man-gardeningA new report just came out that provided even more support for the benefits of healthy eating and physical activity for control of diabetes and risks for chronic disease. Physical activity alone is okay but without the consumption of nutrient dense foods and control of overall calories, blood sugar fluctuations and increased risk factors for chronic disease, such as high blood pressure and elevated blood cholesterol levels, may still go unchecked. Furthermore, a healthy diet alone might be enough to help get blood sugar levels within normal ranges, but may not be enough to maintain a healthy weight and a fitness level that is optimal to maintain functional abilities and good health as we age.

But knowing the importance of the need for both nutrition and physical activity has not always translated into healthy lifestyle practices. There may be so many obstacles (or excuses) that prevents individuals living with diabetes from doing what they know they should that they stop confiding in their healthcare providers for fear of being chastised. And, as a registered dietitian, I have counseled people who were apologizing about their food choices before they even told me about what they have been eating. The point that I want to make is that all the research in the world cannot dictate what is the best eating and fitness plan for you.  You are unique, and your diabetes condition is unique to you. What you like to eat and the types of physical activity that you like to do, or can physically do on a regular basis, may be totally different than someone else living with diabetes. Taking time to develop a plan that is right for you and your lifestyle will make up the winning combinations that will make the difference in an hemoglobin A1c that remains within optimal ranges and one that is always elevated at your 3 month check-up. Remember when it comes to your health, the choices are yours!

There are so many ways to get in physical activity, including some that are considered “activities of daily living.” Take, for instance, regular house work. Did you know the cleaning your home can burn off just as many calories as walking around the block? Below is a table of a variety of physical activity options, including activities of daily living, which can help in meeting your fitness needs (1). Choosing a combination of activities that can be done on a regular basis can establish a lifestyle of active living.

Type of Physical Activity (1)

Amount of Calories Expended Per Hour

Dusting

150

Bowling

190

Painting the House

210

Washing/polishing car

230

Dancing

250

Walking, 25 minutes/mile

255

Scrubbing floors

300

Cleaning Windows

300

Raking Leaves

300

Walking, 15 minutes/mile

345

Gardening

390

Biking, 6 minutes/mile

415

Walking down stairs

420

Walking up stairs

800

To improve your nutritional intake without even thinking, eating by the colors of the rainbow is one strategy to guide you to the nutrient dense foods that should make up the bulk of a healthy eating plan. The deeper the color of your vegetables and fruits, the higher the nutrition provided. Having minimally processed foods, as close to their natural state as possible, will also lead you to the types of foods that have the greatest nutrition (2). Making plans to frequent the farmers markets this summer season will not only serve to increase your fruit and vegetable intake from fresh foods in season, but will be a way to increase physical activity as well (3). Also, cutting up your raw vegetable into bit size pieces and adding them to meals and snacks with a low calorie dip or hummus mix can help to boost your overall vegetable intake without having to do any additional cooking. Anything you can do to make healthy eating the easy choice will help create an eating pattern that will work for a lifetime.

And, when it comes to overcoming obstacles to healthy eating and physical activity, my advice is the old saying, “where there is a will, there is a way!” It is my belief that if you really want to get healthier you will. But, it is known that change is a process which requires several steps before action is taken. If you are not active or eating healthy right now, take time to plan for the change that you want for your health.

Follow the three steps as outlined below to develop your winning combination:

1. Assess where you are in your nutrition and physical activity practices and what you need to do to be healthier. Knowing yourself and accepting that you need to change is the first step in creating a personalize nutrition and fitness plan that will meet your health needs.

2. Secure the items needed to support your plan. Whether it means buying healthier foods to cook or obtaining some exercise clothing that you will feel comfortable wearing, taking some initial steps will help in planning for success and will make the experience easier to continue.

3.  Implement your plan and share your successes with others. Social support for the healthy practices that you are doing can be a motivating factor. By sharing what you are doing, you not only will be helping yourself continue, but may actually serve as role modeling for others; thus helping to create a culture of health and wellness for all.

Yvonne is the owner of Y-EAT Right…Nutritional Consultant for Healthy Living, She conducts special workshops to promote healthy nutritional and living behaviors. To find out more about her services email her at: yeatright@aol.com or phone her at (414) 639-5660.

References:

1.) Goldwater, A. (2013). Getting and staying fit. In: Real Life: The Hands-on, Pounds-off Guide, Milwaukee, WI: TOPS Club, Inc.

2.) Greer, Y. (2013). Diabetes and obesity: reducing your health risks. In: Real Life: The Hands-on, Pounds-off Guide, Milwaukee, WI: TOPS Club, Inc.

3.) Farmer’s Market Directory (2015). Dublin, NH: Yankee Publishing, Inc.