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Prediabetes: Create Your Action Plan

By Mary Buescher, RD, CDE

Prediabetes is a condition characterized by glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that one out of three adults in America, or over 84 million Americans, have prediabetes. If left untreated, about one-third of people with prediabetes will progress to Type 2 diabetes within five years. These statistics can seem scary, but if you receive a prediabetes diagnosis, this does not mean you will develop Type 2 diabetes. With simple yet effective lifestyle changes, it is possible to reverse your diagnosis of prediabetes. In fact, receiving a prediabetes diagnosis can be a powerful motivator to enforce lifestyle changes that will help you to become a healthier, happier version of yourself, and reduce your chances of a future diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes.   

Now what can you do about it?

If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, losing a small amount of weight and getting regular physical activity can lower your risk for developing Type 2 diabetes and help to reverse your diagnosis. Research has shown that people with prediabetes who lost 5-7 percent of their body weight and increased their physical activity, reduced their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. The benefits were even more significant for those who were 60 years or older, as their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes dropped by 71 percent. These are impressive results for such small changes.

Small changes in diet and physical activity that are easy to maintain day after day will help you achieve success in weight loss, and further prevention of developing Type 2 diabetes. Take the following steps to help reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes:

First, define your weight loss goal.

For someone who weighs 200 pounds, 5-7 percent weight loss is 10 to 14 pounds. For most people 5-7 percent weight loss is realistic and achievable. Calculate your 5 percent weight loss goal by multiplying your weight by 0.05, and your 7 percent weight loss goal by multiplying your weight by 0.07. This will be your initial range of weight to lose.

Next, make physical activity a daily priority.

Regular physical activity means getting at least 150 minutes a week of brisk walking or a similar activity. That’s just 30 minutes a day, five days a week. If you have not exercised in a while, start with a smaller amount of time and build up to 30 minutes, or break up time into three 10-minute segments that you can do throughout the day. Schedule the activity into your daily calendar and honor this time like you would attend a scheduled appointment or meeting. Try to avoid picking activities that are affected by a change in weather, and be ready with an alternative activity that can be done inside. For instance, if rain prevents you from walking or biking outside, consider doing a similar activity at a fitness club, park district facility, high school track or shopping mall.  Finally, choose activities you enjoy, and find a friend to exercise with to help improve adherence to that activity.      

Last and most importantly, adjust your eating habits.

Better food choices play a big role in helping someone achieve weight loss, and reduce progression to Type 2 diabetes. Take some time to write down what and when you eat in a typical day. This activity will help you notice where you can make changes to your food intake. Try to reduce the number of meals eaten out at restaurants or fast food establishments, and avoid fried foods and sugary beverages. Take some time to clear out junk foods and processed foods from your pantry and fridge. Replace these foods with more vegetables and fruit – both fresh and frozen are good options. Take some time to shop, prep and cook a few meals each week and work to limit snacking.

Try to make one change to your physical activity and diet at a time, and be consistent in order to build these changes into healthy and sustainable habits. If making changes on your own seem difficult, you can take a more structured approach by joining a Diabetes Prevention Program or seeing a dietician or diabetes educator. These resources can help you create structure, encouragement and support. Small changes can make a big difference in treating prediabetes and helping to prevent Type 2 diabetes, and there is no better time to take action than right now. 

DuPage Medical Group will have a Diabetes Prevention Program starting in 2019, call 630-873-8787 to learn more. 

For additional information on DuPage Medical Group Diabetes Care and Education, visit DuPageMedicalGroup.com/services/diabetes-care/.

Topics and Subtopics: Diabetes Care

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