much and how often.

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