Diabetes Management: How to Make Good Nutrition a Daily Habit

Making healthy habits stick can be a challenge. Often, people will make big goals without putting the necessary steps in place to make them a reality. But when thinking about a new habit, starting with a small change can make it easier to achieve. When it comes to diabetes management, building healthy habits, like good nutrition and exercise, can be especially important and help people with type 2 diabetes manage their condition.

How to Make a Healthy Habit

Habits take time and effort to develop. Research has shown it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form a habit, with 66 days (or over 2 months!) being the average.1  People with diabetes may feel overwhelmed about how to build healthier habits that can help manage their condition, but taking small, easy steps can help them accomplish their goals.

Speaking with a healthcare professional can help arm individuals with important information to guide them when they’re considering new daily habits. It’s also important to take the time to identify any potential hurdles and make a plan for how to clear them. It may require getting additional support from your family, friends or doctor.

Habits aren’t built overnight; it may take time and practice. Once a small habit is achieved and becomes part of a daily routine, keep building on that success by creating another achievable goal. Each small habit can contribute to creating an overall healthier lifestyle. 

Healthy Eating and Exercise Goals

Good nutrition and exercise play a large role in diabetes management but making healthy lifestyle changes doesn’t have to be a hard. 

When it comes to healthy eating, goals should be simple and attainable and taken one step at a time. They should be customized to each individual based on their dietary habits, but small changes can make a big impact, especially if someone is trying to lose or maintain weight, or better control their blood sugar. For example:

  • Beverage Swap: For individuals who drink a lot of sugar-sweetened or caloric beverages, swapping one beverage a day for a glass of water could go a long way. Drinking water instead of a 12-ounce can of soda can save approximately 150 calories and 40 grams of sugar per day – this adds up to 1,050 calories or 280 grams of sugar a week! Once this becomes a habit, you can try swapping two drinks or making a new goal.
  • Eating at Home: Instead of eating out, cooking at home is a great way to save calories (and money!). By cooking at home, people have control of how much added fat, sugar and salt goes into food. Eating with others – like family members – can encourage healthier eating habits as well.
  • Meal/Snack Replacements: Diabetes-specific formulas can be a nutritious alternative to common breakfasts or an easy snack option that can help keep your diabetes control on track. They are designed to help minimize blood sugar spikes, and when used as a meal or snack replacement as part of a diabetes management program, they can help manage blood sugar and weight in people with type 2 diabetes. People with diabetes may incorporate 1 – 2 servings of DSF in daily diet as meal replacement (for people who is overweight), partial meal replacement (for people with normal weight) and as supplement to diet (for people who is underweight).

Exercise doesn’t have to take a huge amount of time or require elaborate equipment. It can start small by making easy adjustments to daily routines to add more movement to the day, such as:

  • Taking the stairs instead of riding the escalator or elevator.
  • Parking at the back of the parking lot versus near the entrance.
  • Walking instead of taking a car.
  • Doing sit ups, squats or arm exercises while watching your favorite TV show.

As each exercise goal is accomplished, continue to add new goals to stay active. Over time, making small goals for healthy eating and exercising can eventually add up to an overall healthier lifestyle and can help people with diabetes learn how to manage their condition.

Reference:

  1. Lally P, et al. Eur J Soc Psychol 2009; https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.674 

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MAL.2020.5265.GLU.1