By Lance Gard DC
In the United States there are more than 32 million people who have diabetes. Meaning their body struggles to break down the foods they eat into sugar and get that sugar into the proper place. Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is a group of diseases that result in too much sugar in the blood. DM has two main types, appropriately named type 1 and type 2, of the two, type 2 is more common and historically tends to appear later in life than type 1. With DM type 2 the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin to process all the sugar consumed, or insulin is itself resisted by the body. Either way too much sugar is in the body. Type 1 is when the cells which produce insulin are not functioning correctly.
Recently a third main type has started to appear and it’s being referred to as “prediabetes”. Which basically means you do not have diabetes, but you’re on the way to having it and you’d better clean-up your diet and make lifestyle changes that actually prevent type 2 from occurring. In many cases type 2 stems from poor diet and lifestyle choices. I’m not a big fan of naming conditions and assigning them to people, especially when it’s as void of meaning as ‘prediabetic”. I think the intention is to get people to make necessary lifestyle changes to prevent disease progression, but I usually see it have the opposite effect. Patients will begin to internalize and accept, what they view as, the inevitable DM type 2 diagnosis.
If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes it’s important to understand that you need to immediately make changes in your diet and lifestyle. Your body is showing signs that it is struggling to keep up with the amount of sugar you are taking in. Stop eating so much and this struggle can be reversed, and you’ll avoid medication and the need to treat actual diabetes.
Focus on small changes. Starting small and being consistent with the initial small change for a couple weeks. After a few successful weeks of small changes add in another small change. Repeat this process for 3,6 12 months and you’ll see long lasting results and avoid developing a pre-disease into an actual disease.
What’s a small change? Well, a small change when concerned with limited sugar intake would be to identify your biggest source of sugar. For many people it’s overeating carbohydrates (think bread), or sugary drinks and alcohol to name a few. A simple small change for someone eating too many carbs, for example, would be looking to eliminate bread; a main source for lots of us who overeat carbs. If I’m pre-diabetic, and looking to prevent actually developing a disease, and my over consumption of sugar comes from bread, I’m looking for how, and where, the bread is getting into my diet. If I’m eating two turkey sandwiches for lunch every day I’d consider changing to one turkey sandwich, but have double the meat so that I get enough calories and won’t feel hungry, but I eliminate half the sugar from my lunch. If you want to really dive into healthier eating, add a less sugary, but more filling, cup of broccoli instead of those two slices of bread. Do this for a couple weeks consistently and it’s a great first small change. I know people are thinking…”I like bread, I don’t like broccoli, so that won’t work for me”… to them all I can say is you have to find a source of vegetables and work to eliminate sugar or you’ll develop a disease. At some point we all need to eat with more wisdom. It’s frustrating to watch someone eat something that they know is going to harm their health. Think of your family, or your kids, or friends, someone out there wants you to live a long life, so please don’t purposefully deny them your long-term existence.
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