A whopping 30.3 million children and adults in the U.S. are living with diabetes, and many Americans are unaware they have an increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. While these numbers may seem staggering, the good news is diabetes is manageable and, with a few lifestyle changes, you can even prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes affects the body's ability to make or properly use insulin. This leads to high blood glucose, or sugar, levels in the blood. The most common form, Type 2 diabetes is associated with certain risk factors that place some individuals at a higher risk than others for developing the disease.
Are You at Risk?
Type 2 diabetes is associated with certain risk factors, including older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose metabolism, physical inactivity and race/ethnicity. African-Americans, Hispanic/Latino-Americans, American Indians, and some Asian-Americans and Native-Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders are at particularly high risk for Type 2 diabetes and its complications.
Research has demonstrated that Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed through moderate diet changes and physical activity. When you take steps to prevent diabetes, you also will lower your risk for possible complications of diabetes such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nerve damage and other health problems. That's a big reward for you and your family and friends. A registered dietitian nutritionist is the one of your best teammates when making these lifestyle changes.
Managing Your Diabetes
For many people with diabetes, smart eating and active living are enough to control their blood sugar level and prevent the complications of the disease. General healthy eating tips to help manage diabetes include:
- Limit foods that are high in added sugar.
- Eat smaller portions, spread out over the day.
- Make your carbs count by choosing whole grains, fruit and vegetables over sugary drinks and refined, processed foods.
- Eat a variety of whole-grain foods, fruits and vegetables every day.
- Eat less saturated fat and focus on healthy fat sources such as avocados, olive and canola oil, and nuts.
- Limit your consumption of alcohol.
- Use less salt.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, an RDN can create a simple eating plan tailored just for you, taking into account your weight, medicines, lifestyle and other health problems. The expert advice of an RDN can help you manage your diabetes while ensuring you get the nutrients your body needs.