Make these tweaks to your kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and home office to help keep your type 2 diabetes symptoms under control. You can think of doctors as backup for your type 2 diabetes management, but it’s really up to you to stick to a healthy lifestyle. According to a study published in July 2012 in Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics, people who felt empowered to take charge of their diabetes care showed better medication adherence, greater knowledge about the disease, and better self-care.
Turning your home into a diabetes-friendly zone is one way to take control. Make it easy on yourself by implementing a few tweaks around the house to ensure you’re taking your medicines, eating healthy, increasing activity, and monitoring your blood sugar, says Sylvia White, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator in Memphis, Tennessee. Here’s a room-by-room guide.
1. Bedroom – Insufficient sleep can increase levels of the hormone ghrelin (which controls hunger) and decrease levels of leptin (which controls feelings of fullness) in the body, according to a review published in July 2011 in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care.
“A night with less sleep can result in a day of overeating, poor impulse control over food, and craving carbs,” White says. That’s the reason why you might find yourself reaching for sugary foods when you’re tired. “It gives you energy temporarily, and then you crash, and then you reach for more of those unhealthy foods,” says Deborah Malkoff-Cohen, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator based in New York City. To encourage more shut-eye, decorate your bedroom in calming colors, like blue, and ban electronics from the bedroom so the bright light doesn’t mess with your ability to fall asleep, White recommends.
Malkoff-Cohen also counts an eye mask, a cold room, and a comfortable bed as secrets to a good night’s sleep. And if you tend to stay up late into the night thinking of all the things you need to do the next day, steal Malkoff-Cohen’s tip and keep a pad of paper on your nightstand. “Sometimes I will sit in bed and write down things I need to do the next day before I shut my eyes so I know it’s all written down instead of going over it all in my head,” she says.
One benefit of exercise for people at risk of diabetes or those who are already diagnosed with the disease is a measurable improvement in insulin resistance, suggests a small study published in May 2012 in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. So when it comes to your house, think carefully about what you can do to help you move more, White says.
Maybe you set your workout clothes out the night before or you leave your yoga mat in a hard-to-miss spot to serve as a reminder to do a few moves when you wake up. The bathroom is a good place for both of those things.
Also, keep a meter on your bathroom counter to remind you to check your blood sugareach morning, White suggests. But be careful not to store heat-sensitive medications in the bathroom, as steam can sometimes deteriorate the ingredients, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Metformin (Glucophage), for example, should not be stored in the bathroom.
Instead, consider storing your medications in one of your kitchen cabinets away from your sink, stove, or hot appliances, according to the NIH. Because blood sugars can run higher when you’re sick, make sure that same cabinet is stocked with common medications, like sugar-free cough syrup.
Another reason the kitchen is key for diabetes management: It’s the space in your home where you can begin to make healthy dietary choices.
Start by placing diabetes-friendly foods, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, at eye level in the fridge, White suggests. You’ll be more likely to reach for those rather than unhealthy snacks. “Whatever you have in your home, you can’t expect not to eat it,” Malkoff-Cohen says.
If you have to have sweets around (say, if you live with a cookie fanatic), buy a variety you don’t like so you’re not tempted to eat them, Malkoff-Cohen suggests.
White advises sticking a cheat sheet of diabetes-friendly foods to the outside of your fridge. Include a list of healthy low-carb snacks — such as nuts and seeds — so you know what to reach for when you’re hungry and in a hurry.
4. Home Office
Start by making your office snack-free. “If you work in your home office during the day, go to the kitchen for meals and snacks,” White says. It’s important to really take a break from work so you can focus on eating mindfully because chowing down while checking emails could result in overeating. Plus, practicing mindfulness when eating may lead to modest weight loss and better glycemic control in people with type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in November 2012 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
To resist unhealthy snacking at home, replace the candy jar on your desk with a water glass, and be sure to sip from it throughout the day, says Malkoff-Cohen; it’s important to make sure your kidneys are well hydrated.
You also want to keep your office space organized. “Stress can increase blood sugars, so maintain a calm environment,” White says. “Try to keep the desktop clean, use decorative boxes or files for your paperwork, and light a candle when working.”