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Living Well With Diabetes!

When you have diabetes, your life may become very focused on what you’re eating, how much activity you’re getting, and what your blood sugar is at certain times of the day.

By: Kelly Atyeo, B.A.Sc., M.H.Sc., P.H.Ec.

Sometimes it may feel as if you’re being controlled by your condition…however, by focusing on a few key lifestyle tips you can live well with diabetes and also help others prevent the condition. 

Type 2 Diabetes   

This is a form of diabetes where the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (a hormone that controls blood sugar) or the body does not use it properly.1 The result is an increase in blood sugar after a meal. Managing your blood sugar is extremely important to avoid serious complications such as: heart attack, kidney failure, stroke and blindness.1 

Prevention & Treatment 

Both the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes include the two complementary lifestyle factors that should always go hand in hand: participating in physical activity and following a healthy, balanced diet. 

Physical Activity

Getting active is one of the best ways that you can prevent and manage diabetes.2 The Canadian Diabetes Association recommends 150 minutes of aerobic exercise and 3 sessions of resistance training per week.2

Aerobic Exercise: This type of exercise is also known as “cardio”. It is when you are getting your heart rate to increase. This includes participating in activities like: running, walking, cycling, swimming or even dancing.3

Resistance Training: This type of exercise is sometimes thought of as “weight-training”.  It’s true – resistance training can be lifting weights at the gym, but it could also be as simple as doing push-ups or even carrying groceries home from the store.3

Healthy Diet 

When you live with diabetes – a common phrase you’ll hear is “Watch what you eat”, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it too. 

Your body breaks down the food you eat into smaller components that are absorbed into the blood stream and then transferred to your cells to use as energy. Sugar is a great source of energy - but if it builds up in the blood stream it can result in serious health problems

When you have diabetes, you must monitor your blood sugar levels very closely – consult with your doctor about how often to check.4

Carbohydrates: Living with type 2 diabetes, or preventing it, doesn’t mean you have to give up eating carbohydrates. It’s choosing the right “kind” of carbohydrates. Choose whole grains and non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, spinach and kale.5,6 These options contain fibre and other essential nutrients important for good health.5,6 Fibre is amazing because it makes you feel full for longer after a meal and can help with weight maintenance, which is important for people preventing or managing diabetes.7

Protein: High protein foods are great to include at every meal. They keep you feeling full for longer and slow down the digestive process. Lean meat like chicken doesn’t contain carbohydrates – so they do not raise blood sugar levels as quickly.8

Fat: In general, avoiding saturated fats and trans fats is recommended. Healthy fats added into the diet in moderation can prevent heart disease and other health conditions. Healthy fats are found in salmon, seeds, nuts and oils.

Choose Meals with Chicken

Below are some wonderful diabetes friendly meal ideas from breakfast to dinner using chicken that are good for your blood sugar & taste buds too.

Breakfast – Your cells need fuel in the morning to start your day – so managing your blood sugar starts at breakfast. This recipe provides a protein punch and is low in carbohydrates. Pair it with one slice of whole grain bread and you have your meal! 

LunchThis meal is already set for you…no need to add anything to this salad. The flavours are amazing and you get your protein and your fibre.

Dinner – Diabetes-friendly drumsticks may be the recipe calling your name. You can always pair this recipe with a nice salad, grilled vegetables or sautéed greens.


Some additional delicious & diabetes-friendly recipes include:

Eat Healthy, Get Active & Enjoy Life! Whether you’re preventing or managing diabetes – the same rules apply – Eat Healthy, Get Active and Enjoy Life! Consult a health care professional (doctor, registered dietitian etc.) if you’d like to discuss preventing diabetes further and to help get you started with an in-depth nutrition and physical activity plan. 


  1. Canadian Diabetes Association. (2014). What is diabetes? Retrieved June 30th, 2014, from http://www.diabetes.ca/about-diabetes/what-is-diabetes

  2. Canadian Diabetes Association. (2014). Exercise. Retrieved June 30th, 2014, from http://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/healthy-living-resources/exercise

  3. Canadian Diabetes Association. (2008). Physical Activity and exercise. Retrieved June 30th, 2014, from http://www.diabetes.ca/CDA/media/documents/clinical-practice-and-education/professional-resources/2008-physical-activity-exercise.pdf

  4. Medline Plus. (2014). Type 2 diabetes. Retrieved June 30th, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000313.htm

  5. American Diabetes Association. (2014). Non-Starchy Vegetables. Retrieved June 30th, 2014, from http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/making-healthy-food-choices/non-starchy-vegetables.html

  6. American Diabetes Association. (2014). Grains & Starchy Vegetables. Retrieved June 30th, 2014, from http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/making-healthy-food-choices/grains-and-starchy-vegetables.html

  7. Canadian Diabetes Association. (2014). Fibre. Retrieved June 30th, 2014, from http://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/healthy-living-resources/diet-nutrition/fibre

  8. Diabetes Action: Research & Education Foundation. (2014). Food & Diet. Retrieved June 30th, 2014, from http://www.diabetesaction.org/site/PageServer?pagename=tip_food_diet

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