VA Maryland Health Care System
Tips to Prevent or Delay Type 2 Diabetes
Many people do not know that type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed, but studies have proven that it can! Even if you have a family history of diabetes or you have other risk factors for diabetes, there are important things you can do to stay healthy.
Pre-diabetes, diagnosed with a blood test, is when blood glucose (sugar) levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. “Many, but not all, people with pre-diabetes are overweight. Some may have other problems like high blood pressure or high cholesterol,” says Dr. Nanette Steinle, interim chief of Diabetes and Endocrinology for the Veterans Affairs (VA) Maryland Health Care System.
Risk factors for diabetes include age greater than 45 years, family history of diabetes, being overweight, not exercising regularly, high cholesterol or high triglycerides, high blood pressure, and having a background prone to diabetes such as African-American, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native. Women who have experienced diabetes during pregnancy are also at risk.
If you have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or are concerned about your risk of diabetes, Dr. Steinle and the VA Maryland Health Care System offers some things you can do to significantly reduce your risk of developing the disease. Many of these tips can also help you lose weight, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Increase your physical activity.
- Work up gradually from what you are doing now to aim for at least 30 minutes a day of moderate-intensity physical activity such as brisk walking, yard work, or bicycling.
- Make your whole day more active:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Get off the bus one stop early and walk the rest of the way
- Get up and down out of your chair or walk around during TV commercial breaks
- Make healthier food choices.
- Fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruits
- Choose non-starchy vegetables, such as cooked greens, salads (with low-fat dressing), or broccoli instead of corn, peas, or potatoes
- Cut back on fatty and fried foods, such as French fries, fried chicken, cheese, creamy sauces, ice cream, cakes and pastries
- Choose whole grain foods like 100 percent whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber
- Choose water and other calorie-free drinks instead of regular soda, sweet tea, juices or other sweetened drinks
- Choose non-fat or low-fat dairy such as skim milk and low-fat yogurt
- Choose lean, skinless meats and get some of your protein from beans or lentils
- Read food labels
- Note the amount of energy (calories) per serving and the serving size
- Avoid hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, as these types of fats may contribute to insulin resistance
- Watch your portion sizes.
- This is especially important for high-calorie fatty and sugary foods and drinks
- When eating out, ask for appetizer portions, split an entrée with someone, or ask for a to-go box and pack part of your food to bring home
- Wait 15-20 minutes after your first helping before deciding on seconds—it takes that long for your digestive system to tell your brain you are full!
- Avoid all-you-can-eat buffets
- Don’t eat snacks straight from the package. Put your portion in a bowl and put away the rest.
- If you are a Veteran enrolled in the VA Maryland Health Care System, call the Appointment Center at 1-800-463-6295, ext 7333 and get scheduled for the next MOVE! Weight Management Program orientation class. If you are a Veteran and not enrolled in VA health care, take the moment to enroll. It’s free to enroll. Veterans can enroll online at www.maryland.va.gov - just click on the blue “Become a Patient” button.