Prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes with healthy habits

By Lisa Franzen-Castle
Extension Nutrition Specialist, PhD, RD
UNL Panhandle Research & Extension Center

Every 20 seconds, someone is diagnosed with diabetes. That is more than 4,300 friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members a day.

At the Center logoNovember is American Diabetes Month® and there are many ways to help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes, such as eating healthy, being physically active, quitting smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight. Check out the following tips to be healthier this November and form healthy habits for life:

  • Eat Healthier: Eating healthy is a great way to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Start building a healthier plate by eating more vegetables and fruits, leaner meats, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. Check out MyPyramid.gov to help focus on the foods you need to eat more of. MyPyramid offers personalized eating plans and interactive tools to help you plan and assess your food choices.
  • Shop Smarter: Shopping smarter is one way to eat healthier. Stock up on healthy basics such as brown rice and whole grain pasta. Stick to your grocery list and avoid aisles with high calorie foods including cookies, chips, and sodas. Never shop when you are hungry; this will increase the temptation to buy unhealthy foods.
  • Be Active: Physical activity can help lower your risk for pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. It is never too late to be physically active. Find others who are trying to be active, join a group for exercise or support or find a walking buddy, and work together to reach your goals. Aim for 30 minutes on most days.
  • Quit Smoking: It is no secret smoking is bad for you; it hurts your lungs and heart, lowers the oxygen your organs get, and raises bad cholesterol and blood pressure. If you do not smoke make a plan to never start, and if you do smoke challenge yourself to quit. Within a few years of quitting, your risk of stroke and coronary artery disease are similar to non-smokers. Visit smokefree.gov for a step by step quit guide, tools to help you quit, and other information and resources related to quitting.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Being overweight raises your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. You do not have to lose a lot of weight. Even 10–15 pounds can make a difference. People who have lost weight and kept it off are physically active most days of the week, eat breakfast, and journal about their food and activity habits.

Nine percent of Nebraskans have been diagnosed with diabetes (type I, type II and pre-diabetes) and increasing medical costs are a concern for all of us. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 11 million people in the US have elevated blood sugar levels and are undiagnosed with diabetes.

This November make your health a priority and take steps to making healthy habits for life. For diabetes information and resources check out UNL Extension Control Diabetes for Life at food.unl.edu/controldiabetesforlife. Recordings and printed materials from previous sessions on various topics related to diabetes are available on the site.