Got pre-diabetes? Don’t wait for help to find you — you can start helping yourself today.
Caution: In the video below, Bill Nye uses the “F” word without abandon, and of course, you can expect vulgar humor from Amy. The reason I wanted to share this funny video is not to poke fun at those who “send it out to the universe” but as a reminder that you need to have a plan if you want to beat pre-diabetes.
You cannot just wing it day-to-day; you need a plan. Help won’t come to you — you have to help yourself. You need (you guessed it) … a plan.
Why You Need a Plan
Not everyone who has pre-diabetes needs to lose weight so weight-loss isn’t the only focus of pre-diabetes treatment.
Pre-diabetes is a medical condition that needs to be treated by making changes in your lifestyle, and, for some, may even require medication to help improve insulin response or lower to lower blood sugar. So what are these ‘lifestyle’ changes? That depends on the individual and may include a variety of things you will need to address that you may not even be aware of.
Here are a few examples of changes your health care provider will advice you to make.
Adopting a pre-diabetes-friendly diet (which, again, may vary from person to person) is important — even if you do not have to lose any weight. In fact, eating a diet high in unhealthy carbohydates and fats will only push you further along down the road to diabetes — even if you are already at an ideal weight.
If you are a vegetarian, you will need a plan your diet carefully because you may have to reduce (or give up) rice, bread, pasta, or other carbohydrates, or learn to combine certain fruits with protein and fat to reduce the carbohydrate impact on your blood sugar.
If you do need to lose weight you need to determine how much weight you need to lose and how you will do it safely. With pre-diabetes, simply cutting your calories may not be enough to help you lose all the weight you want if you simply eat smaller portions of unhealthy foods.
Losing weight will help your body and can improve your sensitivity the insulin your own body is making, but you have to keep that weight off and that is the hardest part for most people on diets. So you will also need a plan that keeps you on track once you meet your weight-loss goals.
Get More Sleep
A lack of sleep has been directly tied to a higher incidence of obesity and developing full blown type 2 diabetes. If you are not getting, good, regular sleep your body will not be able to perform at its best.
People who sleep less than six hours per night are more likely to develop impaired fasting glucose, or prediabetes, a study shows … During the six-year study period, participants who slept on average less than six hours a night during the work week were 4.56 times more likely than those getting six to eight hours of sleep to convert from normal blood sugar levels to impaired fasting glucose, researchers said. These findings took into account other factors such as age, obesity, and family history of diabetes.
No association was found in people who slept more than eight hours compared to those who slept six to eight hours. Source: WebMD
If you suffer from insomnia or sleep apnea, you will need a plan to help you sleep better. If you don’t have a regular bedtime or try to get by on little sleep, you may have to make adjustments in your work or personal life so that you can get the sleep your body needs.
Be More Active
Being physically active is important for many reasons. Being active can help you lose weight if you need to, helps make your body more responsive to its own insulin, can help reduce stress (another contributor to poor health), and can improve your mood.
How active? Again, that depends on the individual’s needs, health, and physical limitations. Just talking a 30-minute walk a couple times a week may not be enough
Studies have shown that a certain amount of regular exercise, coupled with a modest weight-loss, works as well to increase insulin sensitivity as Glucophage (Metformin).
No Excuses, Because You Are Worth It
If you are not sure what changes you need to be making in your diet and lifestyle talk to your doctor, or a registered dietitian. Can’t afford one? That is still no excuse to not take charge of your own life and make your own decisions. If you just wait around until you can talk to a medical professional you will be wasting time and your pancreas. Remember, pre-diabetes is not just a casual “you could do better” — it is your wakeup call. If it was called “Stage 1 Type 2 Diabetes” would you take it more seriously?
When developing your plan to attack pre-diabetes, it is important to remember that what works for others may not work for you so don’t just jump on a fad diet band wagon or magic cure-all you pick up at your local Wal-Mart. You will have to do some work on your end no matter what.
The bottom line is pretty simple: pre-diabetes means your body is not working properly and your pancreas is trying to tell you something. Give up the junk food, sugar soda, and crappy carbs. You don’t need a doctor to tell you how to do that. Instead of a bag of chip or candy, eat an apple or some carrot sticks and cheese. Eating sensibly is a great place to start.
Instead of thinking you have to simply lose weight, try to grasp the reality that what you really need to do is make healthy lifestyle changes all around to preserve your health. Weight loss is one of the benefits of eating better and being more active, but you should never lose site of the fact that your lifestyle changes are not just about looking and feeling better, but about ensuring you don’t end up with type 2 diabetes.