Tags: Diabetes, DSME, goal setting, healthy eating, healthy habits, healthy living, New Year, portion size, SMART goals
By Annabella He
MGH Dietetic Intern
It’s 2017! At the start of year, you may be making a New Year’s resolution to better manage your diabetes by eating healthier and exercising more. In order to stick to the plan, your New Year’s resolutions should be specific, measurable and reasonable. The following are some specific tips to get you started. Pick one or a couple to work on!
- Cut down on portion size: The amount of food you eat for each meal has a huge impact on your blood glucose and weight control. Having a smaller meal keeps your glucose and insulin levels more stable. Also research shows that lowering total calorie intake helps with long-term weight loss, so portion control is the key. Use food labels and measuring cups to accurately gauge your intake.
- Eat breakfast: Have a filling breakfast to keep yourself full for longer. Eating breakfast reduces your hunger levels later in the day. A balanced breakfast like whole-wheat cereal with low fat milk and nuts, or scrambled egg with some vegetables are good options. Instead of topping the toast with butter, try avocado to make it tasty and healthy.
- Make a balanced plate: Fill half plate with fruits and vegetables, especially brightly colored ones, ¼ plate protein, ¼ plate starch.
- Eat more non-starchy vegetables: We always say eat more vegetables, but the kinds of vegetables we eat also matter. Starchy vegetables like corn, green peas, winter squash and potatoes are high in carbohydrate. Eating too much of those will increase your blood sugar, so it’s important to moderate the portion size of these vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables like carrots, broccoli, salad greens and beets contain little or no carbohydrate. Eating more of those vegetables not only stabilize your blood sugar level, but also help fill you up without gaining much weight.
- Choose healthy snacks: It’s okay to have some snacks throughout the day to keep your blood sugar stable and promote energy levels. Again, make sure to control the portion size and make healthy choices. Here are some examples of healthy snacks: whole fruits, cut vegetables, almonds, Greek yogurt and low-fat popcorn.
- Learn a new healthy recipe every month: Search for new healthy recipes and practice. Cooking at home is fun and it saves money. You are in full control of what’s in your meal. Also, by December, you will master cooking 12 recipes. How exciting is that?!
- Drink more water: The daily recommendation is 8 cups of water or other non-caffeinated beverages. Drinking enough water helps you stay hydrated and energetic. Sometimes you may feel hungry, but actually you are dehydrated. Drinking water helps you to not get hunger and thirst confused.
- Go to bed early and get enough sleep: Going to bed early keeps you from eating too late at night. Also, getting a good night sleep helps your body process carbohydrate and has a positive effect on weight control.
- Exercise more: Try different types of exercise such as walking, running, hiking, yoga or a group class at the gym. Get a pedometer or use phone app to record your steps while walking. Recording your steps can motivate you to try to reach a higher goal by walking more miles.
- Stay up to date with medical appointments: See your provider regularly to make sure everything is going well with your diabetes and that you are up to date on your health screenings (including eye exams).
Content reviewed by Melanie Pearsall, RD, CDE
Tags: change, DSME, goal setting, motivation, prevention, public health week, SMART goals, weight loss
By Sandy O’Keefe
Program Manager, Chronic Disease Education
Question: How many Diabetes educators does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: One, but the light bulb really has to want to change.
How many times have you vowed to lose weight or start running only to have it fall to the wayside a few days later? You may blame it on lack of willpower, not having enough time, etc., but it’s time to give yourself a break; it happens to many of us! However, if you fine tune action plan a bit, you can set yourself up for success.
First you need to figure out what motivates you to make changes in your life. This needs to be a powerful motivator— saying something like “I want to look better” isn’t strong enough to hold your attention. Instead, “I want to lose weight so I can walk my daughter down the aisle at her wedding next May” or “so I can spend time laughing and playing tag with my children outside this summer” are examples of motivators that will help you emotionally stay attached and focused on your goals. Equally important, this motivator must come from you personally. It’s not enough to say, “I am doing this so my wife stops nagging me to lose weight.” Keep digging inside yourself until you find your own personal motivator, then write it down and keep it somewhere you can read it any time you need to remind yourself why you’re making this change.
In order to be successful at behavior change, the focus should be on immediate attainable goals rather than long term results. For example, when you say that you want to lose weight you are defining what you hope to experience in the future. Weight loss is the outcome you hope to achieve in the long run, but it’s not the goal. Think about the steps you will need to take before you experience the outcome. For example, maybe you need to invest in a pair of sneakers or join a gym. These are things that you can do in the immediate future to get started.
Goals should always be “S.M.A.R.T.” This is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Reasonable and Time-based. A S.M.A.R.T. goal might be, “I will buy a new pair of running sneakers from Sally’s Sneakers on Sunday May 6, 2012.” Consider what might get in the way of this goal and adjust as needed. Again, I suggest writing your goal down and having it in a place where you can see it to remind yourself.
From time to time assess the success you’ve had with each goal. You might say to yourself: “last week my goal was to buy a pair of sneakers— how successful was I with this goal?” Goals may seem small at first, but each one builds upon the success of the one before it. As they link together, you’ll start to believe, “hey, maybe I can stick to my plan this time!”
You may want to ask a friend or family member to be a support person for you to help you stay on track. Having a health coach is also a great way to set a clear S.M.A.R.T action plan. Coaches aid you in identifying those strengths you possess that can help you change your behavior. Once you begin to realize that you really do have the power to change, you will be well on your way to making a behavior change that will help you realize your long-term vision.
Photo Credit: Bryan Wintersteen