by Kelly Sinclair, MS, RD, CDE
Type 2 diabetes is a condition characterized by high blood glucose levels caused by either a lack of insulin or the body’s inability to use insulin efficiently. Type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older adults but can appear in young people.
Here are just a few of the recent statistics on diabetes:
- Nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes, about 9% of the population.
- Of the 30 million with diabetes, 8 million people do not yet know they have the disease.
- Another 86 million Americans have prediabetes a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but are not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes.
People with prediabetes are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
The American Diabetes Association has developed a 5 minute test you can take to check your own risk for Type 2 diabetes. Follow the link below:
There are things you can do to significantly lower your risk of developing diabetes:
- Lose 5-10% of your weight. For a 200 pound person that would be 10 to 20 pounds. Weight loss is the number one way to prevent type 2 diabetes.
- Move your body almost every day. Choose activities that you enjoy and get your heart rate up like brisk walking, jogging, dancing, and swimming. If you haven’t exercises in a while start with 5 or 10 minutes every other day. The goal is 30 minutes 5 days per week. Exercise burns up calories and will help you reach your weight loss goal.
- Eat 3 non starchy vegetables and 2 fruit servings each day. A serving is about ½ cup. Eating lower calorie vegetables and fruits can help you to lower your weight. Non starchy vegetables (everything except corn, peas, and potatoes) are so low in calories you can eat multiple servings! Add them to every meal to help you feel full.
- Meet with a certified diabetes educator to help you get started. We are here to help you reach your goals and answer your questions.
Children and adults need 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day to achieve a healthy weight and prevent a range of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer and stroke. If you or your child is trying to lose weight, getting this activity is essential. Breaking the activity up into 15 minute chunks throughout the day has the same benefits as doing it all at once but can be easier to achieve. Weave fun activities into your day to get exercise while creating a bond with your kids.
Ways to get physically active with your family:
- Try a new physical activity together as a family such as skiing, rock climbing, tennis, or canoeing.
- Go for a bike ride or walk after a family meal.
- Choose physical family activities such as bowling, miniature golf or laser tag over movies and TV.
- Go ice skating year round – check out your local indoor skating rink.
- Enjoy an amusement or water park.
- Rake leaves and jump into the leaf piles!
- Encourage children to join a sports team.
- Give children toys that encourage physical activity like balls, kites, hula hoops, Frisbee and jump ropes.
- Help kids plan neighborhood games of tag, hide and seek, or touch football.
- Limit screen time to two hours per day and keep the TV out of the bedroom.
- Plant a vegetable garden. Planting and maintaining a garden encourages physical activity and kids love to eat the veggies they grow!
Once you get your family moving, remember to drink plenty of zero calorie water before, during and after activities.
Organic or Conventional? People ask me all the time if organic fruits and vegetables are worth the extra money because they are healthier than conventional.
Fruits and veggies are an essential part of a healthy diet, so the most important thing is that you eat them every day, organic or not. If you are trying to lower your exposure to pesticides, buying organic can be worth it. The Environmental Working Group has identified fruits and vegetables that have the highest pesticide residues which can’t all be washed off under the tap, known as the “Dirty Dozen”. It is worth spending the extra money for these foods to reduce your exposure to pesticides especially if you eat these foods a lot. On the flip side there are fruits and vegetables with very low levels that you don’t need to buy organic, known as the “Clean 15”. Use these two lists to help you maximize the dollars you spend at the grocery store.
- Bell Peppers
- Nectarines (Imported Only)
- Blueberries (Domestic Only)
Two additional foods were added under a new “Plus” category. These foods fell outside the normal criteria for the Dirty Dozen, but had high traces of a highly toxic pesticide (organophosphate pesticides). It is worth adding these two to your list:
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet peas
- Cantaloupe (Domestic only)
- Sweet potatoes