The primary aim of treating type 2 diabetes is to help control blood glucose levels, but another key aim is to help with weight loss or weight management.
Keeping blood sugar levels under control is important as high sugar levels have been shown to significantly increase the risk of health problems (complications)developing later in life.
Type 2 diabetes can be treated by a number of different methods, ranging from lifestyle adjustments to tablet medication and injections, through to bariatric (weight loss) surgery.
Lifestyle changes are advised for everyone with type 2 diabetes; your doctor will recommend treatment alongside these changes if your blood glucose levels are too high.
Your GP and health centre
Your GP is an important part of your healthcare and will be able to advise you treating your diabetes, refer you to diabetes education and lifestyle courses and medical specialists, where appropriate, and prescribe medication.
Your GP will also be responsible for monitoring your health and ensuring you undergo a number of important diabetes health checks each year. These will include your blood glucose control, blood pressure and cholesterol, amongst others.
When it comes to diet, weight loss is often a primary goal for those with type 2 diabetes. If you are overweight, losing weight can help to improve insulin sensitivity and make diabetes easier to manage.
To achieve weight loss, your diet should be low-calorie, and because type 2 diabetes is a lifetime condition, it is important to have a diet you are happy to commit and stick to.
In the modern world, many of us have become accustomed to eating energy-dense foods, such as bread, rice, pasta and potato-based foods. Whilst these high-energy foods are convenient they’re less good for those who aren’t regularly physically active.
Vegetables (not counting potatoes) are a strong choice because they provide a variety of nutrients whilst having a relatively low calorie count. Because vegetables are a great source of soluble fibre, they also help us to stay full for longer.
If you are at a healthy weight, aim to eat a balanced diet which allows you to keep your blood glucose levels under control.
Diabetes.co.uk’s Low Carb Program, a free 10-week education program which won the Positive Social Impact Award at the Lloyds Bank National Business Awards UK 2016, can help people with type 2 diabetes achieve better blood glucose levels, enable weight loss and reduce dependency on medication.
Physical activity can be particularly effective in controlling blood glucose levels. When our muscles work they take in glucose from the blood, liver and muscles. After the exercise, the body will start replenishing its stores of glucose by steadily taking in available glucose from the blood.
As well as helping to lower blood sugar levels, exercising makes use of the energy we take in from our diet, meaning that if we exercise more and don’t increase calorie intake, we’re then in a better position to lose weight.
Other lifestyle changes
In addition to diet and physical activity, other lifestyle adjustments such as reducing intake of alcohol and quitting smoking will also help your diabetes and general health.