Small lifestyle changes can have a big impact when managing diabetes

Tips for managing diabetes

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about diabetes risk factors, management and encourage Kelowna community members to make healthy lifestyle changes.

In Canada, 11.5 million people are currently living with, or at risk of getting, diabetes.

Unfortunately, diabetes-related complications have increased since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, new data from Shoppers Drug Mart shows a 17 per cent increase in new patients filling diabetes prescriptions per period when comparing 2019 to 2021.

When left unmanaged, the excess sugar in blood that causes diabetes can eventually cause problems and lead to serious health complications, including heart attacks, strokes, kidney failures, blindness, limb amputations and depression.

It can be overwhelming to think about but believe it or not, small lifestyle changes can have a big impact.

Small nutrition changes—You don’t need to make drastic diet changes to have a positive impact on managing your diabetes. Smart nutrition choices, like the options below, can keep your blood sugar levels under better control.

1. At meal times, use the “balanced plate method” as a guide. Aim to have your plate contain one half non-starchy vegetables, one quarter protein foods and the other quarter, whole grain carbohydrates.

2. Incorporate more whole foods into your diet instead of processed foods, which often contain higher amounts of sugar and sodium. A good way to do this is to prepare your meals at home instead of dining out. Take advantage of meal kits that come with all the portioned raw ingredients you need to cook delicious meals at home, such as Indian Spiced Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad. (see recipe below)

3. Just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean you need to avoid sugar altogether. All foods can fit into a healthy diet. Simply try to enjoy sweeter snacks in small doses and in commination with other nutrients such as protein and fiber.

Stay active—Exercise can seem daunting but the good news is something as simple as going for a walk, or even dancing, can have a big impact on managing diabetes. According to Diabetes Canada, just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day, five times a week can slow or even prevent progression of diabetes. Physical activity usually helps reduce elevated blood sugar levels, helping insulin to work better.

Blood sugar maintenance—Monitoring your blood sugar range is an important part of managing your diabetes and preventing complications. It’s much easier to make lifestyle changes when you know if your blood sugar is too high or low. If you need support, reach out to your local Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist who can help set up testing and show you how to use it.

A diabetes diagnosis can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. As a Kelowna registered dietitian, I am here to support and can help you improve your overall wellness through personalized nutrition services.

To discuss your unique needs, book an appointment with me at yourindependentgrocer.ca/dietitians.


Indian Spiced Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad


• 1 Large head cauliflower and cut in 1-inch florets (about 11 cups)

• 1 Medium red onion, chopped

• 1 can Chickpeas

• 1/4 cup Olive oil

• 2 tbsp Garam masala

• 1 tsp Turmeric

• 1 tsp Salt

• 1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper

• 1/3 cup Greek Yogurt

• 1 tbsp grated lemon rind

• 4 tsp lemon juice

• 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

• 2 cups Baby Spinach, packed

• 3 tbsp Chopped coriander

• 3 tbsp Toasted pine nuts

How to make it:

1. Arrange racks in bottom and top thirds of oven. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Combine cauliflower, onion and chickpeas in large bowl. In small bowl, whisk oil, garam masala, turmeric, salt and cayenne. Pour over vegetable mixture. Toss until combined and divide between baking sheets.

3. Bake for 35 minutes, switching baking sheets top to bottom halfway, or until vegetables are golden brown and softened. Let cool for 15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, whisk together yogurt, lemon rind, lemon juice, mustard and 4 tsp water.

5. Place roasted vegetables in bowl. Add spinach; toss to combine. Transfer to platter; drizzle yogurt dressing over top. Garnish with coriander and pine nuts.

Zahra Tromsness is a registered dietitian at Peter’s Your Independent Grocer in Kelowna.

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