As I write this, some 54 million Americans are living with pre-diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and they may not even know it. November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. As the daughter of a type 2 diabetic, I know first-hand what it is like living with the disease. Between medications, finger sticks, foot checks, vision tests, and the daily grind of nutrition and exercise, it can be a lot for people to manage, especially after years of unhealthy habits.
So, wouldn’t it be great if you knew what you could do to control your diabetes, or better yet prevent diabetes, in the first place? Well, you’ve come to the right place. This blog post will describe the top three steps you can take to prevent or reverse type 2 diabetes.
1. Eat healthy
If you already have type 2 diabetes, then you have (hopefully) learned about the importance of keeping carbohydrates consistent throughout the day, meaning enjoying a small amount of healthy carbohydrates with each meal. Well, this also works in preventing type 2 diabetes.
I recommend people choose carbohydrates in the form of fresh or minimally processed starchy vegetables (like potatoes), fruits, beans (like lentils), and whole grains (like brown rice, quinoa, and corn) for their meals. Non-starchy veggies have such low carbs for the calories and they are almost 100% water that you don’t need to limit those.
Just watch how they are prepared. Steamed or broiled with herbs, spices or a little olive oil is best. Refined sources of carbohydrates should be limited as much as possible: sugar, white bread, white rice, etc. You don’t need to eliminate all foods with these ingredients, but try to make a healthier swap whenever possible and limit your portion sizes of these foods.
2. Exercise more
Exercise can help slow or prevent the progression of diabetes a number of ways. Exercise helps to maintain a healthy weight, lose weight, manage stress, and improve sleep (more on that next). Exercise also helps people manage a healthy blood sugar level whether you have diabetes or not.
When you exercise, you burn sugar for energy. Regular exercise also helps keep blood vessels healthy to prevent heart disease, which diabetics often get from damage to blood vessels. You don’t have to be a marathoner either. As little as 1,000 calories worth of activity spread throughout the week (walking 30 minutes and 20 minutes of strength training three times a week) causes your muscles to utilize sugar more effectively and keep it from floating around in your blood, which leads to diabetes.
3. Lose weight
Get a tape measure and take a waist measurement. Men, if you’ve got 40 or more inches around the waist you have 12 times the risk of developing diabetes than a male with 35 inches. Women, if you have 37 or more inches around the waist you are 12 times more likely to get diabetes than a female with 32.5 inches.
Eating healthy and exercising more are the best steps to losing weight. Get a trainer, dietitian, join a class, or buy a book/dvd… but do something to help yourself lose weight sensibly.