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Am Fam Physician. 2009;79(1):42

See related article on management of blood glucose in type 2 diabetes.

You can improve your overall health, lower your blood sugar levels, and lower your chance of having a heart attack or stroke by changing your diet and activities. Here are a few things you can do to stay as healthy as possible after you've been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Maintain a healthy body weight

Many people with type 2 diabetes are overweight. Losing weight and keeping it off will help you control your blood sugar and make you feel better.

Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat. It is based on your height and weight. Go to to calculate your BMI. A healthy BMI is less than 25. If your BMI is more than 25, talk with your doctor about things you can do to lose weight.

Begin by setting a goal to lose 7 percent of your current weight. For example, if you weigh 250 pounds, your first goal will be to lose 18 pounds. Losing any amount of weight and keeping it off will improve your health, so don't get discouraged if you lose the weight slowly. Combining a healthy diet with exercise is the best way to lose weight and keep it off.

Make healthy food choices

Less than 25 percent of your calories should come from fat. Avoid fatty foods like deli meats, hot dogs, snack foods, and pastries. If reducing the amount of fat from calories does not help you lose weight, decrease the total number of calories you consume. The number of calories you should consume each day depends on how much you weigh.

Current weightNumber of calories per day
120 to 174 pounds1,200
175 to 219 pounds1,500
220 to 249 pounds1,800
250 pounds or more2,000

Exercise regularly

Getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, like walking, biking, and swimming, will help you lose weight and keep it off, and it can help keep your heart healthy.

Spread your exercise out over several days each week (for example, five sessions of 30 minutes each). Try not to go more than two days without exercising.

If you do not have any major health problems that limit your activities, add resistance exercises to your routine. For example, you can lift weights three times a week, targeting all the major muscle groups.

Other resources

American Academy of Family Physicians:

American Diabetes Association:

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases:

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