Are you at risk for Diabetes or Pre-diabetes? It is possible to be at risk without any obvious symptoms. Many risk factors can eventually push you into the pre-diabetes or diabetes spectrum. Unfortunately, some risk factors can’t be controlled, like race, ethnicity or having a family member diagnosed with diabetes.
Thankfully, there are controllable risk factors. A change in lifestyle can significantly reduce your chances of developing diabetes. As you read this, keep an eye out for some of these habits in your daily life. Start thinking of how you can make a positive change for the sake of your health.
Here Are 4 Things You Can Start Doing Today To Reduce Your Risk For Diabetes:
Eat A Balanced Diet
Here’s the truth; eating better should always be your number one priority for good health. A balanced diet can help with weight management, better control of blood sugar and cholesterol levels. But what makes a diet balanced?
Well, how you portion your plate and the foods you put on it is key. Canada’s Food Guide encourages filling half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. Since fruits, although healthy, contain sugars, Diabetes Canada recommends making that portion mostly non-starchy veggies. Try leafy greens like kale, spinach and arugula, cucumbers, bell peppers, mushrooms and more.
The other half of your plate should be split between proteins and whole grain foods. Some great protein options are: lean meats, fish, poultry, eggs, yogurt; and plant-based options such as tofu, edamame, beans and lentils. For whole grains, try higher-fibre varieties such as oats, bulgur, barley and whole grain breads or pastas.
Eating balanced meals is an easier goal to achieve if you plan ahead. Cooking in batches can drastically reduce the amount of time you spend cooking for the rest of the week. Get creative! Find ingredients that match these recommendations and see what you can whip together. Try some tasty, healthy recipes online. Alternatively, to make sure you are as successful as possible, a Registered Dietitian can help you develop a meal plan .
Curb Smoking And Drinking Habits
We all know smoking is a bad habit but can be really hard to quit. The chemicals ingested while smoking cause damage to cells throughout the body. This damage can result in inflammation. Insulin may not be as effective when there is inflammation in the body, thus increasing the risk of diabetes. Smokers are 30 to 40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-smokers.
A moderate amount of alcohol is alright, just keep in mind how much you’re consuming and how frequently. Certain alcoholic drinks contain high levels of sugar and calories (think cocktails like pina coladas, white Russians and chocolate martinis). You can check out this resource to learn how much alcohol you can consume, or if you should at all.
Having more than 10-15 drinks a week constitutes as heavy drinking. If you consume this amount, it could lead to changes in blood sugar and insulin levels. Your body’s sensitivity to insulin can be reduced, or there could be inflammation of the pancreas (known as pancreatitis). All of these can increase the risk of developing diabetes, or lead to complications for those already living it.
If you’re looking to cut back, try water, unsweetened teas or beverages with low-calorie sweeteners (like stevia). These are all good options for hydration as they contain few to no calories, no sugar and no salt.
Limit Consumption Of Processed Foods
Highly processed foods like sugary drinks, ice cream, French fries, cakes, some frozen entrées and deli meats may taste good, but they are not the best dietary choices.
Processed foods generally contain larger amounts of calories from sugar and/or saturated fats, and are often high in salt. Due to their high energy value, excessive consumption may cause weight gain. This in turn increases your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
As a general rule of thumb, try and have no more than 20% of your total food and beverage intake coming from processed foods. If you’re eating a balanced diet using the plate method described above, and planning your meals in advance, there will automatically be less room for processed foods.
Adopt An Active Lifestyle
The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) advises that exercising 30 minutes a day, for 5 days a week can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Even if you feel like that’s too much for now, you can try going for a long walk; or even try going up and down the stairs a few times a day.
Being active is a fun and unstructured way to exercise and prevent diabetes. Children and teenagers are increasingly at risk of developing type 2 diabetes due to their increasing sedentary behaviour, partly due to online activities. Screen time creeps up on adults as well. Put aside some time in your daily schedule to step away from the screen, get up, and get some fresh air. Sometimes, simply doing a fun activity makes all the difference.
It is estimated that 1.5 million Canadians have diabetes but do not know it
If you’re not sure, contact your doctor today as there are many treatment options available. We realize that making some of these changes we’ve outlined is much easier said than done. But you are not alone. There are many virtual resources that can help. As a start you can check out this site for events that are happening online
It’s never too late to make healthy lifestyle changes. Get started on your health journey today. You’ve got this!
360Care by Ellerca Health seeks to empower individuals to regain control of their health. We believe that with the right support and motivation, anyone can make and maintain the lifestyle changes necessary to live a happy and healthy life.
By using 360Care through your mobile device, you’ll have access to a team of health professionals (nurses, dieticians, diabetes educators, psychologists, and coaches) and your own personalized health plan, all dedicated to helping you reach your health goals.
From feeling better, relieving symptoms, and improving your quality of life, 360Care can help you to live your best life.