November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and as a Certified Diabetes Educator, this month means a lot to me. One of the top goals we hear from our clients is that they do not want to end up with Type 2 Diabetes like their relatives did, or they don’t want to start (or stay) on medication. When people think of diabetes, they often think they’re doomed …but the good news is that your genes don’t have to dictate your reality!
Here are 5 ways you can decrease your risk of developing Gestational diabetes, pre-diabetes, and ultimately Type 2 diabetes:
- Know your numbers! Getting annual lab work completed that includes a fasting glucose reading and Hemoglobin A1c can clue you in on your risk level, and can be imperative in monitoring how your lifestyle changes are affecting your health. The fact that nearly 90% of Americans who have pre-diabetes don’t know that they have it speaks to the importance of knowing your own numbers.
- Take a Passagiata. We all know that the European way of life is a little more laissez-fare compared to us high wired Americans. I think they’re onto something. After meals, you will see most Italians taking a stroll outside. This passagiata, which means “post meal stroll”, can make a huge difference in your blood sugar. When you eat, your blood sugar goes up and when you walk, your muscle cells are able to uptake more glucose (sugar) to be used for energy. So instead of chilling on the couch after dinner, take a quick stroll around the neighborhood or even just walk in place in front of the TV if you can’t go outside.
- Veg-Out! “Eat your vegetables!” is something that probably still rings in your ears from childhood. However, mom’s instructions are just as important now as they were then. Making 50% of your plate non-starchy vegetables (think: leafy greens, mushrooms, peppers, cauliflower and broccoli) is a great way to increase nutrient density on your plate and increase fiber. Increasing fiber in your diet helps slow your digestion which slows the rise of post meal blood sugar. Remember this tip at holiday dinners and parties this year. If you can make sure 50% of your plate is veggies that will naturally prevent low nutrient, higher calorie foods from covering the entire plate.
- Eat consistently throughout the day. Eating breakfast within one hour of waking up, and eating a meal or snack every 3-4 hours throughout the day can help reduce your risk. Why? Because not only will you have consistent energy levels throughout the day, it also decreases the risk of overeating (carbohydrates) at the next meal, or bingeing on snacks/sweets.
- Maintain a healthy weight and avoid yo-yo dieting. A healthy weight is totally different for everyone and is highly individualized. However, research shows us that maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding yo-yo diets (which are shown to result in weight GAIN rather than loss) significantly reduces the risk of chronic illnesses like Type 2 diabetes. If a weight loss is recommended by your doctor, a healthy weight loss of 0.5-1 pound per week for women, and 1-2 pounds per week for men is the way to go in addition to checking your blood sugars and A1c (see tip #1 above). And don’t feel like you have to go crazy with the weight loss! According to a study done by Diabetes Journal, just a 2 pound weight loss correlated to a 16% reduction in Diabetes risk.
Want to learn more about Diabetes prevention or management? We are here to help. Click here to set up your FREE 15 minute discovery call with a Registered Dietitian.
-Written by Christie Griffin, RD, LD, CDE, CSOWM – Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at the Brittany Jones Nutrition Group