A Daily Guide to a Healthy Diet and Happiness

Healthy Starts Made Simple is the daily resource for a happy diet and healthy living.

How Diabetes Saved My Life

My name is Laura, and I was a bread junkie. I loved any kind of bread. I also loved potatoes. And sodas. Basically, I used to eat pretty much what everyone eats: far too much fat, sugar and starchy foods. But when I was diagnosed with diabetes, all of that had to go. My doctor told me I’d have to drop 70 pounds to get healthy.

It was difficult news to hear, and I was overwhelmed at first. Since I struggle exercising due to excess weight and my autoimmune disease stressing my connective tissue, my weight loss would have to rely a lot on diet changes. You might wonder, “How can I possibly lose weight if I have trouble exercising?” Well, making healthier changes in my diet has helped me to get to a point where I could exercise. I’ve lost 55 pounds already, and I feel healthier and more energetic than I have in years.

How I Did It

The first step in my weight loss journey was learning about healthy foods and what I needed to eat to help my body heal. Since I’ve taught graduate research for years, it was a natural progression for me to add diabetes to my list of topics to find out more about.

A lot of my get-healthier journey, of course, ended up being trial and error, but it’s these three rules that helped me lose weight -- and can help you too, whether you’re diabetic or not: 

1.    Make healthy food lists

Making lists of what I should and should not eat was a difficult and slow process at first. But once I had it down, I could mix and match healthy foods for delicious meals that made me feel great afterward. 

2.    Read labels

I became meticulous about reading labels at the grocery store. I start with serving size to make sure I know how the nutritional info relates proportionally to the food. As a diabetic, I pay special attention to sugars and carbs, but I also watch out for high amounts of fat, cholesterol and sodium. Anything with a daily value below 5% I consider low while anything above 20% is high.

3.    Love complex carbs

I tested my blood sugar after every meal for over a year; if my blood sugar spiked, I didn’t eat that food again. I cut out simple starches, such as pasta and potatoes, and I only stuck with carbohydrate-dense, whole-grain foods.  

My Reward

By paying attention to what I was eating, my body adapted and my blood sugar dropped slowly and steadily over time. My new diet gave me the balance and energy I needed to lessen my troubles with exercise, allowing me to be more active than ever before. With my new changes in both diet and exercise, I’ve lost 55 pounds -- I only have 15 left to go! I've lost weight very slowly and hit plateaus along the way. My doc says that's good because it gives the body time to adjust to the gradual weight loss. I've been at a plateau for about four months, and now it's easier to get back to a weight loss of about 3 pounds per month. Sure, it's slow, but I was a yo-yo dieter for most of my adult life, and this gradual weight loss is working!

My blood sugar became easier to control thanks to the weight loss, and my levels are now in a healthy zone. I am taking medication but haven’t needed to go on insulin -- my doctor says that when I lose the last 15 pounds, I probably won’t need to take any drugs at all to manage my diabetes! Also, my joint issues aren’t progressing as much as they were, because I’m not carrying around all of that extra weight.

In general, I feel a lot better, and I have a ton more energy. And, strangely enough, I can thank my diagnosis for that: Finding out I had diabetes turned out to be not just a wakeup call, but also the motivation I needed to learn to live my best life ever!

Do you meditate?

Finding your inner peace can also help in other ways. Did you know yoga can help with digestive issues? Your digestive health is affected to a large extent by the food that you eat and the lifestyle you maintain. Yogic philosophy believes that for good health, digestion is very important and is essential to a happy healthy life.

Many people have found that by doing yoga several time a week can help alleviate digestive issues and lead to a healthier digestive system. Others swear by the preventative value of yoga and have been able to largely avoid gastrointestinal issue through prevention. Yoga not only helps stretch and tone the muscles of the abdomen, it can also stimulate the endocrine glands and other digestive fluids to make them work more quickly and efficiently. Yoga helps the entire digestive become the well-oiled machine you want it to be. You cannot place a price on digestive health, so why not try it?

Yoga and meditation also helps increase awareness of the body and its ailments. Though modern medicine can provide intermediate relief, yoga for digestive system means a lifetime of healthy digestion. It helps you alter your lifestyle with ease, reduce stress and other environmental factors that may cause digestive problems, and helps you attain peace and inner tranquility. Breathing exercises like Anuloma Viloma and Kapalbhatti can help increase immunity by enabling the heart to pump more blood. Stretching poses help to strengthen the muscles of the digestive organs. For chronic disorders though, it is best that you to consult your doctor and a yoga expert and find out program best suits you and your lifestyle.

Home Excercise Can Help You Mentally and Physically

Live in a city or prefer to stay inside? You can always bring the outside in by staring out the window, or you can put away your phone and actually go outside! Studies show that fresh air, new surroundings and an elevated heart rate can not only help get you digestive juices flowing, but can also change you mental state in a positive way. Indeed, nothing will motivate you to get and stretch your leg than seeing other doing it. This is why people love going to the gym, so they can feed off the exercise energy of others.

But, if you live in the city or some other place where getting outside isn't as easy or suitable to your lifestyle, you can always get the outside experience inside with a home exercise program.