Managing and Preventing Diabetes

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There is a high chance that either you or someone you know has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Community Health Status Indicators 2015 report (CHSI 2015), Lee County has an age adjusted diabetes death rate of 29.2 (per 100,000). This number is above the national average age adjusted diabetes death rate of 24.7. If not properly managed, possible complications from the disease include nerve damage, kidney disease, blindness, cardiovascular disease, and more. CHSI 2015 states that diabetes can decrease life expectancy by up to 15 years.

However, there is good news! This disease can not only be managed, but also prevented through healthy choices. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to talk with your health care provider about what lifestyle changes you can make to improve your health. Let’s celebrate American Diabetes Month this November by making at least one healthy lifestyle change!

Some possible ideas include:

Be more active. Little changes can create big impacts. Try parking farther away in the store parking lot. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Or, find a new walking buddy. Increasing activity helps one achieve a healthy weight. It may also help increase your body’s response to insulin. Being regularly active long term can help to lower A1c levels.

Prepare more meals at home. Cooking meals at home helps to prevent the temptation of fast food, which is often high in calories and low in nutrients. Prep meals on Sunday for lunch the upcoming week. Or pick a night of the week that the family can make dinner together.

Create healthy holiday traditions. Many traditional family recipes appear at holiday meals. Unfortunately, they are not always the healthiest. Add a platter of fresh fruits or veggies to the traditional line up of food to encourage some healthier choices. Once the food has settled, go for a walk or play games and enjoy the cool outdoor weather.

Learn more about the foods you eat. When was the last time you read a nutrition label on a package of food? Reading food labels provides you with the basic facts on the food and allows for you to see if it is a good choice for you. Looking at the ingredients and nutrients that are in food can help in making smart decisions.

Eat mindfully. Enjoy your food and avoid distractions while you eat. Turn off the TV, keep your cell phone in the other room, and focus on the flavor of your meal. This simple tip can help in eating less and controlling portion sizes.

Healthy goals are often made after the new year; however, they should continue to be made all year! Partnering with a friend, family member, or coworker is a great way to support and encourage each other. Try writing down a goal that works for you and posting it to the refrigerator as a reminder for November.

The Lee County Cooperative Extension’s goal is to provide the residents of the community with research-based knowledge. For more information on food safety, wellness, and nutrition please contact the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, Alyssa Anderson, MS, RDN, LDN at 919-775-5624.