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Have you been diagnosed with prediabetes? Being told that you have prediabetes means that you are at a risk of being diagnosed with diabetes.

Diabetes is a condition that affects the entire body. The implications of having diabetes can be devastating. Some of the health problems associated with diabetes include high blood pressure, neuropathy, kidney disease and stroke.

As a Registered Nurse and Health and Wellness Coach, I see many clients that have told me they are prediabetic. The good news is that by making lifestyle changes, you can reduce, and even prevent your risk of getting diabetes.

The “gold standard” approach to diabetes prevention involves weight loss, diet and exercise.

It’s these lifestyle changes that will help you prevent diabetes – and other chronic preventable diseases, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and even some types of cancer.

A recent study indicated you can achieve nearly 80 percent of the effect of doing all three with just a high amount of moderate-intensity exercise.

The study included 150 people with prediabetes who were divided into four groups. One group followed a gold-standard program that included a low-fat, low-calorie diet and moderate-intensity exercise.

Here are 8 things you can start doing today to live a healthier life:

1. Lose weight. The biggest risk factor for developing Type 2 diabetes is being overweight. By losing between 5 – 10 % of your bodyweight, not only do you reduce your risk of diabetes, but you also reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. As you lose weight, blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar improves.

2. Eat healthier. You need to follow a healthier diet, but you don’t need to go on a diet. Dieting and quick fixes don’t work. I know this from my own experience, and if you have ever been on a diet, you know this as well. We all want a quick fix, but trust me when I tell you that it’s the small everyday changes that will help you lose weight and keep the weight off.

3. Eat less sugar. Include low glycemic foods to keep your blood sugar balanced. This means watching your sugar intake and swapping out processed foods for whole foods. Fruits like berries are a good choice, as are most vegetables, nuts and lean meats.

4. Eat less fat. Notice I didn’t say “don’t eat fat.” Thank goodness the fat free diet has been debunked! You need fat to survive, it’s just a matter of choosing the right types of fats – and watching your portions. Fats contain 9 calories per gram – as opposed to carbs and protein – which contain 4 calories per gram. That’s why eating too much fat can cause you to gain weight. Healthier fats to add into your diet include “heart healthy” fats –  foods like avocado, nuts and salmon.

5. Learn to read labels. The Nutrition Facts label will tell you how much sugar, fat and carbohydrates are in your food. And always look at the portion size. I recommend that my clients use measuring cups and spoons, as well as a food scale. I can guarantee you that the bowl of cereal you pour yourself in the morning is more than a serving.

6. Eat a variety of foods. Foods with only carbohydrate may raise blood glucose more quickly than those that also contain fats and protein. Foods that are high in carbohydrate eaten with a meal that also contains fats and protein will have a slower impact on blood glucose than those eaten alone.

7. It’s okay to snack. If you want to keep your blood sugar level throughout the day, you may want to try eating three meals and two snack per day. This will prevent your blood sugar from plummeting midday – which is usually when people tend to grab candy, coffee or soda for a “pick me up.”

8. Move your body. Exercise is key, especially when it comes to glucose control. Keep in mind that you don’t need to spend hours at the gym. Engage in moderate intensity exercise, which in the above study was equivalent to 7.5 miles of brisk walking a week. By  exercising, insulin sensitivity is increased, so your cells are better able to use any available insulin to take up glucose during and after activity.  This is one example of how exercise can help lower blood glucose in the short term. And when you are active on a regular basis, it can also lower your A1C.

Image courtesy of radnatt at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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