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I was diagnosed with prediabetes, what now?

Julie Harris, RDN |

You could have been going in for a routine checkup when your doctor said, “You have prediabetes”. 

Hearing this can be scary. Yet, with lifestyle changes, it doesn’t have to mean type 2 diabetes is in your future. WellDoc’s Registered Dietitian explains how prediabetes can be managed.

What is prediabetes?

First, it’s important to understand what prediabetes is because it’s the leading predictor for type 2 diabetes.

Prediabetes is when blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.

You may have been living with prediabetes for years without even knowing it, since some people have symptoms and some do not. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that just 10% are aware that they have it. 

There’s certain risk factors that you can’t change, like age, race/ethnicity, and family history. Even if your family history puts you at a higher risk for diabetes, there are other things you can do to lower that risk. This quiz (https://www.diabetes.org/risk-test) from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) can help you understand your personal risks.

Can I reverse prediabetes?

Reversing prediabetes is when blood glucose levels are consistently in the normal range.

Research shows that you can reverse prediabetes by making lifestyle changes. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine randomly assigned 3,234 people with high blood sugar levels to 3 groups: placebo, metformin, or a lifestyle-change program. The group in the lifestyle-change program reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 58%. The study showed that making lifestyle changes (like exercise) were more effective than taking metformin (a medication for diabetes).

4 Tips for Managing Prediabetes

Build More Muscle

In one study, 35% of adults with prediabetes who did strength training twice a week had normal blood sugar levels after three months. Strength training allows your muscles to absorb more glucose, helping your body be more efficient. 

The American Diabetes Association recommends at least two sessions of strength training a week. You don’t have to lift heavy weights to see benefits. Strength training is any exercise you do by moving a part of your body against resistance. Start with body-weight exercises like lunges, squats and push-ups.  

Keep a regular bedtime routine

Poor sleeping habits are linked to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Researchers found people who didn’t get enough sleep and had poor sleep quality were more likely to develop diabetes. Poor sleep changes how the body produces and uses insulin (a hormone that helps absorb blood sugar). 

Sleep also influences levels of hormones that help you feel hungry and full. When we don’t get enough sleep, your body doesn’t produce enough of the hormone, leptin. Leptin helps tell the brain that you’ve had enough to eat. Additionally, poor sleep increases another hormone called ghrelin, which increases the desire to eat. So now your body has too much of the hunger hormone and not enough of the fullness hormone.

*Current BlueStar users: Sync your activity tracker to the app to automatically get data on how you’re sleeping.

Make Small Changes to Your Meals

Strict diets may help you in the short-term but are hard to maintain over time. And some research shows to more you diet, the higher your weight. Instead, Welldoc’s dietitians encourage our users to make small changes over time. 

Set a small goal of a healthy change you’d like to make. A small goal could be:

  • eating whole wheat bread instead of white bread
  • adding a new vegetable to your lunch
  • using a small plate instead of a large plate

Make note of your progress and once it becomes a habit, make a new small goal. Small changes add up and can help you make healthier eating a way of life.

Be Kind to Your Body

Being a larger body and having prediabetes isn’t easy. Yet, showing yourself some love can improve your mental health and potentially even lower your blood sugar levels. In a small study, 32 people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes who took an eight-week course in self-compassion had fewer symptoms of depression, diabetes distress, and lowered their A1C by 1% after three months.  

It can be easy to criticize yourself when you eat too much pizza or don’t exercise. Rather than beating yourself up, imagine what you would say to a friend. Treat yourself with the same kindness.

It’s a Journey

A lot of people stop making healthy progress because they focus on weight loss and ignore the long-term process. But it’s focusing on the process that helps you reach your goals. Focus on making long-term habits, not on specific numbers.

Tips for managing prediabetes

The information we provide at welldoc.com and welldoc.com/blog is not medical advice, nor is it intended to replace a consultation with a medical professional. Please inform your physician of any changes you make to your diet or lifestyle and discuss these changes with them. If you have questions or concerns about any medical conditions you may have, please contact your physician.