Of the millions of people diagnosed with diabetes in America, 88.2% use oral medicines or insulin (or a combo of both) for glycemic control—a statistic that may make you think meds are the only way to control blood sugar levels. And while it is always important for you to follow your physician’s instructions regarding medicine, there are some other natural ways that will help you keep your numbers steadier, too.
Instead of letting the meds do 100 percent of the work for you, as a nutritionist, I suggest incorporating some easy diet and lifestyle changes to manage blood sugar levels. Not only will these nudge your numbers more toward a healthy range, but they may also help you shed that unwanted weight and feel much better overall!
Try these three effortless additions to your daily routine.
1 — Take a walk after eating meals.
If you have been living with diabetes or prediabetes for a while, you have probably heard of the importance on incorporating some physical activity. There is a lot of research out there that shows that exercising and keeping your blood pumping could keep your blood sugar levels lower. Both aerobic exercise and resistance training work to decrease HbA1c, even when they do not lead to weight loss.
But what if your schedule does not allow for going to the gym every day? You could still reap the benefits just by doing a simple after-meal walk. A study released in the journal Diabetes Care discovered that walking after eating significantly improved blood sugar control in older individuals. Hitting the pavement for about 15 mins immediately after your meals was much more effective at controlling blood sugar than a 45-min walk during another time of the day.
2 — Try a sugar alternative.
Dietitians and doctors have long touted some zero-sugar sweeteners for those with diabetes—but they have a bad reputation for being a lot less satisfying than what the real thing is. Before you say no to pouring a little blue or pink packet into your morning cup of coffee, just remember: some nonnutritive sweeteners have really come a long way!
These days, you can pick from tons of other options that will not increase your blood sugar levels, such as stevia, erythritol, sucralose and allulose. Many of these items are just as sweet as the real thing and blend great with baked goods or hot beverages.
3 — Enjoy a bowl of oatmeal for your breakfast.
Not all carbs are made equal for your blood sugar levels. Fiber, though technically a carb, has dramatically different effects on your blood sugar control than others do, refined carbs. Boosting consumption of soluble fibers in a meal could keep your blood sugar from spiking.
Looking to increase that all-important soluble fiber consumption? Switching out the refined grains for some whole grains is a simple swap—especially during breakfast time. By consuming oatmeal for your breakfast, you will load up on more soluble fiber like beta-glucan, a fiber that is especially linked with decreasing blood sugar levels.