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Diagnosed With Prediabetes? Here's What You Can Do

Making some small changes can help you manage or potentially reverse a prediabetes diagnosis.

Prediabetes? Exercise and nutrition can help manage the condition.
Nov 13 2017

Recently diagnosed with prediabetes? You're not alone.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 84 million Americans have prediabetes and the World Health Organization estimates that globally the number of people who have prediabetes will reach 472 million by 2030. Unfortunately, about 90 percent of people who have this condition are unaware of it.

Prediabetes is a health condition in which blood sugar levels are above average—a fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL is considered prediabetes—but they are not high enough for a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. The good news is that a prediabetes diagnosis can be reversed and changes to your diet and lifestyle can help make a difference. Here's what you can do.

Assess Your Diet

Making changes to your diet and managing a healthy weight are the most effective ways to control your blood sugar.  Small changes like increasing your intake of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables have been shown to effectively lower your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. If you're not sure where to start, ask a health care professional such as a dietitian to help you make a food plan. In the meantime, here are some strategies that you can start implementing today:

  • Portion control. Choosing the correct portion sizes is key to managing your blood sugar. The American Diabetes Association has created a simple tool called "Create Your Plate," which helps those living with diabetes or prediabetes create a well-balanced plate with the proper portions. On a 9-inch plate, fill 25 percent with protein, 25 percent with grains and starches and 50 percent with non-starchy vegetables.
     
  • Healthy snacking. When choosing snacks, opt for those that are low in sugar, sodium and unhealthy fats to avoid blood sugar spikes and weight gain.  Healthy options like protein-rich dairy products, fruits including apples or blueberries, vegetables or a small serving of nuts are all good options.

  • Plan Ahead. For those with busy lifestyles, planning ahead and keeping on-the-go snacks handy are key.  Try Glucerna® shakes and bars as an option. Made by Abbott, Glucerna products have blends of carbohydrates that are slowly digested and absorbed to help minimize blood sugar spikes. With fewer than 200 calories per shake and less than 160 calories per bar, they're a smart, portion controlled choice. 
     

Cut Back and De-Stress

Certain lifestyle factors, like stress, drinking alcoholic beverages and smoking can make it harder to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Reducing stress is definitely easier said than done, but it's important to make time for yourself and take steps to manage it. Also, limiting alcohol to one glass per day and quitting smoking can help stabilize blood sugar levels. Instead of winding down after a long day's work with a few beers, try taking a walk, spending time with friends or family or meditating.

Get Moving

There's no doubt that exercise is great for everyone, but it's vital for those with prediabetes. During physical activity, the body uses excess sugar in your bloodstream and carries it to your cells and muscles to be used.  In a study published in Diabetes Care, people with diabetes who exercised moderately for 30 minutes three to four times a week maintained healthy blood sugar levels for almost three hours longer each day than the non-exercising group—lessening their exposure to the damaging effects of high blood sugar.

If you are starting an exercise routine, build up gradually to get the total recommended 30 minutes a day (break it into increments if needed!). 

Don't Go It Alone

Many of these changes are easier said than done, which is why it's crucial to have support. Talking to family and friends can help to relieve stress, but if you have questions about your diet that you need answered now, try Glucerna's Ask a Dietitian online chat service or find a registered dietitian nutritionist in your area. A dietitian can weigh in and provide you with accurate information to help you along the way. If you have personal medical questions, reach out to your doctor and make regular appointments to track your progress.

Being diagnosed with prediabetes doesn't have to turn your world upside down. While it's normal to feel a little overwhelmed when facing something new, taking these steps may improve your chances of changing your diagnosis. You'll be surprised to see how a few simple changes can add up over time to a healthier way of life.