Even if you’re not among the more than one in 10 Australians with prediabetes, it’s smart to try to keep your blood-sugar level steady.
Spikes from quickly digested sugar and carbs, plus the crashes that follow, can tank your energy and predispose you to diabetes. If you have the disease, it can do all kinds of damage to your nerves and organs.
Here’s how endocrinologist DR Gregory Dodell, 41, works to prevent the disease he sees in the patients he treats all day.
Scrap the scale.
I don’t get on a scale, and I don’t encourage my patients to weigh themselves. Instead, I focus on behaviours, and weight is not a behaviour – it’s a surrogate marker for changes in behaviour. You can’t wake up and say, I’m going to weigh five kilos less. But you can wake up and say, I’m going to try to take a walk every day or I’m going to try to incorporate more vegetables in my diet; both help to control blood sugar.
Eat what you want,if you really want it.
If I’m in the mood for pasta, I’ll have it. Nutrition shouldn’t be about taking things away. Instead, eating well is about intuition and mindfulness. If I had diabetes, simple carbs like pasta might cause my blood sugar to spike. But you don’t have to cut them out entirely. I argue that people with diabetes can have pasta if they pair it with protein (like chicken), fibre (from vegetables) and some fat (olive oil or cheese), all of which dampen the rise in blood sugar.
Pose, spin, walk.
Being active is important: when you have diabetes, moving around may make your body more sensitive to insulin so that blood sugar enters your cells better. I do yoga, take indoor cycling classes and walk to and from work, about 25 minutes each way. I do it because I enjoy it. I used to run on the treadmill, and 10 minutes in, I’d be miserable. I stopped doing that. I tell patients to do what feels good, not what you think you should do.
Check your internal tracker.
My body processes food pretty well. But if you crash or your blood sugar is high from a meal or a snack like a granola bar, pay attention to your body and make a different behaviour choice next time. We’re so programmed now to listen to external sources about what we should be doing for our health and having trackers for sleep, heart rate and kilojoules. But we have the best tracker ever invented – our bodies.