ARTICLE – I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes back in 2004 but I have never taken insulin injections or other meds for it. With a few modifications to my lifestyle and diet, I have been able to get into the pre-diabetes range and stay there for the past 17 years. Here are some tips and tricks using tech, gadgets, and diet hacks that I use to manage my type 2 diabetes.
Before I share my tips and tricks for managing type 2 diabetes, I want to make it clear that I am not a physician and I do not claim to know everything that there is to know about diabetes. The things that I am sharing in this article work for me. I can not promise that they will work for you, so don’t blame me if they don’t. Also do not stop taking your doctor prescribed medicines without talking to your doctor first. With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get right to the tips and tricks. If you want to know more about type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance, skip to the bottom of this article for a quick overview.
Update 1/17/22 – Check out my latest dated updates sprinkled within this article and a wrap-up update at the bottom of the post.
Tip #1 Check your blood glucose with a meter or a CGM (continuous glucose monitor)
The absolute best gadget that you can need to track your type 2 diabetes is a blood glucose meter. This device will tell you what your blood glucose is at any given time. Buy yourself an inexpensive meter from Amazon or Walmart and check your blood (with a relatively painless finger stick) often.
The best time to check your blood glucose level is first thing in the morning after you wake up. If you don’t have diabetes or insulin resistance, your fasting glucose (after 12hrs of not eating) should be under 100.
The next best time(s) to check your blood glucose level is before you eat and then 1hr and 2hrs after you eat. Why? Because these readings will let you know how certain foods can cause your blood glucose to spike. This brings me to tip #2.
Regular finger stick blood glucose meters work just fine, but if you want to truly track your blood glucose levels, a continuous glucose monitor is a game-changer – at least it was for me. I’ve been using the Freestyle Libre 14-day CGM for months now and it’s a super easy way to track my blood sugars.
Unlike traditional blood glucose meters which require a manual finger stick for a blood drop, the Freestyle Libre lets you use your phone to scan the sensor which is taking readings automatically in the background. And with the Dexcom G6 CGM, it’s all automatic, so you don’t even have to use your phone to scan the sensor. So instead of just knowing what your blood sugar was when you did a manual finger stick 3 times in one day, you’ll see a full graph of your blood sugar levels throughout the day. This will let you associate spikes with certain foods, exercise, etc.
The LEVELS metabolic health tracker is even more amazing because it makes it super easy to see how foods influence your blood sugar levels. It lets you collect info about certain foods and even run your own experiments.
Tip #2 Cut way back on the number of carbs that you eat
Carbohydrates are the enemy of diabetics. They are one of the main causes of blood sugar spikes. Yes, other things can cause a spike like stress and illnesses, but carbs are the biggy and it’s an easy fix. I say easy because all you have to do is stop eating so many carbs. I know that can be easier said than done because sugar/carbs are addictive and it’s tough to quit cold turkey.
When I first found out that I was diabetic, I immediately stopped drinking sugary sodas and switched to Diet Coke. That made a huge difference for me. But, I stopped drinking Diet Cokes a few years ago due to the artificial sweeteners that are in them. These days, I drink Bubly, Waterloo, and LaCroix flavored seltzer water which have 0 calories or sweeteners in them. I add a few drops of liquid stevia sweetener to them and they taste awesome (to me) and I don’t miss regular sodas at all.
I have also stopped eating potato chips with my sandwiches. This was a tough one because I enjoy salty crunchy chips with my lunches. But I found that pork rinds are a great alternative. I didn’t care for pork rinds at first, but now I love them and enjoy trying different brands and flavors. Pork rinds have zero carbs, so you can have salty crunchy “chips” without glucose spikes that go with them. My current favorites are the generic store brands of plain pork rinds. I like them better than the popular Mac’s brand.
Another change I made was trading out bread with high carbs to lower carb breads and wraps. My current favorites are Aunt Millie’s Live Carb Smart 5-seed bread which has 1 carb per slice and Mission’s Carb Balance wraps which only have 4 net carbs per wrap. I find both of these at my local Walmart.
Update 1/17/22 – Also, check out the wheat version of Carb Balance wraps. They are only 3 net carbs per wrap. I mainly use them as a “pizza crust” for homemade mini pizzas.
For breakfast, I ditched carby cereals and sugary protein bars for bars from Perfect Keto and Ketobar.com. I love love love everything from Perfect Keto. Just thinking about their peanut butter chocolate chip bar makes me want to go upstairs and get one right now. They sell several flavors like cinnamon roll, almond butter brownie, birthday cake, and more. But the peanut butter chocolate chip bars are flat out AMAZING. They taste exactly like the peanut butter fudge that my mom used to make when I was a kid. AND, they don’t spike my blood sugar at all.
If you check your grocery store for Keto friendly foods, you’ll be able to find a lot of alternatives for treats that can keep you satisfied without elevating your blood sugar. Perfect Keto also offers a great selection of cookies that taste fantastic to me. Swapping out regular sugary snacks for lower carb and Keto versions is probably the easiest thing you can do to improve your blood glucose levels.
Update 1/17/22 – My favorite very low-carb/Keto meal replacement shakes are from Keto Chow. I replace one to two lunches every week with one of these shakes. They a complete nutritious meal that is delicious. My favorite flavors are chocolate, pistachio, and pumpkin spice but I like all of them except mocha.
Tip #3 My favorite YouTube channels for Keto and low carb recipes
If you want to learn more about Keto and low carb eating, you need to check out some of my favorite YouTube channels. These channels have a lot of excellent info and 100’s of easy to make recipes that will let you easily ditch carbs without feeling deprived.
