May 13, 2024

3 healthy habits that make all the difference for diabetes

By Sun Life Staff

You can manage or prevent type 2 diabetes with the help of a few key daily habits. Here’s how.

Daily habits are key to the successful management of type 2 diabetes – and to treating prediabetes.

In fact, “it’s been proven that you can completely eliminate the development of this type of diabetes” with certain healthy habits, according to Dr. Martin Juneau.

Dr. Juneau is a cardiologist and Director of Prevention at the Montreal Heart Institute; he oversees the Institute’s Diabetes Prevention Clinic, sponsored by Sun Life.

Here are his three recommendations.

1. Eat healthy

Your diet plays an important role in managing diabetes.

balanced plate is an excellent way to eat well while staying healthy.

Find a delicious balance

  • Vary your foods: Go for diversity. Choose fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. Favour lean protein and low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
  • Reduce sugar: Limit foods high in refined carbohydrates. Favour complex carbohydrates based on whole grains and legumes.
  • Eat more fibre: Eat fibre-rich foods. This will slow down the absorption of sugar in the blood.
  • Stay hydrated throughout the day.

Make your own meals

This will help you make healthy choices and stave off cravings.

  • Cook at home: By cooking your own meals, you can control the ingredients and the amount of added salt, sugar, and fat.
  • Read food labels carefully: Think about portion size and carbohydrates, sugar, sodium, and saturated fat content.

Drink water

Water is the healthiest drink.

To change things up, you can add a few drops of lemon or lime juice; or try herbal teas.


  • Avoid carbonated and sugary drinks. Even fruit juices with no added sugar naturally contain large amounts of sugar.
  • Limit your alcohol consumption. If you do have a drink, we recommend not doing so on an empty stomach. Don’t drink every day. Limit your consumption to the amount agreed on with your doctor.

2. Get regular exercise

Lack of exercise can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Like most people, you may already want to be more active. Just go for it!

The benefits of exercise in managing diabetes

Regular exercise is essential for preventing and treating type 2 diabetes.

It helps control weight and offers other benefits, even without weight loss:

  • It reduces blood sugar levels,
  • helps manage stress,
  • decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease and
  • may delay the need for medication.

Aim for daily physical activity

If you’re just starting out, ease into it slowly.

You can choose activities that are fun and fit your schedule.

  • Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. This equates to about 30 minutes most days, broken down into 10- or 15-minute sessions.
  • You can walk, swim, skate or play badminton – all excellent aerobic activities.
  • Add muscle-strengthening exercises at least twice a week.

3. Learn to manage your stress

Stress can speed up your heart and raise your blood sugar. It’s important to learn how to manage it.

Try to change how you think and react

We can change the way we see and react to situations to improve our well-being. 

Ask yourself:

  • Are your reactions realistic?
  • Do you express your needs clearly?
  • Do you have a good support network?
  • Do you take time to relax?

Diabetes can affect your mental health; if you feel you need it, seek the help of a specialist.

Managing and coming to terms with diabetes

Discovering that you have diabetes can be stressful. It’s a chronic disease that requires daily changes.

  • Learn more about your disease. Get involved in your treatment. You’ll find it easier to manage your diabetes.
  • Take the time to adapt and change your habits little by little.
  • Seek help if necessary. Health professionals and your loved ones can support you.

These three lifestyle habits will help you better manage your blood sugar levels and prevent the complications of type 2 diabetes.

As a bonus, they’ll help you feel better and give you more energy.

This article is meant to provide general information only. It’s not professional medical advice, or a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

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