Modifying Lifestyle for the Better

Poor lifestyle usually leads to type 2 diabetes and a healthy lifestyle helps you return to normalcy by controlling diabetes. Diabetes is a lifelong disorder that affects every part of your life, from eating and exercising to planning a vacation. However, careful planning of lifestyle helps monitor and modify the impact of diabetes on your day-to-day life ahead. In this article, we will outline lifestyle modifications that can help combat diabetes.

How to start?

If you have type 1 diabetes, get started with a simple 6-step regime.

  • Plan your food timings and eat the same amount of carbohydrate per meal; try counting the carbohydrates, as discussed in the article titled ‘Basics of Nutrition’

  • Avoid consuming fizzy or soft drinks; substitute fruit juices with fruits

  • Time your insulin shots with your meals to ensure that sugar levels are in control

  • Learn to manage hypoglycaemia (low sugar levels); you can identify the situation when you sweat profusely, shiver and experience sudden weakness or dizzy episodes

  • Learn to monitor your intake of food, insulin and activity, as they impact your sugar levels

  • Eat a healthy night-time snack

Type 2 diabetes usually develops because of the imbalance between your food intake and the usage pattern. Too little insulin may result in an increase in blood sugar levels, which in turn may lead to several complications.

To avoid the above events, let us learn a 5-step regime.

  • Try losing weight by changing your eating pattern and activity levels

  • Avoid consuming fizzy or soft drinks; substitute fruit juices with fruits

  • Have many small meals per day instead of a few large meals

  • Add more fibre in your food choices by including whole wheat bread, whole rice, brown rice or full cereals instead of finely processed cereals

  • Exercise regularly

Intensive lifestyle changes

A clinical study has established the following tips for an effective lifestyle change:

  • Avoid fats

    • Learn how to include good fats in your diet

    • Eat high-fat foods less often and in smaller portions, and substitute with healthy fats in cooking

  • Exercise

    • Include 150 minutes of exercise per week

    • Brisk walk, jog, climb up the stairs or do a physical activity in every opportunity

  • Learn balancing calories

    • For this, you should develop a 2-pronged approach 

  • Take charge

    • Identify negative triggers that may lead you to eat more or skip exercise

    • Avoid social pressures to overeat or skip exercise

  • Stay stress free


Staying active is a major lifestyle change. Any type of physical activity helps lower glucose levels.

Physical activities you can try include

  • Aerobic activity

  • Being active throughout the day

  • Strength training (lifting weights or using resistance bands)

  • Flexibility exercises (stretching and yoga)

Aerobic activity
1. Start with a short span of activity for 5 to 10 minutes, if you have just started being active.
2. Try a quick walk, jog or quick cycling routine.
3. Go for a swim or a dance class.

Being active
Try moving your muscles throughout the day instead of a fixed period. You can try a few of the following:
1. Walk instead of driving.
2. Get off the bus a stop before your destination and walk the rest of the way.
3. Work in the garden or wash your car.
4. Play actively with kids.
5. Walk around while talking on the phone.
6. Park at the far end of the lot and walk.
7. Aim to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.

Stretching with yoga

A study has shown that yoga increases the lean muscle mass without changing the weight, improves insulin use, boosts immunity and reduces stress. Try yoga practices such as makarasana and shavasana and other such asanas under the guidance of an instructor.

Tracking your lifestyle changes

Now that we have learnt how lifestyle can be changed for the better, let us learn how to sustain it for a longer period.

  • Be accountable: Track your progress; identify and analyse how far you have achieved your goals on weight, food intake and activity

  • Stay positive: Find people who keep you motivated and help you in the progress of your lifestyle change

  • Identify risk: Identify situations where you may be at a high risk to fall back in diet, exercise or other regimes


  • Issued in public interest by Novartis

  • “Always consult your doctor for any medical advice”

  • “The information contained here is not to be used for treatment purpose or for diagnosis of health problems or as a substitute to expert medical advice. Please consult your doctor for any health related problems or queries that you may have. Although great care has been taken in computing and checking the information, Novartis is not responsible or liable in any way for any errors, omissions or inaccuracies in or otherwise howsoever for any consequences arising there from"