Controlling Type 2 Diabetes With Lifestyle

By Greatorex, Susan

People who have type 2 diabetes can sometimes control their condition with diet and exercise, and avoid medication or reduce the dose they take. Even if you need medication to help control your diabetes, following a healthy meal plan and getting regular physical activity can help with control.

A healthy lifestyle will help you attain and maintain a healthy weight, manage your blood glucose level, lower blood pressure if you have high blood pressure, reduce stress and improve your mood.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), people with type 2 diabetes need to be aware of their total daily caloric intake. They also need to make sure they get appropriate amounts of carbohydrates, protein and fat, and adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals each day.

Here are healthy eating tips from the ADA:

  • Eat a wide variety of foods each day. Try new foods and eat a variety of foods within each section of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's My Pyramid food plan. Visit the USDA website at for more information.

  • Eat foods that are high in fiber. These include whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

  • Eat less fat. Fats, particularly saturated fats and cholesterol, increase the risk for heart disease. Having type 2 diabetes puts you at greater risk for heart disease.

  • Use less added sugar. You don't have to give up dessert if you have type 2 diabetes, but you should practice moderation. Many sugar-free, low-calorie and low-fat desserts are available.

  • Don’t salt your food. When shopping or eating out, choose foods that are lower in sodium. Most of your daily sodium intake comes from processed foods.

  • Engage in moderate to vigorous physically activity daily. Try to get at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise each day, which can help with weight management and blood sugar control. Your exercise program should include aerobic exercise, activities that increases your heart and breathing rates; strength training; and stretching exercises to increase your flexibility. Check with your health care provider before starting an exercise program.

  • If your doctor has prescribed medications for you to take, it's important to balance the foods you eat with your medications and exercise to help maintain and manage blood sugar levels. Your doctor or dietitian can help you design a meal plan that works best for you and your lifestyle.

Five days of tasty meals

Here's an example of a meal plan for people trying to control their weight or type 2 diabetes. Be sure to consult with your doctor or dietitian for the best meal plan for you:


Breakfast: 2 small blueberry pancakes (1 starch, 1 fat, 1 fruit). Add less than a teaspoon of light tub margarine and 2 tablespoons sugar-free syrup, which don't count.

Mid-morning snack: 2 small tangerines (1 fruit), 1 cup plain fat-free yogurt (1 milk).

Lunch: Chef's salad: lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, onions, red pepper, topped with 1 ounce turkey, 1 hard-cooked egg, 1 ounce low-fat cheddar cheese (3 vegetable, 1 meat). Add 4 crisp bread sticks (2 starch).

Mid-afternoon snack: 3 cups microwave popcorn (1 starch, 1 fat). 1 cup reduced-calorie cranberry juice cocktail (1 fruit).

Dinner: 3-ounce top-grade steak (1 meat) with 1/2 cup steamed spinach, roasted Vidalia onion, carrots, zucchini and red pepper strips (3 vegetable); add 1 teaspoon olive oil. Large slice of bakery whole-grain bread (2 starch).

Evening snack: Sugar-free gelatin with 1 cup raspberries, topped with yogurt (1 fruit).


Breakfast: 1/2 grapefruit, cereal, 1 cup skim milk (1 starch, 1 milk, 1 fruit).

Mid-morning snack: 4-ounce orange juice (1 fruit).

Lunch: Omelet of 1/2 cup egg substitute and 1 ounce low-fat cheese, chopped vegetables (1 meat, 1 vegetable), baked "home-fry" style potatoes with onions (1 starch), 2 slices rye toast (2 starch) with 1 teaspoon reduced fat margarine and 2 teaspoons low-sugar jam.