Today is Diabetes Alert Day, an annual reminder that type 2 diabetes is a common and serious health problem. More than 29 million Americans have diabetes and 86 million have pre-diabetes. That’s nearly one-third of the U.S. population! To find out if you are at risk, take this 60-second assessment from the American Diabetes Association.
Lower Your Risk with Lifestyle Changes
The good news? There are immediate steps you can take to lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. These same lifestyle changes will also lower your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and certain cancers.
Load up on the veggies and salads. Enjoy fresh fruit. Eat whole grains, legumes/beans, and lower-fat meats. Stay away from the vending machine at work or school and pack healthy snacks from home like fruit, yogurt, veggie sticks, and cheese sticks. Nuts are healthy too, but just a handful a day, so you don’t add on too many calories.
Watch your weight
Being overweight increases your risk for diabetes and pre-diabetes. To lose weight, eat smaller portions of proteins and grains but allow yourself larger portions of vegetables and salads. Limit pizza to two slices. Choose the smaller size latte and skip the sugary syrup and whipped cream. Avoid high-fat foods with little nutritional value like fried foods, gravies, cream, and cheese sauces. Do Cheetos keep you company when you’re watching TV? Tell them they are no longer invited. Keep your hands busy with an exercise ball or other hobby like knitting. Better yet, turn off the TV and go do your housework, run errands, or go to bed earlier! Step on the scale frequently to make sure your weight is trending down, not up.
Be more active
Sitting much of the day is not good for our health. Stand up and stretch periodically or do a quick walk of the hallway. On your lunch break, get outside and walk a few blocks; it clears your mind and energizes you for the afternoon. Walk, go to the gym or pool, take the stairs, or put a stationary bike in front of the TV. Aim for 30 minutes or more of exercise per day, at least five days a week. If it’s too hard to find a 30-minute block of time for exercise, three 10-minute blocks of exercise a day works too.
Track Your Success
As you work on healthy habits, keep a written record of exercise, meals, and snacks. Studies show this helps keep you motivated. Your record can be paper or digital. There are many good fitness apps, like My Fitness Pal.
Need More Help?
Call The Polyclinic’s Nutrition and Diabetes Education Department at 206-860-2208 to schedule an appointment or sign up for one of our diabetes education classes. They are here to help with nutrition tips, recipes, meal planning, shopping lists, and more. Their aim is the same as yours: to prevent diabetes, and to help those with diabetes protect their health as they manage their diet, exercise, and blood sugars.