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Lower Your Diabetes Risk

Lower Your Diabetes Risk

November is Diabetes Awareness Month: What steps are you taking to lower your risk?

by Stefanie Rekdal, BS, RD, CDCES, CPT

The Diabetes Care journal of the American Diabetes Association reported Hemoglobin A1c reductions from Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) can be similar to, or greater than, reductions from taking medication.

This is great news for someone motivated to make lifestyle changes. To get you moving in the right direction, the following are my top 5 tips for controlling your blood sugar, whether you have diabetes or are working to prevent it from developing.

  1. All foods can fit if you watch your portions. There’s no need to carry measuring cups to your favorite restaurant when you have a guide for estimating serving sizes in the palm of your hand. Protein portions should be about the size of your palm. Snacks, such as fruit and nuts, should be a handful; and a fist is a great reference for eyeballing a baked potato or other healthy starch.
  2. Choose whole grains. While the food label may display a similar carbohydrate content for a slice of white bread and a slice of whole wheat bread, whole wheat bread is a better option. Refined grains, such as white bread, are highly processed and stripped of nutrients. Some of these nutrients may be added back to the bread (enriched), but the processing does the work of digestion that our body should be doing.

    Since your body doesn’t have to work very hard to break down the bread, it takes little effort to convert those carbs to sugar. This leads to a quicker and steeper blood sugar spike following consumption. Always look for the word “whole” in the ingredient list and choose higher fiber options. Some examples of healthy whole grains are quinoa, brown rice, popcorn, and oats.
  3. Fill half your plate with non-starchy veggies. Vegetables are a great source of fiber, which helps provide a feeling of fullness and satisfaction at meals. They have few calories, lots of vitamins and minerals, and add a pop of color to your plate!
  4. Move more. If formal exercise isn’t your thing, start small. Park further when shopping or going to the office, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and choose the restroom on the opposite side of the building. Set phone alerts to remind you to get up and go for a 1-2 minute walk every hour.
  5. Avoid extreme eating behaviors. Restrictive dieting often leads to failure. Ask yourself if the plan you’re following includes rigid rules, eliminates entire food groups, or promises a quick fix. If your answer to any of these questions is yes, it is unlikely to be a healthy and sustainable meal plan. Work with a Registered Dietitian who can meet you where you are and personalize a plan to fit into your lifestyle.