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Stop a Prediabetes Diagnosis from Advancing to Diabetes

By: Janet Mayer, Guilford County Lifestyle Coach and Health Educator


Dr. Gregg Gerety, Chief of Endocrinology at St.Peter’s Hospital in Albany, N.Y. says being diagnosed with prediabetes “is an opportunity to initiate lifestyle changes or treatments, and potentially [slow] progression or even prevent diabetes.”

These 6 lifestyle changes can help you be healthier:

1. Move More

Becoming more active is one of the best things you can do to decrease your risk of diabetes.You can begin by building more activity into your daily routines by taking the stairs or parking farther away from the entrance to a building you will go in. You can try doing some stretches during TV commercials, says author Patti Geil, MS, RD. “Physical activity is an essential part of the treatment plan for prediabetes, because it lowers blood sugar levels and decreases body fat,” Geil says. The recommendation is to exercise 150 minutes per week (ideally 30 minutes a day - five days/week). You should always be cleared by your healthcare provider(s) first before beginning any exercise regime.

2. Lower Your Weight

If you are overweight (BMI = 25 to 29.9) or obese (BMI = 30 or more), you might not have to lose as much as you think to make a difference. In the National Diabetes Prevention Program study, people who had prediabetes and lost just 5% to 7% of their weight (10-14 pounds for someone who weighs 200 pounds) cut their chances of getting diabetes by 58%.

3. See Your Doctor More Often

"See your doctor every three to six months", Gerety says. If you're doing well, you can get positive reinforcement from your doctor. If it's not going so well, your doctor can help you get back on track. "Patients like some tangible evidence of success or failure."

4. Eat Better
  • Load up on vegetables, especially the less-starchy kinds such as spinach and other leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, and green beans. Aim for at least 4 to 5 half-cup servings a day.
  • Add more high-fiber foods into your day. Shoot for a minimum of 20 grams.
  • Enjoy fruits in moderation - 1 to 3 half-cup servings per day.
  • Choose whole-grain foods instead of processed grains -- look for whole grain or whole wheat as the first ingredient on nutrition labels for your bread, snacks, and cereals!
  • Swap out high-calorie foods. “Drink skim milk rather than whole milk, diet soda rather than regular soda,” Geil says. “Choose lower-fat versions of cheese, yogurt, and salad dressings.”
  • Instead of snacking on high-fat, high-calorie chips and desserts, choose fresh fruit, or whole wheat crackers with peanut butter or low-fat cheese, Geil says.
5. Make Sleep a Priority

If you are not getting enough sleep regularly, it makes losing weight harder, says author Theresa Garnero. A shortfall of sleep also makes it harder for your body to effectively use insulin and may increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Set good sleep habits by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Relax before you turn out the lights. Don't watch TV or use your computer or smartphone when you're trying to fall asleep. Avoid caffeine after lunch if you have trouble sleeping.

6. Get Support

Losing weight, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly is easier if you have people helping you out, holding you accountable, and cheering you on, says Ronald T. Ackermann, MD, MPH, an associate professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine. Consider joining a group where you can pursue a healthier lifestyle in the company of others with similar goals. The Life in 24 program can provide you with support from a certified coach and from a group of peers, who are facing similar challenges as you. A certified diabetes educator may also help you learn about what you need to do to prevent your prediabetes from becoming diabetes. You can find one through the AmericanAssociation of Diabetes Educators.

“Make a conscious choice to be consistent with everyday activities that are in the best interest of your health,” Garnero says. “Tell yourself, ‘I’m going to give it my best. I’m going to make small changes over time.’” Those changes will add up!



Ronald T. Ackermann, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine.

Theresa Garnero, APRN, BC-ADM, MSN, CDE, author, Your First Year With Diabetes, American Diabetes Association.

Patti Geil, MS, RD, CDE, author, What Do I Eat Now?, American Diabetes Association.

Gregg Gerety, MD, chief of endocrinology, St.Peter’s Hospital, Albany, N.Y.

American Diabetes Association:"Prediabetes" and "Prediabetes FAQs."

National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse:"Diabetes Prevention Program."

Adapted from: © 2016 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.