November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. Pause one minute and consider this: One out of every 10 people in the U.S. has diabetes, and another 34.5% have prediabetes. If all those with prediabetes developed diabetes, nearly half of our nation’s population would suffer this disease.
Those with uncontrolled diabetes are at increased risk for other chronic diseases and complications such as heart disease, kidney failure, gum disease, blindness, and loss of lower limbs, among others. The economic burden associated with diabetes is enormous. In Colorado alone, the annual total costs attributable to diabetes is $16,515 per person with diabetes. Imagine what you could buy with that money each year?!
Take control of your lifestyle and begin a life-long approach to keeping yourself healthy and free of diabetes! Take these three steps, one step at a time:
Be physically active
Physical activity can help you lose weight, lower your blood sugar, and improve your sensitivity to insulin, keeping blood sugar levels in a normal range.
- Aim for 30 minutes on most days of the week
- Walk, bike, swim, jog, and dance
- Garden or do yard work, clean the house, and choose stairs instead of the elevator
Adopt a healthy eating plan
Planning is the key to success, so think about your meals ahead of time and plan accordingly.
- Shop smart—make a shopping list to match your meal plan
- Avoid buying foods with added sugar
- Choose foods high in fiber such as fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and nuts. Fiber helps:
- Improve your blood sugar control, reducing risk for diabetes
- Lower your risk of heart disease
- Promote weight loss by helping you feel full longer
- Choose whole grains most of the time, which help reduce the risk for diabetes
- Choose whole wheat, brown rice, oats, quinoa, whole barley, and other whole grains
- In ready to eat foods, look for the word “whole” on the package and among the first few items in the ingredient list
- Avoid the latest diet trends which lack scientific evidence. They may have harmful long-term effects, and often include limiting or restricting particular food groups. Instead, make variety and portion control part of your healthy-eating plan
Lose extra weight
Even the smallest amount of weight loss can improve your health – by a great deal! If you are already at a healthy weight, stay there.
- Aim for gradual weight loss – weight lost gradually is more likely to stay off
- Start by aiming to lose just 5% of your initial body weight
- Do not become frustrated if, after some weight loss, it takes extra effort to lose more weight – this is natural and healthy
The American Diabetes Association recommends blood glucose screening if:
- You’re age 45 or older
- You’re an overweight adult of any age, with one or more additional risk factors for diabetes, such as a family history of diabetes, a personal history of prediabetes, or an inactive lifestyle