Employee & Community Health

Your Care Team shares tips on how you can prevent diabetes

11/2/2015 by Dr. Ramona DeJesus

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About one in three U.S. adults have pre-diabetes. If your fasting blood glucose (sugar) level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes, you're pre-diabetic. If you do nothing to improve your health, you could develop Type 2 diabetes within five years. 

Here's the good news. A weight loss as little as 5-7% through lifestyle changes can cut your risk of developing diabetes up to 70%. To start taking charge of your health, here's what you can do: 

  • Make smart choices. Find the high-fat and high-calorie foods in your meals and substitute leaner meat, boiled or baked foods instead of fried, skim or 1% milk. 
  • Think "less often" and "smaller amounts." You still can enjoy foods higher in fat and calories, just scale back. 
  • Develop a healthy-eating routine. Regularly eat three meals a day. Eat slowly to help you better digest food and be more aware of when you're full. Don't do anything else when you're eating, such as watching TV, texting or reading the newspaper. 
  • Move those muscles. Start by choosing activities your like! Set a goal of 150 minutes or 2.5 hours a week for physical activity. Get going by exercising 15 minutes for four days a week (60 minutes), then work slowly, steadily and safely up to 150 minutes a week. 
  • Manage stress. Avoid stress whenever you can. To manage stress, try to say "yes" only to important matters, be physically active and reach out for support. Be aware of signs you're getting stressed and take a five- to 10-minute timeout. 
  • Stay motivated and focused. Set up mini goals that you know you can achieve for early success. Those small steps add up! Celebrate your achievements (just not with food). 

Remember, you're making changes for a lifetime of better health that also will help you look better and feel stronger. While changing your behavior does involve hard work and persistence, you can do it. And you'll be delighted with the results, whether it's a drop in those blood-glucose numbers or being able to walk up the stairs without puffing. 

Dr. Ramona DeJesus is a consultant in Employee and Community Health's Division of Primary Care Internal Medicine. She serves as a physician volunteer at Good Samaritan Health Clinic and is the lead researcher in a study that looks into the impact of wellness coaching in improving healthy behavior among those with pre-diabetes.