House Call: Managing Diabetes through Nutrition & Exercise
Proper diet and regular exercise play integral roles in treating and managing diabetes.
A healthy diet paired with exercise and proper medication management can significantly improve the quality of life of individuals living with diabetes.
One key factor in managing diabetes through proper nutrition is monitoring carbohydrate intake. Diabetic patients are encouraged to incorporate more low-carb foods into their diets, such as non-starchy vegetables and lean protein, as well as eat less high-carb foods, such as starches.
It is also recommended for diabetics to omit concentrated sugars from their diets, such as soda, fruit juice and sweet tea.
Portion control is also important in managing diabetes through proper diet. The serving size is the most important part of food labels—always check the serving size of food items and portion meals accordingly. Using measuring cups when preparing meals can be an extremely helpful tool for diabetics to properly monitor carbohydrate intake. Follow the “My Plate” method when preparing meals by filling half a medium size plate with non-starchy vegetables, one quarter of the plate with lean protein and the other quarter with a starch.
The American Diabetes Association recommends diabetics to engage in at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. Aerobic exercises, such as walking, swimming, biking and jogging, help control and lower blood sugar levels. Fitting 30 minutes of exercise into your schedule five times a week is ideal for lowering blood sugar. Over time, as your endurance and fitness levels increase, try to increase the length and intensity of your workouts, and begin incorporating strength and resistance training.
The team of registered dieticians and diabetes educators at the Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Management Center is dedicated to educating diabetic patients throughout the community on how to manage their disease through proper diet and exercise.
Margaret “Maggie” May is the diabetes coordinator at Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Management Center. Maggie is a registered dietician nurse, and Certified Diabetes Educator. She earned a Master of Science in nursing in 1982 and a Master of Science in nutrition in 1998 from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.