Have you been diagnosed as pre-diabetic and are you worried about the possibility of developing Type 2 diabetes? Are you lying awake at night thinking about how to stay healthy?
You’re not alone.
Almost 90 million Americans were diagnosed with pre-diabetes in 2012, and those numbers continue to climb (1).
Thankfully, researchers continue to study all stages of diabetes and can tell us more about the risks and preventative measures to take (2).
The good news: pre-diabetes is totally reversible. You are not destined to becoming a diabetic.
Although you can’t turn back the clock on your age (being over age 45 is one major risk factor for developing diabetes), you can change your level of risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.
Changing your long-term diet and exercise routine can lower your blood sugars and remove the risk of developing diabetes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, not making these lifestyle changes increases your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 15% to 30% (3).
Focus on five key areas. Don’t waste any time after you’ve been diagnosed with pre-diabetes; start focusing on these five areas to reverse your diagnosis:
- Weight loss
- Healthy eating
- Physical activity
- Management of blood pressure & cholesterol
- Quality sleep
When you think about diabetes prevention in just five bullet points, it doesn’t seem as scary.
Why weight loss?
Weight loss and long-term weight management are important for diabetes prevention because being overweight or obese reduces your body’s sensitivity to insulin.
You want your body to be sensitive to insulin because insulin regulates blood sugar levels.
The Mayo Clinic says that losing just 5% to 10% of your body weight can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes (1). If you’ve been wanting to lose a few extra pounds but haven’t found the motivation, you should have some now.
Belly fat (or visceral fat) has been linked to an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes (2). This is often one of the hardest areas for many people to trim down, but don’t let that discourage you!
Cut back on sugary drinks to jump-start weight loss.
Eliminating sugary drinks like soda, fruit juice, or frappuccinos is one way to start losing weight. It’s surprising to me how many people don’t realize the high number of calories that they consume just from drinks every day.
And I’m always on the side of thinking, “Why drink your calories?” I’d much rather eat them, personally. I love food too much!
Drinking calories just ends up being extra calories you don’t need (that you end up storing as fat).
Saying goodbye to your favorite drink can be a hard change to make, but then when you consider the alternatives (diabetes medications, increased risk of other health conditions), the benefits outweigh the risks.
Try subbing it out with plain water, lemon water, or cucumber water — OR even sparkling if you need that special bite.
Sure, healthy eating and weight loss go hand in hand. But eating healthy does more than just help you lose weight; it helps you maintain optimal blood sugar levels on a daily basis.
There are many other foods, including vegetables such as potatoes, corn, and plantains, which are high in carbohydrates and sugar, meaning you should avoid them as a pre-diabetic.
Take some time and do research on what you can eat; the American Diabetes Association website provides a list of the best food choices for diabetics and pre-diabetics.
For a more specific meal plan, check out the Outsmart Diabetes Diet five-week plan.
To stay on track with your new healthy eating plan, eat home-cooked meals as much as possible. Once you start choosing healthier foods and eating them on a regular basis, you’ll find that healthy eating all the time is easy to do.
Move more — even if it’s just walking.
Regular exercise (like a 30-minute walk every day) will certainly help you burn calories that may lead to weight loss.
But just like healthy eating, regular physical activity can help keep your blood sugar levels in check (1).
Recent research also shows that aerobic exercise improves brain function in pre-diabetics (2). Since the risk of developing Alzheimer’s increases by 65% if you have diabetes, exercising regularly could very well keep you healthy on multiple fronts.
Not sure how to start exercising?
You can also take up a new hobby or sport, so it doesn’t feel like you have to get in your daily “workout.” Take up something fun that you can do with other people, like Frisbee golf, tennis, or going for bike rides.
In addition to scheduled daily exercise, find other ways to get a little physical activity. Park farther away from the entrance to a store or your job; take the stairs when possible, get up and walk to a coworker’s desk instead of emailing them.
Get your blood pressure and cholesterol under control.
According to the Mayo Clinic, having high blood pressure and high cholesterol can contribute to your resistance to insulin (1). Getting control of your blood pressure and cholesterol can help your body function better and reduce your risks for developing Type 2 diabetes.
In addition to eating right and exercising (things you’ll already be doing to lose weight), controlling your blood pressure requires stress management and limiting alcohol and tobacco use (2).
Lowering your cholesterol requires close attention to your diet, removing fatty foods, and adding heart-healthy fiber.
Sleep your way to better health.
A lot of important things happen inside the body while we sleep, including the regulation of blood glucose levels.
Lack of sleep has been linked to the development of pre-diabetes, as well as Type 2 diabetes (1). Schedule your days and nights to allow you at least five hours of quality sleep.
If you have trouble staying asleep, try to find a natural remedy, or talk to your doctor about techniques for getting a full night’s sleep.
Find support in your community.
If you’re still feeling anxious about your new diagnosis, don’t go it alone. Find a local or national program that helps people just like you; the National Diabetes Prevention Program is a great place to start.
Talk to relatives, friends, and neighbors; chances are good that someone you know is going through the same thing you are. Having someone that you can relate to will increase your chances of keeping up the good-for-you habits that will reverse your pre-diabetes.
Get more help!
You don’t have to live your life with diabetes. You don’t have to suffer over what to eat and what not to eat every day.
Prevention is the best medicine, and our popular diet plan, the 21-Day Fat Loss Challenge, is appropriate for people with diabetes, in danger of it, or just anyone looking to improve their overall health!
People lose an average of 10-21 pounds in 21 days and absolutely love it! But even better than the weight loss is the feedback we get from people about how the program has taught them how to change their eating habits and find a diet that truly works for them in the long-term.
We have over 4,000 women in our private support group going through the Challenge together, and they share experiences, results, motivation, and lots of recipes!
If you are ready to make some changes in your life, this is the ONLY place you should start. We will teach you exactly how to make the necessary changes in your diet and your lifestyle and how to keep them “beyond the diet.”
Leave me a comment below if you enjoyed this article or have any questions!