January is a difficult time to make New Year’s Resolutions. Many of us claim on New Year’s Day that we ‘are going to get fit’ this year or at least ‘do more exercise’. Unfortunately, by now our good intentions are often forgotten.
But when you have diabetes you really SHOULD stick to some of these long-forgotten resolutions. For example, more regular exercise will prompt better blood circulation in your muscles, turn fat into muscle and help keep your blood glucose levels under control. And healthier eating patterns and closer monitoring of your blood glucose levels will help too.
So forget New Year and start these simple Early Spring resolutions NOW!
Resolution 1: I will exercise more
Resolution 2: I will eat more healthily
Resolution 3: I will monitor my blood glucose levels regularly
Resolution 4: I will stop smoking
I WILL EXERCISE MORE!!!
We don’t mean start a 3-mile jog every day! Don’t overdo it – the trick is to start small and build up gradually.
Firstly add a little more activity to your day, every day. Simply getting off the bus one stop earlier and walking the rest of the way, or making more trips up and down stairs is a good start. If the weather has not yet improved enough for you to get out and about, why not try our ‘Gently Does It Exercise Tips’ for a gentle fitness routine at home.
Then next choose an exercise you enjoy, walking, swimming or cycling for example, and add it to your routine. An ideal target is 30 minutes of exercise, three times a week. You may be surprised how soon you feel the benefit.
Always remember, if your diabetes is treated with insulin or tablets, for safety’s sake you should check your blood glucose before and after you exercise. For some extra tips on precautions you should take look at Exercising with diabetes also in this issue.
And finally, as always, before you start any new exercise programme, check its suitability with you diabetes care team or General Practitioner.
I WILL EAT MORE HEALTHILY
Often information about what to eat when you have diabetes seems to start with ‘How to lose weight’. But many people with diabetes don’t need to lose even a few pounds. So if your weight is fine, why resolve to eat more healthily? What can a change in diet mean to you? Well, healthy eating is not just about losing weight, far from it. Plump or slim, your choice of foods can make a real contribution to your long-term health (and the health of your family too). So here are a few mini-resolutions for a healthier diet:
I will cut down on fatty food
Food that is high in fat is high in calories too, but that isn’t all. Animal fats such as butter, fatty meat and full cream dairy products are also high in saturated fat, which can raise your cholesterol level, and that is not good news for your heart.
So, from now on try to use fats sparingly and choose some healthier alternatives such as corn oil, sunflower oil or, even better, monounsaturated fats such as olive oil. You could also try a change to skimmed or semi-skimmed milk and low fat yoghurt or fromage frais instead of cream.
I will use less salt
Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure and in fact many of us would benefit from a bit less salt in our diet.
So why not try using more herbs and spices and use less salt when you cook. You could also try to add less salt at the table and steer clear of very salty foods such as crisps, processed foods and salted meats.
I will eat more starch and fibre
Starchy food is good news, so if you enjoy pasta, rice and potatoes this resolution should be easy to keep.
Make starchy food the main part of your meals. Then add in some foods such as beans, peas, vegetables and fruit. These contain a so-called soluble fibre which slows down the rate at which you digest and absorb sugars in your food, making your blood glucose easier to control.
I WILL MONITOR MY BLOOD GLUCOSE LEVELS REGULARLY
Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, there is now excellent medical evidence to show that good control of your blood glucose can reduce or prevent many of the long-term complications that diabetes can bring.
Regular monitoring can give you the information you need to improve your blood glucose levels. For example, you can learn the effect of the food you eat and the exercise you take. By recording your results in a diary you will be able to see if your blood glucose is always high or low at certain times of day or after a particular activity. Then if necessary your diabetes care team will explain how you can alter your diet or your treatment to achieve your blood glucose targets.
I WILL STOP SMOKING
Finally, this is one resolution you really must keep! When you have diabetes, you already are at a higher risk of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). If you smoke as well, you have an even higher chance of developing this condition, which can lead to angina, heart attack, stroke and circulatory problems. That is why it is vital that you STOP SMOKING NOW.