The Good News Behind a Prediabetes Diagnosis
More than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes, according to a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An estimated 84 million individuals have prediabetes, a condition that if not treated often leads to Type 2 diabetes within five years. Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2015.
Fortunately, prediabetes can be reversed through simple changes in lifestyle and mindset. The first step is to make good health the number one priority. When wellness becomes a priority, life is more enjoyable. Take an inventory of daily habits and notice patterns. Begin to take steps to create an environment of wellness.
Once a proper mindset is developed, follow these steps to turn your health around:
Add in activity – Many people lead a sedentary life. Sitting at a desk all day can make it difficult to fit in an exercise program. Start by just moving. Add a minimum of 30 minutes of movement daily. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Break it up into 10-minute increments by doing things like lifting dumbbells while watching TV, or going for a 10-minute walk, doing some yard work, or even playing with the kids. Join a formal exercise class a couple of times a week, or do something enjoyable like dancing or a favorite sport. The idea is to move every single day in some way.
Crowd out stress – Stress can have a negative effect on blood sugar. Learning how to handle stress in a productive way improves everything. Perhaps getting stuck in traffic or issues at work cause stress. Take time to breathe deeply and repeat positive affirmations. This practice can help to turn things around in the moment. Mindfulness meditation can be beneficial in relieving anxiety and helps one recognize destructive thought patterns that cause emotional suffering.
Get enough sleep – According to Forbes magazine, a Mayo Clinic study found that “When people are sleep deprived, they make worse food choices than when they’re well rested.” In a recent WebMD article, Mark Mahowald, M.D., director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center, in Hennepin County, states, “There is some evidence that sleep deprivation could lead to prediabetic state.” According to Mahowald, the body’s reaction to sleep loss can resemble insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.
Re-evaluate your diet – It seems that everyone knows that eating highly processed and sugar-laden food is not healthy. Many people do not count what they drink as part of their daily food intake, but liquid calories can add up quickly and they don’t really register in our minds as food. Be careful about seemingly healthy choices like “natural lemonade” juices, or sweetened green tea. Often these drinks contain more than the recommended daily allowance of 24 grams of sugar in just one drink. Replace with water or unsweetened herbal tea to add in hydration and crowd out empty calories.
A well-balanced whole food diet that is lower in carbohydrates is the best option to manage blood sugar. Healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, olive oil and coconut oils are satiating. Pay attention to the carbohydrate, sugar and fiber content in processed foods. Label reading is an important component for blood sugar control.
Try to limit your carbohydrate intake to about 45 grams per meal. Subtract the grams of fiber in the food from the total grams of carbs to get a net carb reading. For example, a serving of beans has 18 grams of carbohydrates and seven grams of fiber. Subtract the fiber from the carbs and get a “net” of 11 grams of carbs. Since it is important to limit total carbohydrate intake, adding fiber contributes to the feeling of fullness and as a result, fewer total carbs will be consumed.
Add in five, half-cup servings of veggies daily. Veggies add the most nutrition for the least calories. Green, non-starchy veggies are best as they are high in fiber and usually low in carbs. Limit fruit to two servings a day because it’s high in natural sugar. Do not count the carbs in green non-starchy veggies; however do include the carb count for fruits and starchy vegetables.
Get support – Family and friends may be a great support system, but can sometimes unknowingly sabotage efforts to shift to a healthier lifestyle. Joining a group or workshop can help with accountability and offers support for lasting change. Don’t try to alter everything at once. Start with one small step and keep building momentum. Eventually the new habits will create a new normal, and that is the best news of all.
Rosanne Ryder and Christine Emmi are certified health coaches and the co-founders of Shift Wellness Consulting. They specialize in natural prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes management, mindfulness meditation and healthy weight loss. They provide workshops for community organizations and businesses as well as individual coaching. For more information, call 508-287-7631 or visit ShiftWellnessConsulting.com.