Diabetes: Managing Your Condition

Nutrition and exercise to control diabetes

Nutrition and exercise to control diabetes

Controlling diabetes is closely linked to diet and lifestyle.

Healthy eating

  • Smart food choices help keep blood sugar, weight, and cholesterol in better control. Focus on fewer calories, and eat less fat (especially saturated fat). Enjoy more fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, and legumes instead.
  • The amounts of fat, carbohydrate (fruits, vegetables, breads and grains) and protein (meat, fish, milk, nuts) you eat depend on your calorie needs and goals for weight control. A healthy diet usually includes 10-20% of daily calories from protein, 30% or less from fat, and the rest from carbohydrates.
  • Always read the labels before trying "low fat," "light," or "no fat" foods. Some of these specially-labeled foods are "dietetic" because they're sugar free. Others are lower in calories. Some mention that they're good for people with diabetes. But many diet foods that use sugar substitutes are high in fat and calories. Words like "light" or "low" can be deceptive. Try to read the fine print!
  • Just one alcoholic beverage on an empty stomach can lower your blood sugar drastically. Sip drinks slowly and always drink alcohol with food in your stomach. Limit yourself to no more that two drinks a day and be careful when consuming brandy, port, and liqueurs, which have high sugar content.
  • Enjoy sweets in moderation: People with diabetes don't have to avoid sugar all together. You can still enjoy a cookie, a piece of cake, or chocolate every now and then. Talk to your health care professional about how to safely incorporate sweets into your diet.


  • Exercise usually lowers blood sugar. It can help insulin work more effectively and improve your health and energy.
  • Ask your doctor about the right kind of exercise for you. Get a checkup if you're starting out, and avoid overdoing it. Gradually increasing your levels of physical activity helps prevent injuries while maintaining your enthusiasm to continue exercising.
  • Check blood sugar levels before and after you exercise. This helps avoid low blood sugar. Monitoring your blood sugar can help determine how different types of activities affect sugar levels.
  • Try walking, swimming, and light weightlifting exercises for physical activity.

The contents of this health site are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition.

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