National Diabetes Month
November is National Diabetes Month. This is an annual observance in which communities across the country team up to bring attention to diabetes. This year’s theme is Small Steps, Big Difference: Preventing diabetes is within your reach. The overall goal of this theme is to raise awareness that while prediabetes is a serious health condition, it can be managed or even reversed. Keep reading for the best prevention tips collected from NIDDK, the CDC and Harvard Health.
Step 1: Focus on Small Steps: Making changes to your lifestyle and daily habits can be hard, but you don’t have to change everything at once. It is okay to start small. In fact, focusing on taking small steps can lead to more successful results. Remember that setbacks are normal and do not mean you have failed, the key is to get back on track as soon as you can.
Step 2: Focus On Balanced Nutrition. It is important to avoid severely restrictive, fad diets and instead focus on proper balanced nutrition. Limit red meats, avoid processed meat all together, and choose nuts, beans, legumes, and lean meats like poultry and fish as your protein sources. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, and choose whole grains and whole grain products over highly processed carbohydrates. Most importantly, avoid processed foods and sugary drinks as much as possible!
Step 3: Engage in Regular Physical Activity. Research shows that exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, which is very important in preventing type 2 diabetes. This is because excess body fat, particularly if stored around the abdomen, can increase the body’s resistance to insulin. Exercise also helps to lower blood sugar levels and it boosts sensitivity to insulin, which helps keep your blood sugar within a normal range. For the best results, aim to engage in both aerobic exercise and resistance training.
Step 4: Quit Smoking (Or Never Start!) According to the CDC, smokers are 30–40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers. The more cigarettes you smoke, the higher your risk for type 2 diabetes. Research also shows that smoking after being diagnosed not only makes diabetes harder control, but it puts you at risk for a wide range of additional health issues.
Step 5: Manage Your Stress Levels. High stress levels that go unmanaged can have numerous negative effects on your health, such as poor sleep quality, weight gain, high blood pressure, etc. Over time, these conditions put you at higher risk for type 2 diabetes. To help manage your stress levels remember to choose positive and healthy methods, such as exercise, mediation, yoga, disconnecting from technology, or spending time in nature.
To learn more about National Diabetes Month and for more information about prevention, click here. This is a great area of focus for your wellness programs, as well. To get access to NIDDK’s National Diabetes Month toolkit and additional resources to share with your employees, click here!