There is a lot of misinformation about nutrition leaving many feeling guilty, stressed, and deprived of food that can discourage people from changing lifestyle and eating habits. Pre-diabetes and diabetes are lifelong problems that need to be addressed sooner than later. Prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. It can be reversed. Most effective way to reverse this condition are 3 small doable changes to systematically achieve the goal.
- Time is now: Many can ignore pre-diabetes thinking it is not a problem. Every day, the window of opportunity to reverse it reduces. The longer the issues prolong, the less likely to reverse diabetes, and long term diabetes risk factors. Change your diet choices and reduce or lose weight. Weight loss reduces the risk of diabetes and other risk factors associated with overweight/obesity. And losing weight, increases energy levels, self-efficacy, reduces despair, results in less worry, and so on. Therefore, if you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes, consult a nutritionist who can guide you to help reverse the condition.
- What you eat matters: Our body needs nourishment and nutrients to thrive. Eating healthy helps in managing blood sugar, cholesterol, healthy weight, and reduces the risk of other diseases and hospitalization. Diet rich in whole grains, fruits, veggies, and beans, boosts health, and is the foundation of health. Plant foods are resources of phytonutrients – they boost health and prevent cancer along. Eating a plant-rich diet along with varieties of berries is associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. They are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory, rich phytonutrients that are heart-healthy. Drinking fresh brewed tea and coffee without sugar is associated with diabetes prevention because of flavonoids in them. Adding cinnamon, cardamom, and other spice has added benefits and they are ‘sweet’ in taste as well. Oats and barley are good for gut microbes and improve insulin sensitivity. Start your day with oatmeal topped with berries and cooking them with milk gives added protein as well. Non Starch veggies are filling, low in calories, and carbs that are packed with disease-fighting nutrients & phytonutrients. Eating such foods is not going to keep you deprived but healthy.
- Small changes are better than big ones: No one becomes fat in a day or by occasionally overeating. Workout regularly – walking on treadmills, taking the stairs, etc. Eat the rainbow-colored fruits and veggies and eat three balanced meals. Too much sitting is harmful even if you exercise afterward. It increases the risk for diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. Do light activity every 30 minutes/1 hour for 2-3 minutes. For example, when you talk over the phone, stand up and take the call or r do push ups in your office, or squats between tasks and make it a habit. Stretch your hamstrings when you are waiting in the copy machine or waiting for your coffee to be brewed. Avoid sugar and sweetened beverages, including honey, sugar, and sugar-sweetened beverages. If you want sweetness, add fruit in your water, use stevia, or monk fruit for sweetness. Freeze fruits and have them when you have a sweet tooth, or try a small serving of dark chocolate.
Habits will stick if they are rewarded. For example, you have a habit of eating sweets after dinner. In order to change this habit, change the cue that triggers this habit. Maybe sitting down after a meal is the trigger to grab the sugar treats. Instead, try taking a walk after a meal and reward with a fruit afterward. The reward has to come internally. E.g. Say you ate 2 extra servings of non-starchy veggies which was your goal, the reward is taking a walk around the house/treadmill or walking up and down the stairs. I.e. Do not let food be the reward, find non-food options as the reward. Pre-diabetes is getting over the guilt and empowering with the right knowledge. It is the not will power that brings change, it’s the knowledge and support that helps stick to the change you make. Practice makes one’s habit resolute for the long haul.