Simple steps: Living with type 2 diabetes

Once you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and worked out your treatment options, the next step is learning how to live with it.

And effectively managing type 2 diabetes is crucial.

If you manage your type 2 diabetes well you can reduce the chance of complications, and maybe even reverse it. If you manage it badly, you can put yourself at much greater risk.

To understand how to control type 2 diabetes, it’s important to know:





Type 2 diabetes diet

If you want to control your type 2 diabetes effectively, you must have a good type 2 diabetes diet. That’s because:

  • diabetes is a metabolic disease that centres on your blood glucose level.
  • being overweight is a high-risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

By eating healthy foods and maintaining a good diet, you can help maintain stable blood glucose levels and an ideal body weight.

You should try to eat:

  • complex carbohydrates – Complex carbohydrates are long strings of sugar molecules that contain more nutrients than simple carbohydrates and take longer to digest. Because they take longer to digest, they provide a more steady supply of energy. They include brown rice, whole wheat, oatmeal quinoa, vegetables, beans, lentils and fruits.
  • Low glycemic index (GI) foods – A food’s GI score is an internationally standardised measure of how quickly it can be broken down and absorbed into your body. By avoiding high GI foods, you can avoid sudden, sharp increases in your blood glucose level.
  • Fats – Fats don’t have a direct effect on your blood glucose level. However, they may slow down your carbohydrate absorption. Again, this will help you avoid sudden increases in your blood glucose level.
  • Proteins - Proteins are a great source of energy and have little impact on your blood glucose level. They can help you feel more full after eating, reduce your sugar craving, and help keep your blood glucose level stable. High protein food includes nuts, beans, pulses, eggs, dairy, seafood, peas, tofu, poultry and lean meats.

Type 2 diabetes food list

To build a great type 2 diabetes diet, you need to know what’s good to eat and what will help control your type 2 diabetes

Here are some of the foods you should aim to include:

  • Leafy greens – Non-starchy greens like spinach, kale and cabbage add volume and fiber to your plate. And they don’t have a lot of calories.
  • Salmon Salmon is low in carbohydrates and full of flavour. Salmon is also rich in omega-3 which has been suggested to improve digestion and reduce the risk of diabetes (though this isn’t proven).
  • Quinoa – Though technically a seed, quinoa is classified as a whole grain. And compared to other grains it packs much more fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. As a low GI food, it can help keep your blood glucose level stable.
  • Broccoli – Broccoli is loaded with vitamin C, potassium and fiber. It’s also low in starch, low in carbohydrates and filling, making it a perfect vegetable to include in your type 2 diabetes diet. And studies have found that a compound in broccoli (sulforaphane) can even reduce blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Nuts – Nuts are low in carbohydrates and high in protein, fiber, magnesium and good fats. Though they do raise your blood sugar level, the increase is usually slow and manageable. And some research has suggested that eating nuts can improve how your body responds to high carbohydrate meals.
  • Lean proteins – Lean proteins are foods that are rich in protein but have low levels of fat (for example chicken and turkey). They’re also good to include in your type 2 diabetes diet because they can help reduce or delay spikes in your blood glucose level.
  • Eggs – Eggs are another great source of protein. And they’re lean protein as well, so are a great addition to your type 2 diabetes diet. However, some studies have shown that eating lots of eggs could increase your type 2 diabetes risk so you should eat them in moderation.

Type 2 diabetes diet foods to avoid

As well as knowing what food is good for you, it’s just as important to know what type 2 diabetes diet foods to avoid.

As a general rule, you should avoid foods high in fat, sugar, cholesterol or carbohydrates. And you should limit foods that are high in saturated fat, trans fat or added sugar.

Here’s an example type 2 diabetes food list you should avoid or limit:

  • Rice, pasta and white bread.
  • Fatty cuts of lamb or pork.
  • French fries and fried chicken.
  • Candy, cookies, baked goods, and ice cream.
  • Full sugar fruit juice and soft drinks.
  • Table sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup and molasses.
  • Butter, ghee and cheese.
  • Margarine, peanut butter and creamers.
  • Dried fruit.

