Living with Type 2 Diabetes, Beyond Diet and Exercise

While on the quest to manage blood sugar, reduce A1c, and make sustainable healthy lifestyle choices with type 2 diabetes, many people are told to “eat less and exercise more.” Let’s dig a little deeper and look at other aspects of managing type 2 diabetes. Of course diet and exercise are important, but adding other forms of diabetes management to your toolbelt can be empowering and a more holistic approach that is individualized to you. You are the expert of your body and how it feels. 

Intuitive Practices for People with Diabetes 

When you start on your health journey, I always encourage people to ask themselves if they are in tune with their body and basic needs. This may be related to food and exercise but it can also be applied to sleep, stress, human connection, hydration, acknowledging symptoms, etc. Start thinking about the day to day little habits and trusting your body cues. 

General Examples: Do you notice when you are hungry or when you are experiencing high or low blood sugar? If so, do you have food or snacks available to you at all times? This is a form of intuitive self-care and can prevent overeating later and help keep a balanced blood sugar. A great step for action would be to have portable “emergency snacks” on hand that are satiating and nutrient dense to keep you consistently fueled throughout the day. Are you waking up tired and fatigued? If you are running on empty, do you have forms of restorative coping techniques? Acknowledging low energy and creating a bedtime routine that promotes adequate sleep may be a good place to start. Poor sleep can certainly impact blood sugar, food choices and ability to exercise. 

Develop a Routine 

Create routine and structure in your everyday life that supports your well-being. This can look different for everyone and it doesn’t have to be boring habits. 

Ideas for creating health focused routine

Create a morning routine that you are excited about. Maybe it’s a satisfying flavorful breakfast you make the night before or a yoga and journaling ritual to organize your day and priorities. Schedule regular lunch-time walks with coworkers or try taking an actual lunch break without working or distractions while eating After dinner strolls around the neighborhood also can be a great option in the evening to help lower blood sugar, digest, and destress. Having a regular visit with a mental health counselor or scheduling time with a support group can help you normalize diabetes and problem solve. Being able to talk about struggles or barriers can be therapeutic when it comes to managing type 2 diabetes (and life in general). 

Supportive Healthcare Team for Diabetes Management 

Finding a physician who you can be honest with and develop a plan that works with your lifestyle, beliefs, and values is critical. Your healthcare team needs to be involved and aware of your health goals. If a physician is being weight biased, not listening to your concerns, or acts disinterested in having conversations about ways to manage diabetes, you need to find another provider. You should be nothing less than empowered! 

Reduce Stress and REST 

This is a hard one in the busy world we live in. Managing a healthy lifestyle and type 2 diabetes can be overwhelming at times. Stress can be difficult to recognize if you’ve been on autopilot mode or have not paid attention to how you are feeling. Chronic stress can impact your immune system, blood sugar and metabolism along with many other major body systems. Overworking and poor sleep have been linked to increased blood sugar levels, negative impacts on hunger and fullness hormones, and mood. When you need to rest, rest. 

Look at the Whole Picture 

Assessing your lifestyle as a whole and focusing on what makes you feel good is a great place to start. There isn’t a “perfect” way to manage your diabetes at all times. Adapting to life’s changes with an empowered attitude is key.

Haley Hughes MS, RD, LD, CDCES, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor
I’m Haley Hughes, owner of RDRx Nutrition where I provide individualized nutritional counseling and lifestyle coaching. I am a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, CrossFit Level 1 Coach, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor and Certified Yoga Teacher as well as an avid athlete and adventurer. My mission is to empower clients with healthy habits that improve their quality of life!

Diabetes is my superpower
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