Diabetes is an irreversible condition and while research projects all over the globe are working to find a cure, studies show that the best way to prevent or delay diabetes is through diet and exercise. For many Americans, prediabetes comes before type 2 diabetes. The symptoms of diabetes develop gradually and may be unnoticed for years before it warrants a visit to the doctor. For this reason, we recommend screening for prediabetes and diabetes for adults 45 years or older, regardless of risk factors.
Prediabetes is a serious health condition characterized by abnormal blood sugar levels between 100 and 125. According to the CDC, more than a third of American adults are diagnosed with prediabetes. Despite its prevalence in the U.S., many Americans don’t know they have prediabetes. Approximately 84 percent of those with prediabetes are unaware of their condition, which makes it difficult to treat.
So why is it so difficult to catch? There are no easily detectable symptoms for prediabetes. The only way to determine if you have it is through your yearly physical and lab work. Certain risk factors may increase your risk of prediabetes including weight gain, insulin resistance, a family history of Type 2 diabetes, a sedentary lifestyle, among others. Because prediabetes is often only caught with lab testing, annual physicals are important for early detection. Ask your doctor for a blood sugar test if you think you are at risk.
If you have prediabetes, you can reverse your condition and keep your blood sugar within normal range by making some lifestyle changes which includes physical activity. Aiming for at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week is recommended. This can mean intense activity like running or something simpler like a bike ride or walking through the mall. If you have trouble making time for physical activity in your schedule, consider breaking up those 150 minutes into more manageable portions of time. Try exercising for 30 minutes, five times a week instead of once or twice for longer.
Managing prediabetes also includes healthy, well balanced meals with proper portions. Reducing unnecessary snacking, eliminating sweet drinks and not skipping meals will also help. Extreme dieting is not needed nor recommended. TPMG registered dietitians can meet with you and help with meal plans that align with your preferences and lifestyle. In addition, TPMG offers prediabetes classes that are fully recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The weight reduction and diabetes prevention program is a year-long program that focuses on improving food choices, increasing activity, and controlling portions.
“The good news is that you’re trying to prevent something as opposed to waiting until you have to treat it,” said Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Care and education specialist, Gale Pearson of TPMG Nutrition Services. Although a prediabetes diagnosis may be unsettling, take this opportunity to be pro-active in preventing diabetes. We’re glad to help.
About Gale Pearson, MS, RDN, CDCES
Gale Pearson, MS, RDN, CDCES is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with over 25 years of experience working with patients on dietary and nutrition wellness planning. Gale received her undergraduate degree from Hampton University and her Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from Howard University.
With extensive experience in nutrition counseling, Gale works with her patients to develop strategies to improve their eating habits and lifestyles, in turn helping them to manage their weight and medical conditions. She credits witnessing her patients’ symptoms and overall health improvement as a result of the lifestyle changes as one of the most gratifying and rewarding aspects of her career.
At TPMG Nutrition Services in Newport News and Williamsburg, Gale provides one-on-one consultations, nutrition and weight management counseling, and diabetes education.