Healthy habits for people with type 2 diabetes at any age

Healthy habits for people with type 2 diabetes at any age

People with type 2 diabetes are encouraged to make healthy food choices, exercise regularly, lose weight, and stop smoking. These behaviors are considered lifestyle choices and are the foundation of our preventive health efforts. It’s interesting to think about these habits as they relate to our age and how they may change over time as we get older.

Here are some of the healthy behaviors I think are important for us to incorporate at different ages.

For people in their 20s and 30s

  • Make healthy food choices by learning how to grocery shop and cook.
  • Continue the habit of engaging in regular physical activity; exercises may change from team sports to individual activities.
  • Achieve and/or maintain a healthy weight.
  • Follow weight-gain guidelines during pregnancy (25-35 lbs.).
  • Breastfeed, if possible.
  • Lose any weight gained during pregnancy.
  • If you smoke, stop.
  • Model healthy eating and fitness habits for your children.
  • Identify a primary care doctor, eye doctor, dentist, and diabetes doctor, and have the recommended check-ups.

For people in their 40s and 50s

  • Continue to make healthy food choices, or improve on them.
  • Continue or begin a regimen of regular physical activity.
  • Achieve and/or maintain a healthy weight.
  • Manage stress in healthy ways.
  • Make time for yourself, not just for your spouse, children, and aging parents.
  • Have regular check-ups with your endocrinologist and certified diabetes educator; have annual physicals and begin preventive screenings, as recommended.

For people in their 60s and over

  • Aim for nutritious foods with lower calories.
  • Explore physical activities that you enjoy and adapt these to any limitations; add light weight training to help maintain muscle mass.
  • Avoid weight gain; if overweight, lose 7-to-10 percent of excess.
  • Manage stress in healthy ways.
  • Have all recommended medical check-ups and screenings.
  • Be a role model for healthy behaviors for your grandchildren and share your wisdom.
  • Stay active with family, friends, and your community.

Each age has unique challenges, with differing responsibilities. However, we need to focus on our diabetes care at all ages. When we build healthy habits in our younger years, we will have a good foundation, as well as the skills to help us as we get older.

Healthy Snacks for Diabetics

Many of my clients with diabetes ask me if it’s OK to snack. The answer to this question is definitely yes! It is important, however, to choose foods that are nutritious—not just empty calories (meaning regular sodas, candies, and other sweets).

Some tips about snacks

  • Snacks should have fewer carbohydrates in them than your meals do; they should also be lower in calories.
  • 1-3 snacks per day is reasonable. If you are having multiple snacks between meals, this may indicate that your last meal was too small to satisfy your appetite.
  • If you take fast-acting insulin, be sure to ask your doctor whether you’ll also need to take insulin with snacks.

Benefits of snacking

  • When people need to reduce their portions at meals, snacks can help to meet the demands of hunger and to regulate appetite.
  • Snacks help provide energy during the daytime, when people are busiest. Snacks help provide nutrients that the body needs, like vitamins and minerals.
  • By helping to stabilize blood glucose levels, snacks reduce the risk of hypoglycemia between meals.

Set carb goals

Having a carbohydrate goal for snacks is important. Most women who are trying to lose weight, as well as men who are not very active, should aim for a snack that contains 15 grams to 20 grams of carbohydrate (see below). This will be about 100 to 150 calories. Men and women who are active can have up to 30 grams of carbohydrate per snack (200 to 250 calories). Snacks may also include a small amount of fat (5 grams or less) or some protein.

Snacks with 15 grams of carbohydrate

  • 1 slice of toast with 1 tsp. of margarine
  • 1 slice of bread with 1 oz. of meat, with a healthful cabbage and delicious tomato (half a sandwich)
  • 1/2 cup of ice cream
  • 1 small piece of fruit with 1 oz. of cheese
  • 6 crackers with 1 to 2 tsps. of peanut butter
  • 1 granola bar
  • 6 oz. of light yogurt

Snacks with 30 grams of carbohydrate

  • 1 sandwich (made with 2 slices of bread)
  • 6 crackers with 15 grapes and 1 oz. of cheese
  • 1 ice-cream sandwich
  • 1 small order of French fries
  • 1 protein bar
  • 1 packet of instant oatmeal (flavored and sweetened)
  • 1 cup of low-fat milk and 5 vanilla wafers

Supplement with snacks

Choose snacks that supplement your meals. If, for example, you don’t eat fruit at meals, include fruit in your snacks. Have cut-up vegetables with your snacks to increase your daily vegetable intake. Looking to increase your calcium intake? Choose a light yogurt or 1 cup of milk at snack time. Healthy snack choices can be an important part of your daily meal pattern. Keep your carbohydrate goal in mind, and enjoy!

Share this post

Post Comment