Just “a touch of sugar?”
If you’re among the 84 million Americans with prediabetes—meaning you have higher-than-normal levels of blood sugar, but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes—don’t shrug it off. Just like diabetes itself, prediabetes is linked to early death and some of the scarier complications associated with the disease, such as nerve damage, blindness, and amputation. Many times it’s curable with exercise and a healthier diet, but once it progresses to type 2 diabetes, it’s significantly harder to treat. Avoid these four roadblocks between you and a healthier future.
Prediabetes Roadblock #1: Thinking a little weight loss won’t help
The landmark Diabetes Prevention Program study, which followed 3,234 people with prediabetes for three years, revealed that everyday changes could produce results: switching up eating habits helped participants lose weight while more physical activity reduced insulin resistance and the risk for diabetes. The surprising part? Trimming just 5 to 7 percent of their body weight (that’s 12.5 pounds for a 180 pound person) and exercising slashed the odds of developing full-blown diabetes in adults at high risk for the disease by a whopping 58 percent. You can improve glycemic control by losing what’s known as visceral fat—the deep belly fat that settles in your torso, wraps itself around your internal organs and messes with your liver’s ability to regulate blood sugar.
Smart Move: Start with shrinking your portions. “Getting back to healthy serving sizes is an important part of what we teach in prediabetes classes,” says Sara Painter, RD, a certified diabetes educator at the Deaconess Health System’s Diabetes Center in Evansville, Indiana. Not interested in pulling out the measuring cups and scale? A study published in 2017 in the journal Obesity found that eating prepackaged, portion-controlled meals can lead to greater weight loss than figuring out portion size on your own. Try this: Reserve half of your plate for vegetables and fruit, one-fourth for lean protein like chicken, fish, or lean red meat, and one-fourth for a starch like potatoes or rice.