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Diabetics: Make Simple Changes

Today 24 million Americans are living with diabetes and 57 million have pre-diabetes. We also know the disease is afflicting more people at younger ages and at rates that are multiplying. This is a direct result of our widening waistlines and our less active lifestyles; however this is a highly preventable disease. As a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, I have had first-hand experience with patients who have been successful in turning things around.

Here are some quick tips to prevent the onset of diabetes:

1. Attain a healthy weight. Weight loss is one of the most meaningful things you can do to reduce your risk of developing diabetes. According to a large study, the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a 5-10 percent reduction (even 5, 10, or 15 pounds) of your current weight can make a big difference. The key is to set realistic, small goals and seek a social support network to help you reach them. In general, it is recommended that we become more active and eat smaller portions, here are a few more specific helpful hints regarding your weight:

Change your mindset. Make time to focus on yourself and your needs.

Keep records. Write down what and when you eat and drink for several days and use them to set a few nutrition goals. Ask yourself some questions:
-Are your portions too large?
-Do you eat or drink too many “extras” like sweets or alcohol?
-Do you snack too often?
-Could you choose better snack choices?

Make small tweaks to your existing habits, such as selecting a higher fiber cereal. Even small changes can bring about big rewards.

Forget fad diets. They often lack important nutrients and don’t stand the test of time.

2. Prioritize exercise. Slash your diabetes risk with regular exercise. The DPP showed that moderate exercise equals 30 to 60 minutes a day at least 5 days a week. An added bonus is that it helps with reaching or maintaining a healthy weight. Embark on a plan that includes physical activity you enjoy so you can stick with it daily. Find a time of day that is going to fit and make exercise a part of your lifestyle.

3. Plan to eat more fiber rich plant foods. You can add fiber by eating plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds. Including high fiber foods in your diet not only improves your overall health but also helps you gain control of your blood sugars. Fiber boosts fullness which keeps you satisfied longer while eating fewer calories. Choose a variety of plant foods prepared in various ways. The average person needs 20-35 grams of fiber daily.

4. Select healthy fats. A diet rich in healthy fats/oils (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) and low in unhealthy fats (saturated and trans fats) is known to lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Olive oil, peanut butter, nuts, seeds and avocados are all great choices. Don’t forget the omega-3 fats such as canola oil, ground flaxseed, walnuts, and fatty fish such as salmon. You may also benefit from daily inclusion of a cholesterol-lowering spread such as Promise Activ light which contains plant sterols clinically proven to lower cholesterol. Choose these healthy fats in moderation because they are high in calories which can add up quickly.

5. Reduce your intake of simple sugars. White rice, white bread, white pasta and white potatoes rapidly convert to sugar in your body causing a sharp rise in your blood sugar. Other culprits include sugary soft drinks and fruit juices. Over time, consuming a lot of these refined carbohydrates and sugar may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. Also, they contribute “empty” calories and make it more difficult to manage your weight.

So think prevention. Achieve a healthy weight and stay physically active. When it comes to reducing your risk of developing diabetes the tools are in your hands.

For more information on Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services click here or call 972.560.2655.

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