Indian diet plan for diabetes type 2

There’s a common misconception that Indian meals generally aren’t good for type 2 diabetics – They’re seen as having a high amount of carbohydrates or sugar, both of which you should limit or avoid if you want to effectively control your type 2 diabetes.

However, the truth is there are lots of Indian foods you can eat which will still keep your blood glucose level in control.

To give you some ideas, here’s an example Indian diet plan for diabetes type 2:

Meal Recommendation
Morning tea A cup of tea is a classic way to start the day. Rather than drinking chai though, try plain black tea, green tea or even warm water.
Breakfast Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Thankfully, you also have lots of diabetes-friendly breakfast meal options. For a light option, try an omelette, a bowl of fruit or a fresh smoothie. Whole grain wheat bread, upma, poha, ragi idli and dosa are also healthy alternatives. You can even have vegetable stuffed chapatis, as long as you fry them in a minimal amount of oil or butter.
Mid-morning snack If you’re looking for a mid-morning snack, aim for something that has a low GI. Healthy nut bars and seeds are a great option to satisfy your cravings and keep your blood glucose level under control.
Lunch For lunch, consider a good serving of well-cooked, low-carb vegetables. Moong dal is a rich source of protein and a perfect option for a side dish. Again, you can accompany your meal with 1 or 2 chapatis as long as you fry them in a minimal amount of oil or butter.
Dinner When planning dinner, aim for low fat or low carb foods such as soup, leafy greens or tofu. If you’re a non-vegetarian, grilled fish or chicken can both be good options.

These are just some of the meals available to you that you can include in your type 2 diabetes Indian diet plan. If you’d like more options, speak to a nutritionist – They can give you some great ideas!

Alcohol and diabetes type 2

The typical advice for drinking alcohol is to only ever drink in moderation. The same is generally true for type 2 diabetics.

You can still drink alcohol with diabetes type 2. However, you shouldn’t drink too much, and you should understand that alcohol will affect your blood sugar level.

Alcohol often has a lot of sugar in it, and that may raise your blood sugar level. But if you drink alcohol on an empty stomach or while taking certain diabetic medications, your blood sugar level could decrease.

So if you’re planning to drink alcohol, remember to drink only a moderate amount and check your blood sugar level.

It’s also a good idea to consult with your doctor – They’ll be able to review your personal medical history and provide tailored advice on alcohol.


Exercise and type 2 diabetes

As a type 2 diabetic, it’s important to exercise regularly. This is because exercise boosts insulin activity, reduces blood pressure and helps manage weight. It also helps prevent cardiac-related complications such as heart attack and stroke.

Most health organisations recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise every week. This may sound like a lot, but break it down and spread it across your week and it’s much easier to do.

Here are some tips to help you exercise with type 2 diabetes:

  • Make your exercise routine – The best way to ensure you exercise regularly is to build your exercise sessions into your routine. When your exercise is part of your routine, you’re more likely to stick to it and keep it up.
  • Plan your exercise around your meals – When you eat, your blood glucose level generally goes up. When you exercise, your blood glucose level typically goes down. Exercising soon after you eat (within roughly 30 minutes) can help keep your blood glucose level stable.
  • Check your blood glucose level regularly – Exercise affects different people’s blood glucose level differently. The length and intensity of your workout may also have an effect. So it’s a good idea to monitor your blood glucose level regularly and make sure it’s staying at a suitable level. Check it before a workout, during and after.
  • Prepare snacks – Because exercise can make your blood glucose level drop, you may need to bring it back up. Having a snack prepared and ready can help you prevent hypoglycemia.
  • Consult your doctor – Before you start a new exercise regime, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor. They’ll be able to review your exercise plan and provide advice to help ensure it’s right for you. They’ll also be able to give guidance on good pre-workout meals, snacks and medication.