I learned about the Chaffle from Serious Keto, which led to a review of the Dash mini waffle maker which is a staple of many low-carb fans.
I also learned about chia seed pudding which is a delicious and very easy to make chocolate (or almost any flavor) pudding that you can make that doesn’t raise my blood sugar. I just made a batch this morning that I’ll have as a treat tonight. Here’s a quick recipe.
Chia seed chocolate pudding
2 T of chia seed
1 t of cocoa powder
1/2 C of unsweetened almond milk
1 pinch of salt
1 T of heavy cream
2 packets of no calorie sweetener like Stevia or Splenda
Put all the ingredients in a small jar, stir everything up, put the lid on the jar, put it in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 10hrs or so. Take it out, put some Redi Whip on top and enjoy!
Tip #4 Eat your dessert immediately after your meal
I eat low carb all week, but I’m not a robot. I still love cheeseburgers, fries, pizza, cakes, pies, ice cream, etc. For that reason, I have a cheat day each week which is usually on Saturday. We usually have one meal that is fast food followed up by a dessert. I have found that if I’m going to be “bad”, it’s best if I eat it all at the same time. That means that I eat dessert right after the meal. I don’t wait a few hours and then eat the dessert. Eating the meal and then the dessert later means that I’ll have 2 sugar spikes. One from the meal and then another one later with the dessert.
Tip #5 Exercise after eating a high carb meal and don’t snack
An even better tip is to follow up a high carb meal with some exercise. Don’t groan, it’s really not that hard. If you eat something that you know is going to spike your blood sugar, go for a 15 minute walk after you’re done eating. I’ve done some experiments and have noticed that eating the same exact foods with a walk immediately afterward results in a blood glucose reading of 50 points less than when I don’t walk. That’s a big difference. I usually walk down to get the mail (.7 miles round trip) or I get on the treadmill. You can also do laps around the house (inside or out).
To go along with this tip, it’s important not to eat a lot of snacks in between meals. It’s best to eat 3 regular meals and some say it’s even better to just eat 1-2 meals a day. I prefer 3 and rarely snack between them. When I do snack, it’s always something very low carb (less than 4 carbs).
Tip #6 Get an Apple Watch or another fitness tracker watch
In addition to a blood glucose meter, another great gadget to have to help you manage type 2 diabetes is a fitness tracker watch. I am rocking a series 6 Apple Watch right now because I really like the way it integrates with my iPhone and iHealth apps. I also love the built-in Activity tracker that lets me keep track of my daily steps, flights of stairs that I’ve climbed, my workouts, hikes, heart rate info, and more. And if you use a Dexcom CGM, it will show you right on the watch face what your current blood sugar level is.
Exercise is incredibly important, but you already know that. For diabetics, it’s super important that you don’t sit all day. Get up and move. I walk for 20 mins 2 times a day on the treadmill M-F. I also do a 20 minute workout 4 times a week on my TotalGym. I know that for me, exercise makes a big difference in how I feel and with my blood glucose readings. I look forward to my walks because I can watch YouTube videos while I do it so that the time flies by. I also look forward to my TotalGym workouts because it’s fun and I like being fit!
Tip #7 Hydration really matters
I was noticing that my blood sugar readings were staying elevated even though I wasn’t eating many carbs. I finally figured out that the reason was that I was dehydrated. So I did what I do… I found a gadget to help me keep track of and increase my water intake.
I ended up buying a 21oz HidrateSpark PRO water bottle for myself for Christmas. I plan to do a full review soon but spoiler alert… so far I really like it a lot.
What is type 2 diabetes and what is insulin resistance?
If you are reading this, you most likely already know about type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. But for people who don’t have this condition and are interested in learning more, I’ll give you a quick overview.
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way the body processes blood sugar (glucose). With type 2 diabetes your pancreas either doesn’t produce enough insulin or your cells don’t respond normally to the insulin which is called insulin resistance.
Diabetes is a silent disease that causes damage to your organs and nerves without you even knowing it’s happening – until things are crazy out of control.
Other than checking your blood glucose levels with a meter, how can you know if you’re a diabetic? Some symptoms include being thirsty all the time, numb and tingling feet, always hungry, blurred vision, very dry skin. If you’re worried that you might be insulin resistant or a diabetic, you can ask your doctor for an A1C blood test which gives a percentage that correlates to an average blood sugar level for the past 3 months or so. It’s a very good indicator of insulin resistance.
Diabetes is a horrible disease. I know this from my own experience with my mom who was a brittle diabetic who had very high and very low readings all the time. She died at age 58 after multiple amputations and strokes. That was MUCH MUCH too young and it could have been avoided if she had been serious about her health. I think that’s why I keep on top of my own health. I’m only 1 year away from being the same age that my mom was when she died and I plan to live many decades longer because I exercise and watch my diet so my own diabetes (pre-diabetes right now) doesn’t get out of control.
I hope these tips and tricks helped!
I originally posted this article in April of 2021. During the time since I posted this, I have gotten even more conscious of what I’m eating and how it affects my blood sugar. Having the Freestyle Libre CGM sensor makes tracking the effects of foods easy and is a huge help. So huge in fact that my last A1C a couple of weeks ago was 5.5! That is below the pre-diabetes range and it’s the first time that my A1C has been that low since I was originally diagnosed back in 2004. I am super proud of myself for getting back to this level and my habits are now part of my everyday life so I will continue to do what needs to be done to stay below the pre-diabetes level.