Pre-diabetes is a term used to indicate raised blood sugar levels, and it means there’s a greater risk of developing full–blown Type 2 diabetes in the future. While a diagnosis of pre-diabetes certainly isn’t cause for celebration, it can deliver a needed wake-up call, motivating us to make powerful, life-changing improvements to our eating and lifestyle habits.
Better yet, the progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes can be prevented in most individuals and delayed in the others by adopting positive lifestyle changes.
A startling one in three adults in America has pre-diabetes, and most don’t even know they have it. Classic symptoms include feeling thirsty or hungry despite a suitable intake of water or food, extreme fatigue, or cuts/bruises that are unusually slow to heal, but symptoms vary from person to person. In fact, some people have no symptoms at all.
The first step is to determine if you are at risk or already considered pre-diabetic. Once diagnosed, you can then seek information on treatment options.
Three Small Changes to Prevent Diabetes
If you’ve been diagnosed as pre-diabetic, you can start on the road to good health by making JUST THREE simple changes to your lifestyle.
1. Add one cup of non-starchy vegetables to each meal.
Bulking up on your vegetables (and fruits!) will help you eat healthier, feel fuller AND reduce your calorie intake.
Colorful vegetables such as tomato, broccoli, sweet peppers, cauliflower and spinach are great choices. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, peas and legumes should be eaten in moderation.
If you are eating healthier by integrating a salad into your meal, be sure to use dark green lettuces instead of only iceberg lettuce, include three or more additional vegetables, and choose salad dressings that are low in fat, sodium and total carbohydrates.
2. Stop drinking your calories.
Sometimes it’s easier to take something away from your diet instead of adding it in, and one of the fastest ways to cut calories is to eliminate sweetened drinks. (Yes, this includes coffee if you use calorie-laden syrups, creamers or sweeteners of any kind.) While low- fat milk or calorie-free drinks are okay, water is the optimal beverage. If you can limit your sweetened drinks to one 8-ounce cup per day (or one 6-ounce fruit juice), the calories saved can make a huge impact on your weight and health.
Be sure to use artificial sweeteners with caution; although they are “sugar-free,” some sugar substitutes can result in a blood sugar spike.
3. Add 5-10 minutes of ACTIVE MOVEMENT to your day.
By starting small, you build a habit of activity that can slowly be expanded to include more time. Walking is also perfectly acceptable as exercise, even if five minutes is the most you can do in the beginning. Getting started and doing it often enough to become a habit is an excellent starting point.
If you are mostly sedentary and more than forty years old, be sure to get approval from your physician before beginning a new exercise program. If you are already active, the next goal is 150 minutes per week, which is equal to five 30-minute sessions weekly.
These three changes might sound fairly simple, but when combined, they can prevent diabetes. Small changes can make a big difference.
Not sure if you are at risk for pre-diabetes or diabetes? Take this CDC screening test by downloading the form.
If you are 45 years old or older and overweight, or designated at risk according to the above form, consider getting a blood glucose test from your physician, and/or heading to our Sun Health Center For Health & Wellbeing in Surprise, Ariz.,to learn about diabetes prevention. A free 30-minute consultation with one of our health coaches can be amazingly helpful. Learn more at http://www.sunhealthwellbeing.org/.
(Originally published Sept. 18, 2015; last updated Jan. 12, 2019.)