Get a Head Start on Your Health: 5 Tips to Prevent & Manage Type 2 Diabetes

November 11, 2019

Today, there are 11 million Canadians living with diabetes or pre-diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body either cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it does produce. Changing your lifestyle can be a big step towards managing, as well as preventing type 2 diabetes.

Below are five steps that can help in the management and prevention of type 2 diabetes:

  1. Know your risk factors

Understanding your risk factors is key to managing type 2 diabetes. Many Canadians have at least one risk factor, making it important to assess your risk regularly. Anyone over the age of 40 should be tested for diabetes every three years, while people with one or more risk factors should be tested more frequently.

Some risk factors can be changed with lifestyle adjustments while others like age and family history, cannot be changed. Modifying the risk factors that can be changed, can reduce your risk of developing diabetes or prevent other diabetes-related complications such as heart disease, kidney disease, vision problems, or nerve damage. This is why it is important to work with your doctor, pharmacist, and other members of your health care team to help identify your risks.

Below are some risk factors that can and cannot be changed:

Risk factors you can modify Risk factors you cannot modify
High blood glucose Age
High blood pressure Family history
High blood cholesterol Ethnicity
Overweight Personal risk
Physical inactivity Diabetes complications
Excessive alcohol consumption
  1. Maintain a healthy weight to help control blood glucose, blood pressure and blood fat levels.

In combination with healthy eating and physical activity, managing a healthy weight can have great benefits like:

  1. Improve blood sugar, blood pressure and blood lipids
  2. Reduce the risk of complications such as heart disease and stroke
  3. Improve general well-being and energy levels

Check your healthy weight

You can determine your healthy weight by comparing your height and weight using the Body Mass Index (BMI) method. Visit your local Save-On-Foods pharmacy for a body fat test and BMI calculation.

Check your blood sugars level

Your blood sugar level changes throughout the day. Regular blood sugar monitoring will help manage your diabetes concerns. Using a blood glucose meter can:

  1. Tell you what your blood glucose is at the moment
  2. Help you to understand the impact that food, activity, medication and even stress or illness can have on your results
  3. Determine if you are hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemic (high blood sugar)
  4. Help you and your healthcare provider make adjustments to your diabetes plan.

3. Eat a healthy, balanced diet that is high in fibre and whole grains. Limit processed foods.

  1. Choose whole and less refined foods instead of processed foods, such as choosing a whole fruit versus a fruit juice
  2. Include low-glycemic foods such as legumes, whole grains and vegetables; these foods help control blood sugars and cholesterol levels.
  3. Select unsaturated dietary fats such as olive oil and nuts and seeds.
  4. Main protein sources should include lean animal protein, like fish or chicken, and more plant-based proteins.
  5. Some diets that work well for diabetes management include Mediterranean style, Nordic style, Dash or Vegetarian style diets.

Source: 2018 Clinical Practice Guidelines for Diabetes Care

Working with a Registered Dietitian can help you achieve your blood sugar and weight management goals. Book a free nutrition tour at:

We have a great library of healthy recipes if you need to find some healthy eating inspiration! Try some of our favourites like:

  1. Get regular physical activity

In addition to eating healthy, being physically active plays an important role in managing diabetes. One of its main contributions is in helping you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. And a healthy weight improves blood glucose (sugar) control, blood pressure, and cholesterol, and it reduces the risk of developing diabetes complications such as heart disease and stroke.

Regular physical activity also improves the body’s sensitivity to insulin and helps manage blood glucose levels, which is very important to people with diabetes.

Getting Started

  • If you haven’t been active for a while, you should talk with your doctor before starting any exercise program more strenuous than brisk walking.
  • Make sure you have the proper footwear for the activity you are planning to engage in and that they fit properly.
  • When you are engaging in physical activity, wear MedicAlert® jewelry that indicates you have diabetes.
  • Carry some form of fast-acting carbohydrate with you in the event that your blood sugar drops too low (hypoglycemia) and you need to treat it. Good options include glucose tablets or Life Savers®. If you have type 1 diabetes, speak with your diabetes care team about ways of reducing your risk of hypoglycemia.
  • If you take insulin or a medication that increases insulin levels, test your blood glucose before, during, and for many hours after you finish exercising to learn how the activity affects your blood sugar levels.

How Much Exercise Should You Do? 

Your goal should be to work up to 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every week. You may start with as little as five to 10 minutes a day and increase gradually. Increase your total activity in sessions of at least 10 minutes each until you reach your goal. When you are ready, and if you are able, you can add two to three sessions of resistance exercises to your weekly activity program.

Interval training can improve your fitness level and may lower your risk of hypoglycemia. If you are considering interval training, speak with your healthcare provider or an exercise specialist first.

If you cannot reach your goals, doing smaller amounts of activity can still have some health benefits.

Support from our Save-On-Foods Pharmacist:

About 1 in 3 Canadians have diabetes or pre-diabetes, and half of those with pre-diabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes if no actions are taken to modify risk factors. See our Save-On-Foods pharmacist and receive:

  1. Personalized risk assessment
  2. Blood glucose test*
  3. Preventative lifestyle tips
  4. Set up plans and goals
  5. Medication check-up

Click here for other pharmacy services from Save-On-Foods.