November is National Diabetes Month, when communities and nutrition educators team up to bring attention to this disease. Here at Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, we know there’s not just one way to prevent or manage diabetes. Having healthy eating habits, exercising, reducing stress and practicing mindfulness are all cornerstones for management and prevention. Remember that even the smallest of steps are steps forward and can make a big difference! We are here to support you.

Find Your Own Balanced Diet

There is a lot of misinformation and confusion around what a “healthy” diet should look like. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to address diabetes. Healthy eating patterns effectively manage diabetes. Focus on:

  • fresh vegetables and whole fruit
  • plant-based protein and lean meats
  • whole grains
  • fiber
  • less processed foods and sugars

All Movement Counts

Oscar and his son Oscar Junior playing on the monkey bars

Engaging in physical activity is also key for improving the overall health of people who have diabetes or prediabetes. Anything from taking a walk outdoors, dancing in your kitchen, and even doing housework or gardening can all be great ways to stay active. We can even get benefits from yoga or tai chi, which help improve flexibility and balance. The best exercise and movement for our body is the one that we enjoy!

Make Time to De-stress

Stress shows up in our body in many different ways, so learning how to manage some of the physical and emotional symptoms can help us throughout our day and encourage us to add some self-care to our daily routine. Try starting your day by practicing deep breathing or meditation. This helps our muscles and mind relax and slows down the body’s stress response. Listening, singing or dancing to music and laughing are other universal ways to de-stress. Listen to music that calms you, connect with a friend or neighbor, or journal your thoughts. Remember that the most important thing we can do for ourselves is to commit to taking care of ourselves.

Susan and Kaylee

Be Present at Mealtime

Mindful eating is described as eating with attention and awareness. In other words, being fully present and slowing down as we eat. This practice can help us feel more connected with our food and bring awareness to our current eating patterns. Practicing mindful eating helps us develop a healthier relationship with food as we slow down. Over time, even small changes in the way we prepare, serve or consume our meals can lead to big improvements in diabetes management. Try mindful eating with your next meal!

Sulma says it’s easier to work nights so she can be with her children Giselle (left) and Jefferson (right) during the day.
The money Sulma and her partner save by getting free groceries from Second Harvest goes to paying off the debt they accrued during the pandemic