The more you know about diabetes, the better you can avoid or manage the disease. To learn more about the diabetes services at NCH, click here.
If you tend a garden, you know that it's better to pick a single weed today than to let it multiply and overtake your garden tomorrow. The road to type 2 diabetes is similar.
Picking out the "weeds" of inactivity and poor diet now can lead to a life free from diabetes later. In fact, recent research shows that weight control through diet and exercise can prevent most cases of type 2 diabetes.
"A lot of this is in the individual's hands," says Dipal Shah, DO, an endocrinologist with the Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH) Medical Group. She offers her top tips for diabetes prevention.
Control your portions. "We struggle in this country with portion control," she says. One solution? Use an 8-inch dinner plate. Research shows that using a smaller plate reduces caloric intake.
Divide and conquer. Now, look at how your plate is divided. "Half of your plate should be vegetables, one-fourth carbs and one-fourth lean protein. The people I see who have had the most success in terms of sustained weight loss tend to eat more vegetables," Dr. Shah says.
Count calories. Dr. Shah highly recommends downloading a calorie-tracking app or using an online calorie tracker. "We all—myself included—tend to think we're eating better than we actually are," she says. Log your daily diet to discover what you are really eating.
Be realistic. Dr. Shah often anecdotally talks with her patients about the documentary film, "Supersize Me," in which the main character eats fast food for one month and gains 24 pounds. "It takes him 14 months to get that weight off," she says. "Weight loss takes time. Start walking. Work up to 30 minutes a day, five days a week."
Be proactive. Anyone over 40—or an adult at any age with a family history of diabetes, risk factors or a history of gestational diabetes—should have a blood glucose screening.
If your blood glucose level reveals pre-diabetes or diabetes, don't panic. "It might be a good wake-up call for a lifestyle change," she says, adding that the advice above will help you proactively manage the condition—and prevent other serious diseases.