Getting diagnosed with prediabetes is a wake-up call, but it doesn’t mean you’ll definitely get diabetes.
With a few simple changes, you can prevent Type 2 diabetes. Here’s our step-by-step guide.
Has your doctor or clinic sister told you that you could be prediabetic? Prediabetes is when you have higher than normal blood sugar levels but they’re not high enough for a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Or perhaps you have a family history of diabetes and know you’re at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes (watch this 1 minute video to find out!)
While this can feel overwhelming, the good news is that if you act quickly, and make a few changes to your lifestyle, there is a lot you can do to prevent diabetes.
How to prevent diabetes
The EEL of TEEL is what you need to remember to prevent diabetes:
- Eat healthy food
- Exercise, a little every day
- Lose weight, if you need to
(The T stands for take your medication, which is only for people with diabetes who are on medication.)
Eat healthy food to prevent diabetes
If you change how you eat, you can lower your blood sugar. How? By cutting back on sugar, junk food and refined carbohydrates. This means no sugar in tea and coffee, cutting back on fast food , and avoiding refined carbs: white bread, pasta, and white rice, and cakes, cookies, sweets and sugary drinks.
Instead, choose green vegetables and salad, lean proteins (chicken, fish, eggs, beans) and wholegrain carbohydrates. Get started now by taking a look at our simple Diabetes Food Guide for what foods to choose, and how to eat to prevent diabetes.
Expert tip: Try and break your sugar habit with a 21 day sugar-free challenge.
Exercise, a little every day
So now you’re eating better. What’s next? Get moving and start doing some exercise. You don’t need to run a marathon or join a gym. It’s more important to find something you enjoy doing regularly, that fits into your daily routine. Over a few weeks, try to build up to doing 30 minutes of exercise every day. Go for a walk around your neighbourhood, download a fitness app, search for yoga or Pilates classes on YouTube, or read our guide for exercises that you can do at your desk — even during those Zoom calls that go on forever.
Lose weight, if you need to
Your third tool to prevent diabetes is to lose weight if you need to. This is because excess fat, especially around the tummy, can contribute to insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. (Here’s an explanation of insulin resistance). If you’ve started eating well and getting active, you may have noticed you’re losing a little weight already.
The next small, good habit is drinking 8 glasses of water a day – no fizzy drinks or juice. Find out our best weight loss tips here.
We said these changes were simple, and on one level they are. But we know that changing the way you eat, how much you move and your weight is also really challenging… Please join the Diabetic South Africans community to meet other people going through the same thing.
The good news? As well as preventing diabetes, you’ll probably see a lot of other benefits from these changes:better sleep, improved moods, more energy and strength, and being able to cope with stress more easily. One step at a time!
What to read next?
Eat healthy for diabetes: The one article you need to read about diabetes and diet.
Exercise, a little every day: The ultimate guide to diabetic exercise, including how to make it fun!
How to lose weight with diabetes: Expert tips to help you succeed.