Managing Pre-Diabetes and Preventing Diabetes

Preventing Pre-Diabetes

Changing what you eat and do can help you avoid diabetes.  

Pre-diabetes is a serious medical condition that puts you at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Pre-diabetes is also very treatable, and if you have it, there is a good chance you can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by making changes in your diet and increasing your level of physical activity.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body does not produce or use enough insulin to be able to turn glucose into energy. Glucose is the sugar and starch that comes from the food you eat, which fuels your body.

Insulin is a hormone that carries glucose from your blood into your cells. Without enough insulin, sugar builds up in your blood and can cause serious health problems.

Pre-Diabetes

Pre-diabetes is when your fasting blood glucose (blood sugar) level is above normal. To test for pre-diabetes, your doctor will take a sample of your blood after you have fasted overnight:

Normal fasting glucose: 60 to 99 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl)

Pre-diabetes (impaired fasting glucose): 100 to 125 mg/dl

Diabetes: 126 mg/dl or higher on 2 occasions

Healthy Tips for Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

If you have pre-diabetes, you should talk to your doctor about developing a lifestyle plan to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends increased physical activity and, if you are overweight, losing 5-10 percent of your body weight. Your doctor may also want you to take medication if you have a family history of diabetes, you are obese, or have other cardiovascular risk factors (high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, or a history of heart disease).

Below are tips to help you keep pre-diabetes from progressing to Type 2 diabetes:

Exercise Every Day

Since muscles use glucose for energy, activities like walking, bicycling, and gardening help to lower the sugar in your blood.  Aim for 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise on all or most days of the week. Even 10 minutes at a time can be beneficial with a goal of 150 minutes per week.

Lose Weight If You Are Overweight

Extra body fat contributes to insulin resistance, which makes it more difficult for insulin to lower blood sugar levels, and increases the likelihood of pre-diabetes. Your doctor will likely tell you to look for areas in which you can cut your calorie intake by 250 to 500 hundred calories per day, such as:

  • Eating smaller portion sizes
  • Reducing the intake of foods such as cookies, desserts, bread, pasta, tortillas, rice, crackers, pretzels, and chips
  • Choosing water in place of sodas, fruit juices, lemonade, smoothies, sweetened coffee and tea drinks, and alcohol
  • Substituting lowfat and no-fat dairy products for whole fat ones
  • Eating lean cuts of meat and fish, and removing skin from poultry

Choose Your Carbs Carefully

Be careful about the kinds of carbohydrates you eat and spread them evenly throughout the day.  Remember, it is important to control your portions and not overeat!

Healthier choices:

Whole grains (whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa, whole oats, bulgur), beans, lentils, fruits, and non-starchy vegetables (spinach, carrots, broccoli, green beans).

Minimize intake of:

White bread, white rice, pasta, pastries, potatoes, sugared soda, highly processed foods (cakes, cookies, chips, and candy). Remember, the more processed a food is, the less fiber, vitamins, and minerals it has — leaving behind mostly starch.

Avoid:

Pastries, sugared soda, highly processed foods (cakes, cookies, chips, and candy)!  These foods are mostly empty calories with no nutritional value which can add extra calories to your diet.

Move Toward Healthy Carbs

  • Don’t over do it on carbohydrates at one meal or snack. Combine a carbohydrate with lean protein and unsaturated fat for a more satisfying meal.
  • In place of fruit juice with toast and jam, eat a slice of whole grain bread with peanut butter or with an egg white omelet and have half a banana on the side.
  • Choose high fiber, unrefined, whole grain carbohydrates (for example, whole wheat bread in place of white bread). You still must watch your portion sizes.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Avoid all trans fats. Eat healthy, unsaturated fats instead (e.g. olive oil, canola oil, nuts, avocado, or fatty fish), but remember that all high-fat foods are dense in calories.