If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, it is important to understand what that means. Simply put, it means you have elevated blood sugar, but not high enough to qualify for a diabetes diagnosis yet.
And if you take measures to change your life, you might never have to qualify for that diagnosis.
Here are seven steps anyone with prediabetes should take now:
1. Exercise. This doesn’t mean you must exercise two hours a day, every day. It simply means “become a more active person.” Walk the dog twice a day, walk with friends, take a yoga class, etc. Physical activity lowers blood glucose levels and reduces body fat.
2. Lose a few pounds. Losing just a small amount of weight can make a huge difference. The Diabetes Prevention Trial found people who were prediabetic and lost 5 to 7 percent of their body weight would lower their odds for a diabetes diagnosis by 58 percent.
To put this in perspective, if you weigh 200 pounds, to reach 5 percent weight loss would mean losing 10 pounds, which would lower your risk.
3. Visit your doctor regularly. Regular checkups will help you keep focused on the goal of lowering your diabetes risk.
4. Eat healthfully. This doesn’t have to be rocket science. There is no magic trick to eating better. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, ditch the junk food, raise your fiber intake and choose whole grains over processed grains. Don’t forget to cut the high-calorie sugary drinks as well.
5. Have a support system. Changing your lifestyle isn’t easy. It is helpful to have a friend or family member who is committed to exercising with you. You can also join groups in your community that all have the same goal of achieving a healthier way of life.
6. Get some sleep. Not getting enough sleep will make losing weight difficult because it increases stress hormones in your body that, in turn, cause the body to store fat.
7. Get your mind right. A positive attitude will be the factor that tips the diabetes scale in your favor. Try your hardest every day to stick to your plan, but know that everyone is going to slip up. So don’t dwell on it, and try to do better tomorrow!
Make sure you speak with your doctor about the steps you are going to take to keep diabetes at bay. It will be good to have your doctor on board with your new lifestyle, and he or she will provide support and guidance.
Dr. William E. Kyle is a primary care physician with Memorial Health University Physicians Adult Primary Care Bluffton in Okatie. MemorialHealthDoctors.com