An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

by Teresa Myers RN/Certified Diabetes Educator Veterans Memorial Hospital

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. The vision of the American Diabetes Association is a life free from diabetes and all of its burdens. Raising awareness of this ever growing disease is one of the main reasons for designating November as Diabetes Month.
Nearly 30 million children and adults in the United State have diabetes. That is 1 in 9 people. In 2014 statistics showed 14% of the population was diagnosed with some form of diabetes. Between 2013 and 2014, another 38% of American adults had either been diagnosed or had unknown pre-diabetes. The estimated cost of treating complications associated with diabetes is approximately $245 billion dollars annually.
Pre-diabetes is a condition that causes the level of sugar in your blood to get higher than normal, but is not high enough to be called the more serious condition of Type 2 diabetes. What causes Pre-diabetes? Pre-diabetes occurs when your body cannot use insulin properly. The cells in your body “resist” working with the insulin produced by your pancreas. Many of the risk factors for pre-diabetes and diabetes are the same. Some of the risk factors you have no control over, such as age, heredity and ethnicity. Factors you do have control over are: the foods you eat, your activity level, your weight, the amount of stress in your life, and smoking.
 The old wives tale “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is true when talking about diabetes prevention. You CAN change the course and prevent pre-diabetes. Lifestyle changes you make can decrease your chance of developing pre-diabetes by 50%. These lifestyle changes include:

Lower your weight
Find a weight loss program that works for YOU. Programs with reinforcement programs may be more effective. Lose weight slowly and steadily. Aim to lose approximately 10% of your original weight over 6-12 months. Improve your eating habits: sit down at the table for your meals, focus on your food – do no other activities while you eat. Do not eat because you are bored, tired, stressed or sad.

Follow a
healthy food plan
Eat more fruits and vegetables, choose lean cuts of meat, avoid fast foods and cut down on saturated fats. Choose whole grains and fiber-rich foods. Eat less carbohydrates, starchy foods, refined sugar and eliminate or limit soda and other high fructose and sugary drinks.

Increase your
physical activity
Commit yourself to more activity. Find an “exercise buddy.” Exercise a little each day. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes a day of aerobic exercise. Do little things throughout the day to keep moving, such as parking further away from the store, use the stairs instead of the elevator, get up to turn the television instead of using the remote. Do leg lifts, tummy tucks, use hand weights or resistance bands while sitting or lying in bed.

Control your stress
Stress can contribute to weight gain, heart disease, and elevated blood sugar levels. Learn relaxation and stress management techniques. Find what works for you to relieve stress.

Avoid excess
alcohol intake
Drink only in moderation. This means one alcoholic drink per day for women and two alcoholic drinks per day for men.

Stop smoking
Ask your Doctor to suggest programs and/or medicines to help you quit smoking.
It is important to set modest, attainable goals for yourself. Start by making small changes instead of trying to do everything at once. You will be and feel more successful and will progress more easily. Contact the Diabetes Education Department at Veterans Memorial Hospital to learn more about diabetes prevention at (563) 568-3411.