Your physician just told you that you have pre-diabetes, and you’re wondering how – or even if – you can reverse that diagnosis.First of all, you need to understand the pre-diabetes. That term means your blood glucose (sugar) is higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. But if it is left untreated, it will develop into Type 2 Diabetes.
The diagnosis of pre-diabetes is your wake-up call! Making immediate lifestyle changes can help to prevent the certain progression into Type 2 Diabetes, and lead you toward a longer, healthier life.
You may wonder how you can reserve this diagnosis. There are 4 main topics to focus on when your goal is to reverse pre-diabetes: managing your weight, eating well, increasing physical activity and making sure you have a support system.
It is important to start small and slowly add changes, to avoid overwhelming stress.
Losing just 5 to 7 percent of your body weight can reduce your risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Focusing on eating well and increasing physical activity will help you reach your weight loss goals.
Know your carbohydrates, as these are foods that cause an increase in blood sugar. You don’t have to stop eating them altogether, but it is important to understand which choices are the best for managing blood sugar. Here are some tips:
- Eat MORE Fiber: Focus on complex carbohydrates. They contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals that are essential to our health. Choosing high-fiber carbohydrates is key to helping you stabilize your blood sugar by slowing down the absorption of sugar into the blood. These foods include: whole grains (whole-grain bread and pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, whole grain tortillas, etc.), vegetables, beans, lentils, and fruits.
- Eat FEWER simple sugars: These foods are absorbed quickly and cause a spike in your blood sugar. Reducing the amount of simple sugar you eat will help to keep your blood sugar within the recommended range. Foods and drinks that have higher simple sugars include soda, juice, baked goods, cookies, table sugar, candy, etc. Instead, consider reaching for sugar-free beverages instead, such as water, unsweetened iced tea, unsweetened sparkling water or other low-calorie drinks.
- Choose a LEAN Protein: Choosing lean proteins will help with weight management, and may also help to reduce your risk for high cholesterol and other chronic diseases. Consider choosing poultry (chicken and turkey); fish and other seafood; lean meats; eggs; dairy (such as low-fat milk, Greek yogurt, low-fat cheese) tofu, beans, lentils. It’s important to cut back on high-fat, high-sodium meats, such as hot dogs, sausage and bacon.
- Focus on HEALTHY Fats: To help decrease the risk of heart disease and support a number of your body’s essential functions, recommendations are to eat more unsaturated fats, limit saturated fats and avoid trans fats. Choose these first: Avocado; Oils (olive, canola, avocado, safflower); Nuts (peanuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, cashews, etc.) and fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, etc.)
- Portion Control: You don’t have to stop eating your favorite foods; the most important thing is to manage how MUCH you are eating. When you measure your portions, it helps to:
- Manage blood sugar
- Control blood lipids
- Manage your weight
Look at the food label to determine what the recommended serving size is for a particular food. If you eat ONE serving, you are eating the number of calories and grams of fat, carbohydrates, and protein listed on the food label. If you eat TWO servings, you have to multiply each number by 2.
You can focus on eating well-balanced meals by using the MyPlate method, to be sure you are eating all of the important food groups. Log on here for more information: www.choosemyplate.gov.
- Fill up half your plate with non-starchy vegetables such as: green beans, carrots, salad, or broccoli.
- Fill ¼ of your plate with lean foods. These include: chicken, turkey, eggs, fish & shellfish, lean meats, and Greek yogurt.
- Fill the last 1/4 of your plate with grains and starchy vegetables. Remember to focus on whole grain and starchy vegetable sources.
You may also want to check out this list of “best food choices” from the American Diabetes Association for some guidance.
It is recommended that people be physically active for 30 minutes each day, 5 days per week. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to go to the gym. There are plenty of ways to get moving. Some examples include:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Park farther from the door when running errands
- Tackle your yard work or plant a garden
- Take a walk on your lunch break or after dinner
- Play outside with your children/grandchildren
- Wash your car by hand
Track your steps and set a goal to use as motivation/
Weight loss, healthy eating, and regular physical activity are easier when you have a support system to hold you accountable and provide encouragement. Reach out to your spouse, family members, or close friends to let them know how they might be able to assist you. Your support system also includes your doctors and dietitian, healthcare professionals who can provide detailed guidance for managing your health.
The great news is that prediabetes is reversible. Taking the appropriate steps now will help you to prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes, as well as prevent multiple related complications such as heart disease, vision impairment, nerve damage, and kidney disease.
If you’d like to speak with a dietitian about how to manage your blood sugar, ask your doctor for a referral to see our outpatient dietitian. You can also attend our free diabetes education and awareness program on the first three Mondays of every month. The classes are held from 5:30 to 6:30 pm at Lompoc Valley Medical Center. Call our Registered Dietitian Hayley Esdaile for more information, at (805) 737-5788.