Does the thought of creating a prediabetes management plan leave you feeling overwhelmed?
It doesn't have to.
The truth is, enacting small lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of prediabetes — which refers to when your blood glucose levels are higher than normal yet not high enough to be diabetes, though your body is still insulin resistant.
While you can absolutely live a full life with diabetes, prevention should always be your first priority when it comes to your health. So what can you do to reduce your risk of diabetes in the future? Talk to your doctor about giving these tips a try.
Get Active (and Have Fun)
Did you know that exercise does more than just keep off the extra pounds? Physical activity also lowers blood sugar and improves your body's sensitivity to insulin, meaning your blood sugar is more likely to stay at a healthy level.
Now, you don't need to hire a personal trainer and drag your family to the gym every night to reap these benefits. Instead, find sustainable ways to get active regularly. A few ideas include:
- Game-ify exercise. Free apps can turn working out into a fun game. For example, Zombies, Run! places you in a "zombie apocalypse" where you complete missions — while running from the undead — if you want to survive. Another option is Charity Miles, where corporate partners donate money to charity every time you get moving.
- Swap out a regular drive for a walk or bike ride. For example, if on Sundays you drive to the grocery store, cycle there instead.
- Switch it up. A fun way to keep things interesting is to subscribe to a monthly fitness-focused service. You'll get new workout gear and apparel delivered right to your door that can inspire you to keep up healthy habits. Are you on a budget? YouTube is full of fun and free video workouts. Cue the '90s dance party.
Tweak Your Diet
Along with regular exercise, a nutritious diet plays a crucial role in diabetes risk management. A healthy diet can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight, which leads your body to manage insulin more efficiently.
Luckily, you don't need to live on cabbage soup to manage or ward off prediabetes. In fact, eating a diet focused on glucose management can be delicious. Your emphasis should be on fresh produce, low-fat proteins and fibrous starchy carbohydrates — yes, even whole wheat bread. Add these other tweaks and see what works for you:
- Check out these snacks for lower blood sugar.
- Try a specialized nutrition shake or bar, such as Glucerna, to help you manage your blood sugar levels, including in interesting recipes incorporating Glucerna.
- For inspiration, search for blood glucose management recipes online or learn more about 10 foods that can help manage blood sugar. Gorgeous images of tasty dishes can reshape your idea of what it means to eat healthy.
- Don't try to revamp your diet completely in one day. Give yourself small challenges, like giving up sugary drinks and leaving the salt out of your meals.
- Each week, build on the previous challenge with a new one. When you succeed, reward yourself with a nonfood treat, like a trip to the movies.
- Get your loved ones involved. It's much easier to tweak recipes when the whole family is on board. Remind them that it's in everyone's best interest.
Experts have noted that while eating right can help you regulate insulin, it can also lower your anxiety levels. That's important because chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, explains the Mayo Clinic, which can then lead to diabetes.
Diabetes care and prevention is just one reason to work toward stressing less, as regular anxiety can lead to a number of other diseases and distract you from sticking with your healthy lifestyle choices. The good news is actively working to lower stress levels can be enjoyable. Here are small steps you can take toward a low-stress life:
- Create a Zen area in your home where no work or negative thoughts are allowed. This is where you retreat to indulge in reading, journaling, stretching, taking a long bath — whatever relaxes you.
- Consider purchasing a prompt journal or a mindfulness coloring book to help you de-stress and focus on the present moment.
- Practice gratitude. It's been shown that thinking positively about your life can lead to a sustained improved mood.
- Get into yoga. There are so many different styles and levels of yoga, you'll likely find something you enjoy. You can find free videos online or try out a couple of the studios near you to find a good fit.
Prediabetes management doesn't need to be overwhelming. Instead of looking at everything as one big goal, take these steps one at a time. Over time, your small choices will add up to a healthier and happier lifestyle.