Living with diabetes series

Preventing Type 2 Diabetes — Is It Even Possible?

Photo by Artem Podrez from Pexels

One of the first questions that comes to mind when we hear about diabetes is — can you actually prevent it?

Type 1 diabetes

Also called insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. We need the hormone insulin to allow sugar (glucose) to enter our cells to produce energy. When we eat, our digestive system breaks down food, and nutrients and glucose are passed into the bloodstream.

Type 1 diabetes can be caused by various factors including genetics (family history), or viruses. While type 1 diabetes typically appears during childhood or adolescence adults can also develop it. Although research is ongoing, there is no cure for type 1 diabetes. Treatment involves blood sugar management with insulin, diet, and lifestyle so that complications can be prevented.

What about type 2 diabetes? Can you prevent it?

But with type 2 diabetes, you can prevent it or at least delay it with a healthy lifestyle, keeping your blood sugar and A1c under control if you have a family history of diabetes, and getting plenty of exercise. In fact, there is even talk of reversing type 2 diabetes today.

Here are some tips to help you keep type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes at bay!

Tips to prevent type 2 diabetes and prediabetes

Use these tips to move more and make healthy food choices. Don’t forget to track your progress.

Healthy eating

Reduce Portion Sizes

  • Portion size is the amount of food you eat, for example, one cup of fruit. If you are trying to eat smaller portions, eat half a bagel instead of a whole bagel.
  • Put less on your plate.
  • Drink a large glass of water 10 minutes before your meal so you feel less hungry.
  • Keep meat, chicken, turkey, and fish portions to about 3 ounces.
  • Order one dessert and share it. Better still, eat fruit instead.

Use the plate method to balance your meal

1/4 protein
1/4 grains
1/2 vegetables and fruit

Eat smaller meals

  • Use teaspoons, salad forks, or child-size forks, spoons, and knives to help you take smaller bites and eat less.
  • Use a smaller plate.
  • Eat slowly. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to send a signal to your brain that you are full.
  • Focus on your meal while you eat instead of watching TV (people tend to eat more while watching TV).

Exercise

Move More Each Day

Find ways to be more active each day. Try to be active for at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Walking is a great way to get started and you can do it almost anywhere at any time and needs no special equipment except a good pair of shoes. Bike riding, swimming, and dancing are also good ways to move more.

  • Got kids? Show them all those dance moves you practiced when you were their age. Play with them. One thing I love to do is turn up the music and groove to it as I tackle housework.
  • Rather than call, email, or courier something, go over and deliver it personally if you can.
  • Use the stairs as often as possible rather than use the elevator. It is great cardio!
  • Invite your friend over for a walk, rather than catch up on the phone.
  • Spot jog when you watch TV. Or march. Or spot-cycle. Whichever works for you.
  • Enjoy shopping? Walk around your local mall. Window-shop! Leave your purse at home.
  • Get off the bus a stop ahead or park your car farther away from your workplace and walk the rest of the way.

Healthy choices

Healthy food choices can keep your weight in check and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Here’s what to do:

  • Eat more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
  • Cut back on high-fat foods like whole milk, cheese, and fried foods to reduce your fat and calorie intake.
  • Feeling peckish? Snack on a veggie. While shopping, buy a variety of vegetables.
  • Go for veg toppings like spinach, broccoli, and peppers if you love pizza (who doesn’t?)
  • Shop fresh and buy what is in season from the local market.
  • Enjoy your favorite veg and salad with low-fat macaroni and cheese
  • While cooking, use less oil and butter. Stir fry, broil, or bake with non-stick spray or low-salt broth.
  • Avoid random snacking while cooking
  • Cut down on salt by using herbs and spices to flavor your food
  • Choose foods that have little or no added sugar to keep calories in check.
  • Eat brown rice and millets instead of white rice.
  • When on the go, eat healthy by opting for a big veg salad when you eat out. Wrap what you can’t finish.
  • Skip the fries and chips and go for a salad.
  • For dessert, forget the ice cream and cake and opt for a fruit.
  • Drink water. Instead of orange juice, peel and eat an orange.
  • Use low-fat milk to cut down on fat and calorie intake.
  • Try to choose water rather than juice or soda.
  • Go for whole-grain bread, not white bread.
  • Include whole grains in your diet. Examples are whole-wheat bread, brown rice, oats, and millets.
  • Snack healthy on fresh fruit, a handful of nuts, and whole-grain crackers.
  • Don’t shop on an empty stomach. Eat a healthy snack before you leave.
  • Before you go shopping, make a list of what you need. This will avoid impulse buying.
  • Maintain a food journal to track whether you are eating healthy.
  • Avoid impulse eating. Which means not eating when you are bored or upset.
  • Make it a habit to read food labels. Go for foods lower in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, calories, salt, and added sugars.
  • Stress is one of the causes of type 2 diabetes. Learn to relax. Practice deep breathing, walking, listening to your favorite music. Enjoy a book or a long bath. Try meditation.

Preventing type 2 diabetes is easy by making healthy food choices, staying at a healthy weight, and moving more each day!

Stay healthy!

Disclaimer: The information in this post is purely for educational purposes only and does not substitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult your physician for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.

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