Duke Medicine HealthLine
Published: Aug. 16, 2007
Updated: May 19, 2010
To say that changing lifestyle habits is hard is something of an understatement -- it’s closer to say that lifestyle modification is downright contrary to human nature. For women, the challenge is often compounded.
“Women are the master schedulers,” says Duke diabetes educator Jan Nicollerat. “They have to manage their household, their jobs, their kids, what their families are eating.”
Women with diabetes can develop what Nicollerat calls disordered eating. “When they’re told they have diabetes, many women think that they’ve lost control over their health,” she says -- that they can never eat sweets again, and that diabetes will dominate their lives from now on. Sometimes this leads to an unhealthy fixation on counting calories and carbs -- or the opposite, bingeing on sweets because they feel the battle is already lost.
Nicollerat says a woman’s best bet is to keep it simple -- avoid the “strange and weird” diets that call for extremes in eating, from no-carb plans to highly processed (and highly expensive) shakes, bars, and other quasi-food products.
The goal is to eat a balanced diet and exercise for at least 30 minutes every day; with those healthful habits firmly in place, you can even keep some sweets in your routine. Any food, in moderation, can be part of your healthy eating plan.
Though the age-old “balanced diet” doesn’t sound like much of a magic bullet, an eating plan that’s heavy on the veggies and easy on the sweets and meats is easiest to maintain in the long run -- moreover, it’s a menu that serves the whole family.