Does Diabetes have initial symptoms that can be controlled by immediately eating differently?
By Susan K. Manez MS, RD, CDN
Diabetes is a condition that effects millions of Americans. According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2015, 30.3 million Americans or 9.4% of the population had diabetes. Even more alarming is that a whopping 1.5 million more Americans are diagnosed each year, making this a fast-growing problem in our country.
So, what are the initial symptoms of diabetes?
Early symptoms of diabetes include:
- Frequent urination,
- Excessive thirst,
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain,
- Elevated hunger,
- Feeling tired,
- Dry skin,
- Slow healing, and
- Sudden vision changes.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to first see your physician to be evaluated.
Dietary and lifestyle changes that may help you control diabetes
Once you have been diagnosed with diabetes or suspect that you may have diabetes, there are dietary changes that can help get your blood sugar levels better controlled. However, keep in mind that you might need medication depending on the severity of the disease.
Eat at regular intervals.
Avoid skipping meals or going long periods (greater than 4 hours) without eating. By eating at regular times, ideally every 3-4 hours, you can prevent your blood sugars from dropping too low. When blood sugars drop too low, you will feel very hungry and will overeat as a result. This overeating may result in blood sugars spiking too high from the excessive amount consumed in a short period. It may also result in weight gain that can further elevate blood sugars over time. Additionally, you are likely to choose unhealthy food options when too hungry and blood sugars are too low. This can also lead to weight gain and poorly controlled diabetes.
Increase lean protein and fiber.
Aim to consume lean protein and fiber at each meal and in smaller amounts in snacks. Protein and fiber can help stabilize appetite and blood sugar levels and prevent spikes in both. Healthy sources of protein include poultry, fish, low fat dairy, eggs and protein drinks. Fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber but be sure to limit fruit as it is also high in sugar.
It can be particularly helpful to get moving after eating a meal. Taking a short walk or doing some light cardio shortly after eating can help bring blood sugar down to normal levels faster. It can also help you shed more pounds which may result in improved blood sugars.
Always remember that even small changes can add up to big results so do not wait for a diagnosis to get started.