Wake up Call: Prevent Diabetes

If your doctor has mentioned you have pre-diabetes, it may be a blessing in disguise. Being given this information is an opportunity to turn your health around before you develop type 2 diabetes. Research proves type 2 diabetes can be prevented so take the news seriously and get busy. You can reverse developing diabetes.

Pre-diabetes occurs when the muscle, fat and liver cells begin to resist accepting blood glucose carried by the hormone, insulin. With no place to go, blood glucose builds up in the blood forcing the pancreas to produce more insulin and creating a condition called “insulin resistance.” Belly fat, unlike fat in other parts of the body, produces hormones and other substances that cause chronic inflammation further promoting insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease.

Being overweight or obese plus a lack of physical activity are the main causes of pre-diabetes. An estimated one in three adults may have pre-diabetes and most people who do don’t know it. Other risk factors include having a close relative with diabetes (parent, brother, sister), being older than 45 years, or having had gestational diabetes.  A person also may have high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels putting them at greater risk for stroke and heart disease.

Reversing insulin resistance is about healthy lifestyle habits, healthy eating and physical activity, enough to lose at least five to seven percent of your body weight or 10 to 14 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds. Your doctor also may prescribe a medication called metformin.

Think of positive changes.

  • Cut fat and portion sizes.
  • Add more fruits and vegetables to your meals and snacks.
  • Limit processed foods and fast foods that contain salt and often a surprising number of calories.
  • Add daily physical activity of at least 30 minutes, no less than five days a week, and what is more activity than you normally do. Waking briskly is perfect. You also can break your activity into chunks of time equaling 30 minutes.
  • Work with a dietitian-nutritionist who can provide nutrition therapy, meal planning and counseling.
  • Be patient, persistent and positive. What you tell yourself is important. Allow yourself to enjoy the process of becoming a healthier you.

For a more structured approach, consider joining the National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) offered in your local community. This program is a replica of the research proving diabetes can be prevented and is now offered at sites across the United States. Check it out at:  http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention.  In the near future, the DPP will be a Medicare covered benefit. November is National Diabetes Month, a month set aside to create awareness. For more information, go the American Diabetes Association website, www.diabetes.org.

Find a healthier you.

Cooking Tip


Have you heard about “cauliflower rice”? Make your own or buy it frozen at Trader Joe’s.  Cauliflower Rice with Vegetables makes a nutritious side dish without much calorie or carbohydrate value.  Cut one cauliflower head into small florets; trim off stems.  Pulse cauliflower in the bowl of a food processor until it resembles rice. Reserve 1/2 of the cauliflower rice for the recipe and freeze remainder. In a skillet heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté one bunch of chopped green onions until tender. Stir in 2 cups small broccoli florets, 3/4 cup frozen peas, 1/2 cup frozen corn, one tablespoon fresh chopped parsley. Cook, stirring constantly until vegetables are tender. Add one tablespoon sesame seeds, salt and pepper to taste. Finally stir in one to two tablespoons of low sodium soy sauce. If mixture is too dry, stir in 1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken broth. You can add different seasonings and vegetables for variety.

Written by: Mimi Cunningham, Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist, Diabetes Educator

Mimi Cunningham is a dietitian-nutritionist living in Eagle, Idaho. Her nutrition specialty is diabetes education and management. She loves writing about embracing healthy eating as fun plus a route to good health. She serves as a member of the Idaho Foodbank board of directors addressing food insecurity as a challenge to good health for Idaho children and adults.

On behalf of Smart Strategies for Successful Living, our sincerest appreciation goes to Mimi Cunningham for her contribution to our community website and commitment to healthy living and aging.