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Derail Diabetes

Simple lifestyle changes can lower
your risk today

If you're one of the 79 million Americans with pre-diabetes, you may feel as if you're on a runaway train to "Destination: Diabetes." But what if there were switch tracks ahead? What if you could chart a course that could prevent diabetes?

It's not as hard as you think.

A clinical trial called the Diabetes Prevention Program reveals that a 7 percent to 10 percent reduction in body weight may help people with pre-diabetes prevent diabetes. "We're not talking about dropping five dress sizes," says Maria Justina B. Villano, MD, FACE, an endocrinologist at Northwest Community Hospital.

By losing just 14 pounds, a 200-pound person can seriously lower his or her diabetes risk. Dr. Villano offers these tips for success:

  • Control portions. "There's really nothing you can't eat. It's a 'how-much' question," Dr. Villano says. She urges patients to use an 8-inch dinner plate. Research shows that using smaller plates reduces caloric intake.
  • Don't eliminate favorite foods. "Most people who withhold foods end up craving them and going back to square one," she says.
  • Log your progress. Whether you use a high-tech tracking program or pen and paper, Dr. Villano urges patients to log food intake and exercise progress.
  • Keep it up. Chicago's harsh winters pose challenges, but don't fall off the fitness wagon! Enlist a mall-walking buddy, try cross-country skiing or walk up the five flights of stairs to your office daily.
  • Be realistic. Don't cause a train wreck by starting too fast. Try a beginner's running program, such as Couch to 5K. Aim to fill half of your dinner plate with vegetables. "Find ways to make changes, but make sure they are subtle enough that your brain doesn't want to revolt against them," Dr. Villano says.

As you progress, your waistline won't lie. Neither do the statistics. "The numbers speak for themselves," Dr. Villano says. "Fifty percent of people with pre-diabetes can prevent it from turning into true diabetes by changing lifestyle habits," she says.

Now that's the right track.

Maria Justina B. Villano, MD

Maria Justina B. Villano, MD

Endocrinologist • 847.725.8453 • nchmedicalgroup.com

  • Board Certified: Internal Medicine and Endocrinology
  • Medical School: University of the Philippines College of Medicine
  • Residency: Philippine General Hospital and University Hospital, University of Cincinnati

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Last Updated 04/10/2009