Americans at risk for type 2 diabetes (please see Appendix D—Are You At Risk For Diabetes?) can take important steps to prevent or delay the disease by losing a small amount of weight by eating a reduced fat, low-calorie diet and increasing their physical activity. The goal is to eat fewer calories and increase physical activity to lose a small amount of weight.49 The following action steps help people lower their risk for type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases. Other helpful tips can be found at http://www.smallstep.gov/ and http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/dga/dguide95.html.
- Eat a variety of foods within the basic food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, milk, and meat and beans).
- Choose a diet low in fats (not recommended for children 2 years old and under), saturated fats, and cholesterol; and use sugar and alcohol in moderation.50
- Order healthier food choices or split a meal with a friend or ask the server to put half of it in a take home box when dining out.
- Use a salad plate for meals, rather than a full-size dinner plate, to make the meal appear larger.
- Learn to use the food label to determine the size or amount of a portion or serving of foods and beverages. Consume appropriate portions of foods and beverages.
- Drink a big glass of water or low-calorie beverage before a meal to help curb your hunger.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Bake or broil foods rather than fry.
- Drink 2 percent or 1 percent milk rather than whole milk.
- Request a low-fat dressing for your salad.
- Keep a daily record of eating habits, noting type of food, amount, and time of day. Determine times where overeating occurs and develop a plan to help avoid these situations in the future.
- Find ways other than eating to deal with stress. Take a walk, stretch or take slow deep breaths.
- Be “snackwise.” Have a piece of fruit or some reduced-fat popcorn instead of reaching for a piece of cake.
- Make small nutritional changes. Some people find they are able to lose weight by simply eliminating sugary drinks.
- Try some new recipes for healthier foods, such as those suggested by the American Diabetes Association (http://www.diabetes.org) or the American Heart Association (http://www.americanheart.org).
- Make regular physical activity an essential part of daily activities.
- Exercise while watching TV by running or marching in place to avoid being a “couch potato.” Put away the remote and get up to change the channel on the TV.
- Find an enjoyable exercise or physical activity and get active. For example, for those who enjoy dancing, put on some music and dance each day.
- Take the stairs instead of elevators and escalators.
- Park farther away from stores, or ride a bicycle or walk to stores.
- Walk inside a mall as an inexpensive way to exercise in a sheltered space.
- Volunteer to walk dogs at the local animal shelter or for an elderly neighbor.
- Ask friends or use the Internet to find out about local parks or other facilities where you can exercise.
- Set personal goals for exercise and track progress. For example, if a goal is to walk at least 30 minutes five times a week, keep a record of how many times the goal was met. If a day is missed, record it and indicate why it was missed. At the end of the week, consider what changes to make so that the goals for the following week will be met. Some people find it helpful to begin with smaller, easier-to-reach goals.
49 U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1995). 4th ed. Nutrition for your health: dietary guidelines for Americans. Available at: http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/dga/dguide95.html.