Pre-diabetes affects more than a third of American adults. And being pre-diabetic — meaning your blood sugar level is higher than normal but not high enough to merit a diabetes diagnosis — comes with serious health risks, including type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
Research shows that losing 5 to 7 percent of your body weight and getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week can help pre-diabetic people prevent diabetes. “But you don’t have to go on a strict eating plan or join a high-intensity fitness plan to achieve these goals,” says Sara Snowberger, Diabetes Prevention Program coach and dietitian with OhioHealth. “The focus is really on small lifestyle changes that you can maintain.”
Here are five simple changes to help you create healthy habits.
5 simple changes to create healthy habits:
1. Keep a food diary.
Food diaries are really valuable, Snowberger says, because they make you aware of what you’re eating and drinking. “Maybe you realize that you don’t eat any fruits or vegetables during the day, or that you don’t eat any whole grains,” she says.
2. Use MyPlate to guide healthier choices.
From recipes to suggested meal plans, MyPlate — the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s healthy eating guidelines — has plenty of suggestions on how to get more healthy food in your life. Need inspiration? Check out our favorite recipes here.
3. Get moving.
Log at least 30 minutes of planned physical activity on most days, Snowberger says. That could mean brisk walking, hiking or riding a bike. And it could be in smaller chunks if that fits your schedule better. “You could do three 10-minute exercises a day,” Snowberger says. The goal is to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week. (That’s the length of about one movie!)
4. Focus on cutting back on added sugar and saturated fats.
Packaged food — even “healthy” kinds — is often a culprit where extra sugar and saturated fats are concerned. Always look at labels, and you may be surprised at just how much sugar is in your morning yogurt or granola bar. Opt for fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains instead, and try to cut back on empty calories.
5. Find ways to manage your stress.
Don’t let stress get in the way of your healthy eating habits and fitness goals. From exercise to meditation, there are plenty of ways to keep your stress level in check.
Not sure if you’re pre-diabetic? Schedule an appointment with a doctor today to get tested.