Diabetes Prevention: 3 Tips to Control Your Fate
Mom plunged the needle into a soft, round orange as I looked on. The doctor said practicing on the fruit would make it easier when she had to put the insulin injection in my grandmother’s thigh. At 4’11” and 200 pounds, Grandma had always been warned that diabetes was a real possibility, but she never paid much mind. Until she had to.
Diabetes runs in my family. My mother, uncle and now brother have it. While there is a genetic inclination present, the good news is that the diagnosis doesn’t have to be a foregone conclusion for anyone. November is American Diabetes Month and the focus this year is on prevention.
According to the CDC, more than 1 in 3 Americans have prediabetes (that’s about 88 million people). Prediabetes means your blood sugar level is higher than normal but not to the point where you have type 2 diabetes. The best news is that with a few changes you (and I) can reduce the likelihood of getting it.
Here are 3 Tips to Take Control:
- Go to the doctor, especially if you have symptoms such as: frequent urination, constant thirst, blurry vision, unexplained weight loss, constant hunger and dry skin. A simple blood test will let you know if you are prediabetic or diabetic and your doctor will give you a game plan.
- Cut sugar from your diet. When my brother was diagnosed he went to a diabetes class taught by a nurse. She showed him how foods he thought of as “good”, like cereals with fruit, were full of sugar. I teach a nutrition class and I have them guess how much sugar is in each popular energy drink. Then I hand them a jar and have them dump out the sugar and they are appalled to realize how much sugar they’ve ingested daily without their knowledge. This is a situation where knowledge is power. Read labels. Consider swapping in green tea for your flavored latte, water instead of soda, almond milk instead of 2% milk. Little changes add up.
- Move more. People in a Diabetes Prevention Program study reduced their risk of developing diabetes by almost 60% after losing weight with changes in exercise and diet. Cardiovascular exercise is an easy way to get started. You can walk on a treadmill, ride a bike or stationary bicycle, swim, use a Max Trainer Elliptical or walk up and down flights of stairs.
According to the National Institute of Health, by making these lifestyle changes it’s possible to prevent type 2 diabetes and reverse prediabetes. Making lifestyle changes is hard. But so is having to learn how to give daily injections. Why go there?