According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 84 million American adults—more than 1 out of 3—have prediabetes. Of those with prediabetes, 90% don’t know they have it. Prediabetes puts you at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
If you’re one of those adults, here are some changes you can make now:
1.Work with your healthcare team
Meet with your physician regularly, at least twice a year. Know your goal blood sugar and A1C levels. Test your blood sugar regularly, write down your results, and when you meet with your healthcare team, let them know how your numbers have been.
Be sure to take any diabetes medication at the correct time of day and in the exact dose as prescribed by your physician. If you have trouble remembering to take your medications, try setting an alarm on your cell phone to remind you.
2. Learn how to identify and avoid sugar
You may think sugar is pretty easy to spot, but think again! It’s not only cookies, cakes, and donuts that diabetics need to watch out for. Sugar is lurking everywhere, and is difficult to avoid if you don’t know where to look.
Ketchup, salad dressing, barbecue sauce, all full of sugar! Even “healthy” foods like yogurt and fruit juice can wreak havoc on a diabetic’s blood sugar.
3. Choose whole, clean foods
Protein, good fats, and plenty of fiber – these are the foundations of a healthy diet. Experiment with cooking at home, find recipes you really enjoy. Enjoy your favorite foods in new ways, and in moderation. While total deprivation is never the answer; making consistent, positive food choices is key!
4. Get moving
Start small and slow. Do not give yourself unrealistic, unattainable goals. For example, your first exercise goal could be to take two walks each week. You can choose the days, you can choose the times, and you can choose to walk alone or with company.
Find some type of physical activity that you enjoy. Surfing, kayaking, yoga, swimming, jump rope, skiing, anything! You’ll be much more likely to stick with it if you enjoy doing it. Check out this article of 10 Fun Ways to Get Fit Without a Gym!
5. Quit smoking
Smoking is not a healthy habit for anyone, but diabetics are at increased risk of suffering smoking’s dangerous effects. Research has found that A1C levels rise with repeated exposure to nicotine. Long-term elevated blood sugar levels increase the risk of serious complications like kidney failure, heart attack, or stroke.
6. Drink Up
Water is critical to each and every body process. From the transportation of nutrients throughout the body, to regulating body temperature, digesting food, and more. Drinking water also helps to flush excess glucose from the blood, and helps your body keep blood sugar lower and more stable. This makes drinking water absolutely essential for diabetics.
When it comes to alcohol, make smart choices in moderation. Beer can be high in empty carbs and calories. When it comes to liquor, mix with soda water or seltzer instead of soda or fruit juice to keep sugar levels lower. Avoid pre-mixed drinks like malt beverages or margaritas as they are full of sugar. Choose red wine over white for lower blood sugar and a dose of heart-healthy antioxidants.
When you’re stressed, your blood sugar spikes. Cortisol, the body’s “stress hormone,” is released and instructs the body’s cells to either absorb that extra glucose for immediate energy, or store it for later. Frequent high cortisol levels can contribute to insulin resistance, increasing risk of Type II diabetes. Try meditation, massage therapy, yoga, or walks on the beach. Talk to family and friends about your stress; spending time with loved ones can do wonders for stress levels.
8. Sleep tight
You know the feeling… you wake up groggy, still drowsy, and have to force yourself out of bed to start the day. Well, not only does a bad night’s sleep affect your mood, it can also affect blood sugar. The body’s reaction to lack of sleep can mimic insulin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs due to the cell’s inability to utilize insulin. This results in high blood sugar. Imagine if your blood sugar was spiking every single night simply because you were having trouble sleeping… yikes!