There are lessons from a diagnosis of pre-diabetes that serve as a wake-up call. They say, “It’s time to tune up your approach to your lifestyle.”
While diabetes remains in that early stage doctors call “pre-diabetes,”some subtle (and some not so subtle) adjustments to your day can prevent a full-blown diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes.
Think of it as an opportunity to live longer and feel better while doing it.
- Think of it as not having to carry insulin around with you all the time, and avoiding the almost inevitable baggage of multiple medications for high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart disease…Think of it as staying alive.
You see where I’m going here.
Making the following changes is a good way to start learning the lessons from a diagnosis of pre-diabetes.
1. Move More – or START moving
- Becoming more active is one of the best ways (if not THE best way) to prevent the onset of Type 2 Diabetes.
If it’s been a while since you exercised, start by building more activity into your routine little by little.
- Skip the elevator, take the stairs
- Instead of munching snacks during TV commercials, do some stretching
Physical activity is a “must do” part of the treatment plan for pre-diabetes, because it lowers blood glucose (sugar) levels and decreases body fat. There are few reasons not to exercise, but even if you’re in a wheelchair, there are exercises tailored for you that will keep your metabolism working for your health.
It will also protect you from developing heart disease, heart attacks, strokes…
2. Lower Your Weight
If you’re overweight, you might not have to lose as much as you think to make a difference.
- In one study, people who had pre-diabetes and lost 5% to 7% of their body weight (just 10-14 pounds for someone who weighs 200 pounds) lower their risk of Type 2 Diabetes by 58%.
3. See Your Doctor More Often
See your doctor every three to six months
- You want and need some tangible evidence of your success or lack thereof.
- Always welcome positive reinforcement and/or new recommendations for improvement and getting you back on track.
4. Eat Better
Probably the best lessons from a diagnosis of pre-diabetes you’ll ever learn are to eat healthier foods.
Vegetables, especially the less-starchy kinds such as spinach and other leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, and green beans can help your body do its job of holding off disease and fighting infections. (Click here for information on what to eat)
Aim for at least three servings a day.
- Add more high-fiber foods into your day.
- Enjoy fruits in moderation – 1 to 3 servings per day. (Click here for information on the best fruits for diabetics)
- Choose whole-grain foods instead of processed grains — for example, brown rice instead of white rice. (Click to see recommendations)
Also, swap out high-calorie foods
- Drink skim milk instead of whole milk (yes, you CAN get used to it!)
- Skip sodas of any type, even “diet” ones
- Choose lower-fat versions of cheese, butter, yogurt, and salad dressings.
- Instead of snacking on high-fat, high-calorie chips and desserts, choose fresh fruit, or whole wheat crackers with peanut butter or low-fat cheese.
5. Make Sleep a Priority
A sleep shortfall also makes it harder for your body to use insulin effectively and may make Type 2 diabetes more likely.
Set good sleep habits:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
- Relax before you turn out the lights.
- Don’t watch TV or use your computer or smartphone when you’re trying to fall asleep.
- Avoid caffeine after lunch if you have trouble sleeping.
- Check out more ideas here
6. Get Support
Losing weight, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly is easier if you have people helping you out, holding you accountable, and cheering you on.
- Consider joining a group where you can pursue a healthier lifestyle in the company of others with similar goals.
- A Certified Diabetes Educator can also help you learn different ways to approach a diagnosis of pre-diabetes, and how to prevent the onset of Type 2 Diabetes.
Having the right mind-set can help.
- Accept that you won’t do things perfectly every day, but pledge to do your best most of the time.
- Make a conscious choice to be consistent with everyday activities that are in the best interest of your health.
- Do your best and make small changes over time, they will add up.
I guarantee the results will be worth it.