Diabetes Prevention

“Health is like money, we never have a true idea of its value until we lose it.” – Josh Billings

Preventive health measures are more important now than ever, as obesity is at an all-time nation high including the metrics of our youth. Obesity is considered detrimental to health due to its association with various serious medical conditions and an increased risk of developing chronic diseases, like Type 2 Diabetes. Also note, that (type 2) diabetes is completely preventable (or can be delayed) and once diagnosed, this cannot be reversed. Individuals may get their glucose levels to a non-diabetes range, but the beta cells have been damaged and the underlying genetic factors contributing to the person’s susceptibility to diabetes remain intact.

The good news, you can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes with proven, achievable lifestyle changes! Preventing diabetes is important for maintaining good health and reducing the risk of complications associated with the disease. Taking your health into your hands is one of the most important things you should be doing daily. Here are some key steps you can implement into your life to prevent diabetes:


      1. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess body weight, especially around the waist, is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy body weight for your frame can significantly reduce your risk. III-A has lots of programs and benefits to give you the tools to be successful.

      1. Eat a Balanced Diet: A healthy diet is crucial for diabetes prevention. Focus on eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Limit your intake of sugary and processed foods. Start with small changes to your nutrition and create new habits around healthy fuel. Start logging your food intake, looking at labels, or work with a health coach, nutritionist, or dietitian for support.

      1. Portion Control: Pay attention to portion sizes to avoid overeating. Controlling portion sizes can help regulate your calorie intake and prevent weight gain. Also becoming more mindful of the “why” you are eating. Do you have actual hunger ques? Or is it some sort of emotional eating. These tools will help you cut out additional calories your body doesn’t need.

      1. Limit Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates: High sugar and refined carbohydrate (white flour) intake can lead to insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes. Reduce your consumption of sugary beverages, sweets, and foods made with white flour. Start looking at labels! 4g of sugar is a sugar cube… this visual can be very eye-opening (stick to >24g/day for women and >36g/day for men).

      1. Choose Complex Carbohydrates: Skip the “great white hazards” and opt for whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat bread, and oats instead of refined carbohydrates. These have a lower glycemic index and help stabilize blood sugar levels which results in keeping you feeling fuller longer.

      1. Get Moving and Stay Moving: Regular exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy weight and improving insulin sensitivity. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, along with strength training exercises. The trick is finding something (or things) you enjoy and do it often! 5-10 minute burst of activities (aka “snacktivities”) are a great way to incorporate movement into your day when you are short on time.

      1. Manage Stress: Chronic stress can contribute to diabetes risk. Practice stress-reduction techniques like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing to help manage stress. Make a “dopamine menu”, which lists out things that make you feel good and de-stressed – and pick things off that menu to incorporate into your daily routine.

      1. Get Enough Sleep: Inadequate sleep can disrupt hormone levels and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. Having trouble getting in your zzz’s? Work with a health coach or physician to reevaluate your sleep hygiene routine.

      1. Limit Alcohol Intake: Excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to weight gain and increase diabetes risk. If you drink, do so in moderation.

      1. Quit Smoking: Smoking is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Quitting smoking is not only beneficial for preventing diabetes but also for your overall health. The III-A has great tobacco cessation benefits and coaching to help you quit and stay quit.

      1. Regular Preventive Visits: Regular check-ups with your primary care provider (PCP) can help monitor your blood sugar levels and assess your risk for diabetes. Undiagnosed cases of diabetes is very common, and early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for managing diabetes effectively and preventing complications. If you have risk factors, your PCP may recommend specific interventions. Knowing your (blood work) numbers and monitoring year over year is a very important part of prevention. The III-A has annual fall onsite wellness biometric screenings at no cost. This is a great place and time to get your bloodwork done annually.

    1. Know Your Family History: A family history of diabetes can increase your risk. Be aware of your family history and discuss it with your PCP.
      Preventing diabetes is about making long-term lifestyle changes and adopting healthy habits. It’s important to consult with your PCP for guidance, especially if you have specific risk factors or concerns related to diabetes. They can provide personalized advice and recommendations to help you reduce your risk. If you don’t have a PCP, please call the Benefits Line or Telehealth for help finding a PCP.
    By: Megan Smith