In the United States, 26 million people of all ages are living with diabetes. Another 79 million adults have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
If left undiagnosed or untreated, diabetes can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke, amputation and even death. With early diagnosis and treatment, people with diabetes may prevent the development of these health problems.
Are You At Risk For Diabetes?
If you have a mother, father, brother or sister with type 2 diabetes, you are at risk for type 2 diabetes. If you have a family history of diabetes, make sure you share this information with your doctor.
You can’t change your family health history, but knowing about it can help you change your future.
Women who had gestational diabetes when they were pregnant are at risk for developing diabetes in the future, and so is the child from that pregnancy.
Being overweight puts you at risk for type 2 diabetes. The good news is that you can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by losing a small amount of weight and by being more physically active.
For example, a person who weighs 200 pounds needs to lose about 10 to 14 pounds or about a 5 -7 % weight loss. Aim to become more active like walking for at least 150 minutes a week.
How Can I Take Charge Of My Diabetes?
Research has shown that people with diabetes can lower their risk for serious health problems related to diabetes by managing the ABCs of diabetes – A1C (blood glucose), blood pressure, cholesterol – and stopping smoking. Talk to your health care team about how to manage your A1C, Blood pressure, and Cholesterol.
Learn the ABCs of diabetes management.
A – Get an A1C test. This is your “report card” for blood glucose (also called blood sugar) control over a three-month period. The A1C goal for many people with diabetes is below 7%. High blood glucose levels can harm your heart and blood vessels, kidneys, feet and eyes.
B – Know your Blood Pressure. According to the American Diabetes Association keep yours under 130/80. High blood pressure makes your heart work too hard and may lead to a heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.
C – Check your Cholesterol. Aim for a LDL (”lousy”) cholesterol under 100 and a HDL (“healthy”) cholesterol over 40. LDL cholesterol can build up and clog blood vessels leading to a heart attack or stroke. HDL cholesterol helps clear away cholesterol from your blood vessels.
What Can You Do?
Balance Your Meals
Good eating habits are important. Of all the foods you eat, carbohydrates (which include starches, sugars, fruits and vegetables) have the most effect on blood sugar.
- Fill 1/4 of your plate with grains or other starches. Choices include breads, tortillas, rice, pasta, dried beans, corn, peas, white and sweet potatoes.
- Cover 1/4 of the plate with fish, meat, poultry, or other protein sources. Grill or broil meats, and trim fat and skin.
- Put color on your plate. Choose a mix of non-starch vegetables, such as salad, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, and cauliflower. Fill 1/2 of the plate with these foods.
- Add a piece of fruit or a roll to finish the meal.
- Reduce salt by eating fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned. Also, try using half the salt a recipe calls for.
- Season with fresh herbs or lemon instead of salt and butter.
- Use canola or olive oil instead of butter or lard.
- Split sweets and treats with a friend or family member. Or save the rest for another day.
To start, work toward being active for 30 minutes a day. You can do it all at once. Or, you can break it into three 10-minute sessions. To add movement to your day:
- Go for a 10-minute walk after each meal. Take along the dog or a family member for added fun.
- Explore a museum, aquarium, or zoo.
- Go to a farmers’ market. This is a great way to exercise and get fresh air. It’s also a good place to buy healthy fruits and vegetables.
- Use stairs instead of the elevator.
- Park your car in the space farthest from where you’re going.
- Walk around the store or the mall before you shop.
- Put on music and dance for a few songs.
- Rake leaves or pull weeds.
Taking charge of your diabetes can be easier if you set goals and make a plan. Managing diabetes isn’t easy, but it can save your life.
Need some extra help?
Our registered dietitians meet daily with people living with diabetes and are experts in helping with meal planning, exercise and the daily challenges of coping with diabetes.
Looking for cooking ideas?
Sign up for a “Carb-It Smart” cooking class at Dierbergs Markets – cosponsored by Missouri Baptist Medical Center and taught by one of our dietitians. Check out the class schedule at www.dierbergsmarkets.com