Monday Medical: Resolutions may prevent diabetes

Eating healthier, exercising more can reduce risk

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Good New Year's resolutions for someone who has diabetes are - believe it or not - pretty much the same as those for someone without diabetes. The following resolutions would help people with diabetes manage their blood glucose levels more effectively and might even help people without diabetes from getting it:

Exercise more. Set a measurable goal, for instance, "exercise for 30 minutes three times per week." Exercise has been proven to help the body use insulin more efficiently and effectively, and therefore lower blood glucose in people with type 2 diabetes.

Exercise helps people lose excess weight, which helps prevent diabetes. Research shows that losing five percent to seven percent of body weight can help prevent type 2 diabetes for several years.

Lose weight. Again, set a measurable goal, and make it realistic. As mentioned earlier, small amounts of weight loss can improve blood glucose levels or prevent diabetes. The more gradually and consistently weight is lost, the more likely it is that the weight will stay off!

Eat three meals a day. Eating consistent amounts at consistent times can help stabilize blood glucose levels. Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight. Some people have more success eating three meals and three snacks (or six small meals) each day.

Figure out what your "food triggers" are and why you eat what and when you do. Try to listen to your body: eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full.

Find ways to decrease/manage stress. Stress raises blood glucose levels. Managing stress can help improve blood glucose control. In addition, stress can trigger diabetes, so managing stress can slow the progression to diabetes for someone who has not been diagnosed yet.

Stress can be physical (infection, illness, pain), emotional (loss of a job, a move, death of a loved one), or hormonal. Examples of ways to manage stress include listening to music, going for a walk, calling a friend, seeing a counselor, or participating in an enjoyable activity.

New Year's resolutions can take any shape or form, but the most important thing is to set goals that are realistic and achievable. If we stick with our resolutions and achieve our goals throughout the New Year, we will have the added benefit of good health for many years to come. Have a Healthy, Happy New Year!

Jane K. Dickinson, RN, PhD, CDE, is the Diabetes Education Program Director at Yampa Valley Medical Center.

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