Yoga and diabetes type 2

Practising yoga for diabetes type 2 is a great way to take on a broad range of exercise – Yoga can potentially provide all four types of workout (strength, aerobic, balance and flexibility).

Yoga can also help reduce stress and blood pressure and improve circulation and blood flow. This means that as well as helping you lose weight, yoga can potentially also help improve how your body responds to insulin.

So when planning out your exercise routine, you should definitely consider yoga.


Sleep and type 2 diabetes

Sleep can have a significant impact on your blood glucose level. And how well you control your blood glucose can have a big effect on the quality of your sleep.

If your blood glucose level is too high or low overnight, you may feel tired and sluggish the next day. And if you sleep poorly and are tired, studies have shown your body can’t break down and process sugar as efficiently and your blood glucose level will increase.

So, as a type 2 diabetic, you should do all you can to get a good night’s sleep.

Here are some tips to help you try and sleep better:

  • Monitor your blood glucose level and keep it in control as much as possible.
  • Make sure you have a comfortable place to sleep.
  • Keep your sleeping area dark and quiet.
  • Ensure your room is not too cold or too hot and has good ventilation.
  • Follow a regular bedtime routine.
  • Exercise during the day, not late at night.
  • Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks late in the evening.
  • Try not to spend too much time watching a screen or digital device before bed.
  • Aim to wind down and clear your mind as you approach bedtime.

Travelling with type 2 diabetes

Travel can be fun and exciting – Even if you’re a type 2 diabetic.

Travelling with type 2 diabetes simply means you need to put in a little more time, planning and preparation before you hit the road. This will help you avoid delayed or missed meals, skipped or misplaced medications and unnecessary stress.

Here are some tips to ensure travelling with type 2 diabetes remains fun:

  • Before setting off, pay a visit to your doctor – It’s a good idea to get a check-up and make sure you’re fit to travel.
  • Pack and prepare your medications – If you’re going to be on the move for a while, make sure you have easy access to your medicine and that you’ve left nothing important behind. Consider taking diabetes essentials in a purse or handbag.
  • Plan food and snacks – Check what meals are available both at your destination and on the way to make sure you’ll have the right kind of food when you need it. If it’s an option, consider ordering in advance. And carry healthy snacks with you, like fruit, raw veggies and nuts.
  • Check your blood glucose level more often – Travelling can be tiring. Your blood glucose level may change more than you expect. Check it more regularly to make sure you know where it’s at and can keep it stable.
  • Consider time zones – If you’re taking medication at set times, remember to adjust your schedule if you change time zones.
  • Take a doctor’s letter and an extra copy – If you have medical supplies you need to travel with, it can be easier to get them through customs if you’re able to provide documents from your doctor.

What now - Live well, and know your low and high sugar level symptoms

Living with type 2 diabetes is tough. But understanding your disease, learning to recognise your symptoms and knowing how to treat them can make things easier.

It will also help you reduce your risk and improve your chances of avoiding complications.

And it starts with:

Diabetes tech is also worth exploring, as you may find something that helps make your life easier – For example, continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) allow diabetics to track their blood glucose levels regularly throughout the day, providing more data (and without the finger pricks).

And it’s a great idea to find and connect with other type 2 diabetics. When you’re part of a type 2 diabetes community, you have access to a group of people that can:

  • increase your type 2 diabetes knowledge.
  • share recipes, workout plans, travel tips, diabetes technology insights and more.
  • give you an understanding ear.
  • offer advice.
  • and remind you that you’re not alone.

To take the first step and connect with other type 2 diabetics, check out our collection of Your Stories.

And when you’re ready, please Share Your Story with us as well!

Want to keep up with the latest news and stories?

Sign up and get the latest updates straight to your inbox.
Thanks for signing up with us! We look forward to having you in our community!
Oops! Something went wrong, have you filled in all your details correctly?