Diabetes Alert Day is observed and promoted annually by the American Diabetes Association serving as a wake-up call to bring attention to the seriousness of the disease and educating people about their risks for developing diabetes.
Diabetes is a chronic illness where the pancreas doesn’t produce enough (or sometimes any) insulin. When we eat carbohydrates, our bodies break them down into glucose, and insulin is required for our cells to transform and use the glucose as energy. When insulin builds up in the blood it causes diabetes.
While diabetes is common and can lead to a host of serious health conditions, it can be managed and sometimes prevented through a healthy diet. A person is more likely to develop diabetes as they age, if they are overweight or not physically active, and/or have a family history of diabetes and/or have prediabetes¹.
To evaluate your risk for diabetes, go to the American Diabetes Association website and
take their risk test at www.diabetes.org/risk-test.
Some tips to prevent diabetes include¹ ²:
Lose weight and keep it off. The ADA recommends people with prediabetes lost 7-10% of their body weight to prevent disease progression. Decide to make healthier choices, focus on portion control, and avoid fad diets. Slow, gradual weight loss is the key to long term success.
Follow a healthy eating plan. Eat a variety of healthy foods from all food groups, reducing sugar when possible and consuming small amounts healthy fats. Nuts, seeds, avocados, and vinaigrettes are all healthy choices. Manage your blood sugar by eating balanced meals and avoiding soda and processed sweets.
Eat more plant-based foods. Plant foods are full of vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients. They are also loaded with fiber. As fiber passes through the digestive tract, it cleans it out and take the bad stuff with it! Fiber rich foods also promote fullness and weight loss. It slows the absorption of sugar and promotes healthy
Be physically active. Studies show that regular exercise can improve blood sugar. Start where you are and build up to 30 minutes most days each week. Incorporate resistance training as able.
Have you already been diagnosed with prediabetes or at risk of developing diabetes? Follow these tips to eat to control your blood sugar with food:
1. Eat balanced meals at regular times every day. These meals should include protein, vegetables, carbohydrates, and healthy fat.
2. Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies. Choose whole fruits and a variety of different colored vegetables to ensure adequate consumption of phytonutrients.
3. Make at least half of your grains whole grains. Avoid processed foods with added sugars with little or no nutrition.
4. Exercise on a regular basis. Start where you are at and if possible, build up to 30 minutes per day 5 days a week.
5. Monitor your carbohydrate intake. Learn how to count carbohydrates or use carbohydrate exchanges to help gain glycemic control.
6. Learn how to read food labels. Pay special attention to serving size and how many servings come in a package, carbohydrates, and fiber.
7. Practice portion control. Being aware of serving sizes can help to decrease calorie intake, promote weight loss, and decrease risk for co-morbidities. Practice weighing and measuring portions, use smaller plates, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and eat in a setting where you feel relaxed.
8. Eat a plant-based diet. Research has shown that eating a plant-based diet can help improve insulin sensitivity.
9. Eat more fiber. A diet high in fiber can help to slow digestion and sugar absorption resulting in a slower rise in blood sugar.
10. Monitor alcohol consumption. If consuming alcohol, daily intake should be one drink or less for women and two drinks or less for men. Consider an addition to your regular meals and plan your calories accordingly. Too much alcohol (3 or more drinks daily) on a regular basis can contribute to hyperglycemia.
1 Mayo Clinic Staff. Diabetes Prevention: 5 tips for taking control. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-
conditions/type-2-diabetes/in-depth/diabetes-prevention/art-20047639. Accessed March 21, 2022.
2 Medline Plus. How to prevent diabetes. https://medlineplus.gov/howtopreventdiabetes.html. Accessed March