Did you know 1 in 11 Americans has diabetes?1 Some estimate that close to half of the U.S. adult population will develop diabetes within their lifetime.2 While diabetes is manageable, the complications that may come with it may not be. This includes but is not limited to heart disease, blindness, neuropathy, kidney disease, leg ulcers and amputations, and stroke. That’s why American Diabetes Month, which is recognized every November, is so important. It creates awareness about this growing public health concern.
Fortunately, type 2 diabetes and its potential complications can be prevented in part by eating right, self-monitoring, exercising, managing stress, and not smoking. In terms of eating right, here are six essential tips to diabetes prevention:
- Avoid skipping meals. This can lead to low blood sugar levels, which will likely leave you feeling tired, shaky, unable to focus, and hungry. In addition, when we skip meals, we often tend to overeat later in the day. Try having smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day to help keep blood sugar levels stable.
- Watch portions. To keep you aware and accountable of how much you are eating, try keeping a food journal. Track everything you eat and drink throughout the day, including the amounts. You may even want to weigh and measure your portions to help you accurately record what you are having as well as to help you get accustomed to proper portion sizes.
- Fill up on non-starchy veggies. Why? They’re packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber, the latter of which can help keep blood sugar levels stable and you feeling fuller longer. Try to have at least one serving of non-starchy veggies, like broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, green beans, or leafy greens, at each meal.
- Control carbohydrates. Choose healthy carbohydrates rich in dietary fiber, like whole grains, starchy vegetables, and fruits, and space your carbohydrate intake throughout the day for optimal blood sugar control.
- Balance your meals. Include a variety of foods at each meal. Think lean protein, non-starchy veggies, healthy fats, fruit, dairy, and whole grains.
- Watch the salt & fat. Read Nutrition Facts Labels and look for options that are low in sodium and contain little to no saturated fats or trans fats. Here is a guideline to help you determine if a food is low or high in sodium and/or unhealthy fats: five percent or less of the daily value of any nutrient on the nutrition facts label is considered low while twenty percent or greater is considered high.
- Take Action Now to Prevent Diabetes. Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics Website. http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/diseases-and-conditions/diabetes/take-action-now-prevent-diabetes. Published November 2014. Reviewed September 2015. Accessed November 2016.
- November is American Diabetes Month. American Diabetes Association Website. http://main.diabetes.org/dorg/adm/adm-2016-fact-sheet.pdf. Published November 2016. Accessed November 2016.