Living with Diabetes – Diet and Exercise

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by a deficiency of insulin, a hormone needed to bring glucose from the bloodstream into the cells. As we eat our body breaks down glucose, however, those with type 1 diabetes do not have enough insulin to be able to keep that blood sugar at a normal level.

To be able to help control this, children with T1D need insulin. A healthy meal plan and exercise are key components. Meal planning when you have diabetes does not need to be a chore. You just need to make smart choices and eat balanced meals and enjoy healthy snacks. The more you know about the food you eat, the easier the choices will be.

The “Create your Plate” method was developed by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) which outlines diabetes-friendly combinations to every meal. Many individuals follow a more advanced form of meal planning called carbohydrate counting. This method requires that you count the carbohydrate grams in a meal to calculate the correct dose of insulin.

Along with diet, exercise plays an essential part of well-balanced diabetes control. Get moving! Exercise not only helps your body use insulin better, it also strengthens your heart and bones, improves blood circulation, lowers blood glucose and blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels and relieves stress.

The ADA recommends 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150 minutes of exercise. Remember to avoid a sedentary lifestyle and be sure to get up and moving every 30 minutes of sitting. Strength training is also recommended at least 2 times per week..

Examples of both types of exercise include: walking, running, swimming, dancing, weight machines, resistance bands and calisthenics (using own body weight).

Daily Tips
• Exercise builds stronger bones and muscles, helps you sleep well at night, decreases depression and anxiety, and helps to improve blood sugar control
• It is important for people with Type 1 diabetes to check their blood sugar before, during and after any physical activity! Having a small snack available is important as well!
• Insulin doses may need to be adjusted with increased activity – talk to your diabetes team!
• Exercise can lower your blood glucose levels up to many hours after you exercise by making your body more sensitive to insulin
• Avoid sugary beverages, stick to water. Only have juice to treat hypoglycemia.
• Eat a well- balanced meal, fruits and vegetable as well as plenty of protein.