So you have been diagnosed with prediabetes. What are your next steps?
First, don’t panic. This doesn’t mean that you will definitely get diabetes. While 70% of people with prediabetes will go onto develop diabetes, that still leaves 30% of people that do not.
Once you’ve understood that this is a manageable condition, you can start thinking about what to do.
1. Start moving
Exercise is really one of the best forms of medicine. Aim for minimum of 150 minutes a week of anything you enjoy that gets your heart rate up (dancing, swimming, walking, sport). This can be divided into 30 minutes 5 times a week, or 45 minutes 3-4 times a week. If you find this overwhelming, it’s always a good idea to start small: Aim for once a week and slowly build up.
2. Visit your Doc
Sounds obvious – but this is a really an essential part of managing your prediabetes. By visiting your doctor frequently (every 3-6 months) and checking your glucose and HbA1c levels you can keep track of your situation. This provides you with some sort of tangible goal and ensures that you will have someone to report back to, whether it’s for positive reinforcement or helping you get back on track.
3. Change your eating habits
Achieving balanced sugar levels is strongly associated with what you eat. Personalized nutrition will really help you figure out which foods will raise your blood sugars, and which foods will raise them less. For some people adding fat to their meal will improve their glucose response, and for others it might be adding a high protein food like chicken or fish. Other things to take into consideration is to pile your plate with non-starchy vegetables (think spinach, peppers, mushrooms), don’t over do it on the fruit and make sure you get enough fiber from foods like fruit, veg, nuts, beans, legumes and whole grains. Avoid sugary drinks, and try to eat foods in their natural form.
4. Lose some weight and keep it off
Making dietary changes and moving more will help with this. You don’t necessarily need to lose kilos of weight, even 5-7% of your body weight can reduce your chance of getting diabetes.
5. Stick with your habits
When it comes to behavior change – whether it is health related, or anything related, it is important to commit to the change before taking any action. This means being realistic and being aware of the difficulties that may arise, and thinking about how you can overcome them or continue to try your best even if you fall of the band-wagon now and again. Making sure you have support from your family and friends or health professional will help you with sticking to these changes. Setting clear goals and rewarding yourself for achieving these goals are also important at this stage. Remember it takes at least 12 weeks in order for behavior change to become more of a habit so give yourself some time to get used to these changes.
6. And our favorite – sleep 🙂
Sleep is one of those things that often gets forgotten about when making changes to your health. However, not sleeping enough can make it harder to lose weight and more difficult for your body to use insulin effectively. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day and night. Relax before going to sleep and avoid using your screen half an hour before bedtime.