Understanding Pre-Diabetes & Diabetes: Lowering the Risks and Managing Blood Sugars

May 24, 2024

Welcome to my Q&A series with a recent question submission.

 

Understanding Pre-Diabetes & Diabetes: Lowering Risk & Managing Blood Sugars

Pre-diabetes and diabetes are metabolic conditions characterized by elevated blood sugar levels. While pre-diabetes is a precursor to diabetes, both conditions require proactive management to prevent complications and improve overall health. Lifestyle modifications, including weight loss, regular physical activity, and dietary changes, play a crucial role in lowering the risk of diabetes and managing blood sugar levels.  AND, yest it is possible to release weight even when you feel you have exhausted all options.

 

Pre-Diabetes vs. Diabetes

Pre-Diabetes:

- Pre-diabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.

- Individuals with pre-diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke if left untreated.

- Lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and increased physical activity, can help reverse pre-diabetes and prevent progression to diabetes.

 

Diabetes:

- Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by elevated blood sugar levels due to either insufficient insulin production or insulin resistance.

- Type 2 diabetes, the most common form, is often linked to obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and poor dietary habits.

- Management of diabetes involves medication, lifestyle modifications, and regular monitoring of blood sugar levels to prevent complications such as heart disease, kidney failure, and nerve damage.

 

Lowering the Risk of Diabetes

Weight Loss:

- Weight loss plays a significant role in lowering the risk of diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity and reducing excess fat in the body.

- Losing just 5-10% of body weight can significantly lower the risk of developing diabetes.

- Starting with small lifestyle changes, such as incorporating 30 minutes of physical activity daily and reducing empty calories, can kickstart weight loss efforts.

 

Dietary Changes:

- Eliminating sugary foods and beverages can help prevent spikes in blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of diabetes.

- Consuming a low glycemic index diet (examples are provided below), which includes high-fiber carbohydrates paired with lean proteins, can help stabilize blood sugar levels and promote weight loss.

 

Sample Diabetic-Friendly Meals and Snacks

Sample Day:

- Breakfast (300-400 calories): Greek yogurt with berries and a sprinkle of almonds.

- Mid-Morning Snack (150-200 calories): Carrot sticks with hummus.

- Lunch (400-500 calories): Quinoa or brown rice salad with mixed greens, grilled chicken breast, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and a balsamic vinaigrette.

- Afternoon Snack (150-200 calories): Apple slices with almond butter.

- Dinner (400-500 calories): Baked salmon with roasted vegetables (such as broccoli, bell peppers, and cauliflower) and quinoa or whole wheat pasta.

 

Eating Pattern:

- Eating smaller, balanced meals and snacks throughout the day can help prevent blood sugar spikes and promote weight loss.

- Pairing high-fiber carbohydrates with lean proteins and healthy fats helps balance calories and sugars, keeping blood sugar levels stable.

 

Working with a Dietitian

Customized Approach:

- Consulting with a dietitian who understands diabetes can provide personalized guidance and support in managing blood sugar levels and achieving weight loss goals.

- A dietitian can help create a meal plan tailored to individual needs, preferences, and lifestyle factors.

 

Reputable Resources:

- [Canadian Diabetes Association](https://www.diabetes.ca/)

- [Health Canada: Diabetes Information](https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/diabetes.html)

 

Recognizing Symptoms and Monitoring Blood Sugars

Symptoms of High Blood Sugar:

- Increased thirst and urination

- Fatigue

- Blurred vision

- Slow wound healing

- Unexplained weight loss

 

Monitoring Blood Sugars:

- Blood sugar levels are typically measured in millimoles per liter (mmol/L) in Canada.

- Fasting blood sugar levels between 6.1 and 6.9 mmol/L may indicate pre-diabetes, while levels above 7.0 mmol/L may indicate diabetes.

 

Conclusion

Lowering the risk of diabetes and managing blood sugar levels require proactive lifestyle changes, including weight loss, regular physical activity, and dietary modifications. By adopting a balanced eating pattern, making healthy food choices, and working with a dietitian, individuals can take control of their health and reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications. Recognizing symptoms and monitoring blood sugar levels regularly are essential for early detection and intervention. With the right support and resources, it's possible to prevent or manage diabetes effectively and improve overall well-being.  For more meal ideas and ways to work with your lifestyle, reach out, I’m more than happy to help.

 Feel free to reach out with more questions on diabetes or other nutrition related questions at 780-814-2983 or [email protected] 

Karie Cassell, Dietitian/Life Coach

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