Have you been told you have pre-diabetes? Pre-diabetes is a diagnosis that basically means you are on the path to having diabetes unless you make changes. Typically, pre-diabetes is identified when the level of sugar in your blood is high, but not quite at diabetes levels. Your body may have trouble making enough insulin (the hormone that gets the energy from food into your cells) or your body resists the insulin you have.
Signs of diabetes, and sometimes, pre-diabetes include:
• losing weight in spite of eating more
• being more thirsty than normal
• feeling more tired than normal
• going to the bathroom more frequently
Who is at risk for diabetes and pre-diabetes? Your risk is higher if you:
• are overweight
• don't get exercise
• have a family member with diabetes
• are over age 45
• had diabetes during a pregnancy
• have high blood pressure and high cholesterol
• are African American, Hispanic, Asian American, or Native American
What can you do about it if you are at risk for pre-diabetes or have pre-diabetes? Think of it as a great big flashing neon warning sign. You can make some major changes that can make a big difference.
Examine your relationship with food. Do you eat when you are hungry or do you eat in response to emotions or boredom? Do you plan your meals or eat whatever you find? Try planning healthy meals and snacks. Make half your food vegetables. Switch from junk food sweets to fresh fruit, and from sugary drinks to water. Learn about the Mediterranean diet and fire up your grill.
Move more! Walk away from the screens that keep us all immobilized. Aim to walk, run, swim, dance, or another physical activity 30 minutes most days and increase to an hour once you get going. If you can’t do 30 minutes, try two 15-minute walks. If you are going to walk or run, get yourself some good shoes to support your body in motion. It would be good to add some resistance training, such as weightlifting, twice a week.
The eating and exercise changes should help you shed extra pounds. If you are overweight, aim to lose 5 or 10 percent of your weight. Getting to a healthy range can make a big difference in your pre-diabetes path to diabetes or to better health.
Some people with pre-diabetes, especially those with a BMI greater than 35, women, and those younger than 60, may also need medication. Your clinician may prescribe metformin to help regulate your sugar levels and prevent some of the damage that high sugar levels can cause. Medication is in addition, not in place of, healthy lifestyle changes.
But the first step in all of this is to look at yourself squarely in the eye and recognize that you are so worth it, that you need to invest time and energy in you, build a healthy relationship with food and exercise, and be good to your body. Everyone faces some ambivalence, giving up what they enjoy, while finding new enjoyment in healthier living. But nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.
Tell us what health topics you want, what questions you have by sending an email to [email protected]. Nancy Rudner is a workplace nurse coach, helping employees make healthy changes and navigate the health system, HealthAction.biz.