Managing one’s blood sugar and overall health can be a little tricky, if you aren’t used to doing so. Many Americans have problems with blood sugar and obesity, which can lead to health problems in general. By changing food selections, incorporating simple exercise, and listening to your body, you can easily become more aware and prevent diseases.

Pre-diabetes is one common diagnosis among those with a higher blood sugar. Over 86 million Americans have pre-diabetes, some without knowing it. Pre-diabetes is a condition where ones blood glucose (or sugar) levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be considered diabetes. Although not all people with prediabetes develop type 2 diabetes, but without intervention the risk of getting it within 10 years increases.

Your chances of pre-diabetes rise if you:

  • Are over 45 years of age or older.
  • Are overweight.
  • Have a parent or sibling with diabetes.
  • Had gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
  • Are not physically active at least three times a week.
  • Are African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander.
  • Have high blood pressure or if you take medicine for high blood pressure.
  • Have low HDL cholesterol and/or high triglycerides.
  • Have been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

 The good news:

Studies demonstrate that the progression from pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes is not inevitable and certain lifestyle changes can significantly blood sugar levels, including healthy nutrition, modest weight loss, and routine physical activity.

What can you do to prevent or delay diabetes?  If you are overweight, losing 7% of your body weight and incorporating physical activity into your life can lower your risk of developing diabetes by 58%. Those are some pretty positive outcomes with just adopting a healthier lifestyle. So the power is in your hands. Think eat less and move more. Here are some tips:

Listen to your body:

Get in tune with your body, emotions, and hunger cues. You will be surprised how many times we eat simply from an emotional response, be it happy or sad, or just plain boredom. Keeping a food record can also bring awareness to some of these food behaviors we need to change, for instance, food or situations that trigger us to overeat. In addition, record you physical activity on the records to keep you motivated.  

Eat lean:

Try more grilled, roasted, baked, boiled, and steamed foods instead of fried, breaded, and creamy ones. Pick lean meats, fish, poultry, and lower-fat cheeses and dairy items. Examples include eggs, wild salmon, lentils, and Greek yogurt.

Add color naturally:

Get plenty of fiber by eating whole, real foods. Vegetables, fruits, and whole grain breads and cereals, beans, and legumes are good sources. High fiber foods such as whole grain breads, bagels, and English muffins increase satiety and help normalize blood sugar levels and prevent rapid increases.

Mind your portions:

Pay attention to your portions at meals and at snack times.  Recommended serving sizes are lot smaller than we tend to think they are, so accurate measuring is important. 

 Cut out extras:

Extra calories add up quickly, especially liquid calories. Stick with water. Switch out soda, juice, and sugary drinks with water.

 Get active:

Exercise 30 minutes a day, on most days. Take a walk after dinner or during a work break, use the stairs, walk to a co-workers office instead of emailing, walk around when you are talking on the phone, and do exercises at commercial breaks while watching television. There are many ways to sneak in activity anytime. Remember, it all counts, so move when you can.

 If you concerned about pre-diabetes, get your blood glucose (sugar) checked annually and follow the advice of your health care providers. Consult with a registered dietitian/nutritionist near you.  Lastly, look at a diagnosis of prediabetes as an opportunity, a chance to become a healthier and better you.  

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 Lela Iliopoulos is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator and an expert in nutrition therapy, health promotion, and education. She is passionate about impacting nutritional health through the practical application of science-based information

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