skip navigation

Understanding Diabetes – Tips for Prevention

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Understanding Diabetes – Tips for Prevention

What we should know about Diabetes

woman checking her blood sugar levels

Did you know that our bodies turn food into glucose which gives us energy? To use glucose as energy, our body needs insulin, a hormone that helps glucose get into our cells. If you have diabetes, your body may not make enough insulin, may not use insulin in the right way, or both. That can cause too much glucose to stay in the blood, which can cause health problems over time.

A diabetic has a Hemoglobin A1C of 6.5 or higher – this is measured by a blood test that your doctor will order to determine if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Your chance of getting type 2 diabetes is higher if you are overweight, inactive, or have a family history of diabetes.

What is Pre-diabetes?

Most pre-diabetics can develop Diabetes type 2 in 5 years if it is not well controlled. This means their glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes.

People diagnosed with prediabetes will have a Hemoglobin A1C ranging from 5.7 to 6.4.

Taking control early and making changes to your lifestyle can help decrease the chance of having a heart attack or stroke. If you have prediabetes, there are things you can do to prevent or delay getting type 2 diabetes. Healthy eating and being physically active can make a difference. Work with your doctor to set a plan to help you make healthier food choices and get regular exercise. If you smoke, work to get help with quitting smoking. Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop type 2 diabetes. Make sure to ask how often you should have your glucose levels checked. Your doctor may also talk with you about taking medication to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes.

General Nutrition Guidelines for Individuals with Diabetes

  • Achieve or maintain a reasonable body weight.
  • Eat at least 3 well-balanced meals each day. Try not to skip meals.
  • Eat at consistent times every day.
  • Spread carbohydrates evenly throughout the day because carbohydrates have the greatest effect on blood sugar levels.
  • Control portions sizes of carbohydrate rich foods to help control blood sugar levels.
  • Practice weighing and measuring foods to determine correct portion sizes and amounts.
  • Look for the “Total Carbohydrate” grams on Nutrition Facts Labels to determine carbohydrate content. Do not look at “Sugar” because sugar is included in the total carbohydrate. Be aware that “Sugar Free” and “Fat Free” foods usually contain carbohydrates which will need to be worked into your meal plan.
  • Limit or avoid sweets such as candy and regular soda pop. Remember that these foods contain high amounts of carbohydrate so if you would like to work them into your meal plan, keep the portion sizes small.
  • Include fiber-rich foods in your meal plan by choosing whole grain breads and cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables. High fiber diets help to lower your risk for heart disease.
  • Avoid too much total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol by reading the Nutrition Facts Labels on food items. Also choose lean cuts of meat (look for the words “loin” or “round” and try baking, broiling, roasting, steaming, or grilling meats to reduce the fat content). Low fat diets help to prevent weight gain and lower your risk for heart disease.
  • Use unsaturated fats (like oils, nuts, and seeds) when cooking and baking instead of saturated fats like butter and lard to help raise your good cholesterol and lower your bad cholesterol.

Article created by Gigi Ganta, RN – Nurse Navigator – Restore First Health