Among those few ominous "D" words that you never want to hear,
Until now, diabetes has probably been something you've witnessed from afar, maybe through a cousin or co-worker. Perhaps it's been in the back of your mind as you indulge in a nightly bowl of ice cream, but you never thought it would actually happen to you.
Then, in just one appointment, all of that changes. After a test or two, the "D" word—or at least the warning sign that precedes it—weasels its way into your life when your doctor informs you of your
What Is a Prediabetes Diagnosis?
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) describes
There are four ways your doctor may diagnose
- A hemoglobin A1C test result of 5.7-6.4 percent
- A fasting blood glucose reading of 100-125 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter)
- An oral glucose tolerance test result of 140-199 mg/dl
- A random blood sugar check resulting in 200 mg/dl or greater
How to Handle a Prediabetes Diagnosis
According to certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian nutritionist Toby Smithson, a
Although those with prediabetes are at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes within 10 years, there are precautions you can take to prevent that from happening.
The NIDDK conducted an intensive research study, the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), to determine whether modest weight loss, increased physical activity and dietary changes can prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes. All of the study participants were overweight and had been diagnosed with prediabetes. The results showed that those who received individual support and guidance in adopting a healthy lifestyle reduced their diabetes risk by 58 percent
Your Action PlanYou're not powerless against
1. Set a weight-loss goal.
Smithson points out that the weight loss doesn't have to be dramatic to have a significant impact. It's always important to set realistic weight goals in order to avoid frustration or health issues. "Losing seven percent of your body weight can help your body better control your blood sugar levels," she says. However, if you are very overweight or obese, the NIDDK recommends trying to lose five to 10 percent of your body weight—so, for a 300-pound person, that would be anywhere from 15 to 30 pounds.
2. Start tracking everything you eat.
Following a healthy, reduced-calorie meal plan is an essential ingredient in any weight loss plan. The first step in evaluating the quality and quantity of your food intake is to start tracking everything you eat, from meals and snacks to beverages and quick bites. After just a few days, you'll be able to start recognizing bad habits and worrisome patterns.
3. Start making smarter food choices.
The NIDDK recommends these as the four most important steps for healthy eating for weight loss:
- Eat smaller portions of foods that are high in calories, fat and sugar.
- Eat healthier foods in place of less-healthy choices.
- Choose foods that are lower in trans-fat, saturated fat and added sugars.
- Instead of sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, juice and energy drinks, choose water or tea.
In our world of super-sized meals, it's easy to get afflicted with portion distortion. The NIDDK recommends using the "plate method" to help ensure sensible portion sizes. For each meal, try to fill half the plate with fruit and veggies, a quarter with a lean protein and the remaining quarter with a whole grain
5. Stick to a healthy fat and calorie range.
Everyone has different needs, but the NIDDK provides a basic guideline for daily calories and fat grams based on how much the participants consumed in the Diabetes Prevention Program research study. You can work with your doctor or diabetes prevention specialist to tailor these guidelines to your needs.
Be sure to read nutrition facts labels and track your intake to ensure that you’re staying in your target range.
6. Find little ways to move more.
Even if you're not quite ready to take the plunge of daily gym visits or hard-core boot camps, you can always find ways to move your muscles throughout the day. "Adding 30 minutes of moderate activity, like brisk walking, five days per week has been shown to help with weight loss and management of blood sugar levels," says Smithson.
She recommends starting with small amounts of activity (five to 10 minutes), building that into your daily routine and then slowly adding five more minutes every three days until you reach the goal of 30 minutes, five days per week. "For example, while watching television, stand up and do wall
In general, always try to be on the lookout for opportunities to sit less and move more. Wearing an activity tracker can help you gauge your progress and stay motivated to get in the recommended 7,000 to 10,000 steps per day.
7. Stop smoking.
According to the CDC, smokers have a 30 to 40 percent greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than non-smokers. Smoking can cause inflammation and interfere with proper cell function, which can ultimately lead to diabetes. In addition, smokers tend to have higher amounts of cortisol, a hormone that elevates blood sugar levels.
If you currently smoke, there are countless reasons why it’s a good idea to stop, but a
8. Get support.
As of 2015, 84.1 million American adults had
9. Stay in touch with your doctor.
You might also want to ask about any medicines that could help keep diabetes at bay. When used with a healthy diet and