By Natalie Stein, BS Food Science, BS Nutritional Sciences, MS Human Nutrition, MPH Public Health
December 23rd, 2017
Diabetes may have seemed like something that your parents or grandparents had to worry about, until now. It can be a shock to learn that you have pre-diabetes or another risk factor for diabetes, but you can use it as a wake-up call. A healthier lifestyle can help you can lower your risk of diabetes by over half. That is where you do have the advantage over your parents - healthier foods, an encouraging culture, and even helpful technology are available today!
Who’s at Risk?
Well...you may be! Diabetes is not just a condition for other people. It is something that can affect you, too. That National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that over 9% of Americans, or 30 million Americans, have it. Another 84 million Americans - or about 1 in 3 - have pre-diabetes and are likely to develop diabetes within 10 years without lifestyle changes: think healthier diet, more physical activity, and weight loss.
Beat Your Parents
You may have their risk factors, but you have way more tools at your disposal than your parents might have. You have the upper hand on your parents’ generation, from knowledge to choices to a supportive culture. We now know:
The value of healthy eating, from the benefits of whole grains and healthy fats, to the harms of added sugars and trans fats.
How physical activity can lower insulin resistance and blood sugar levels.
The role of getting enough sleep in managing blood sugar.
That losing just a few extra pounds can significantly lower diabetes risk.
A Culture of Health
Healthy opportunities are all around, and healthy behaviors are increasingly the norm. Are you doubtful that health is “in?” A look around the supermarket may convince you otherwise. Foods that were specialty items or even unavailable a few years ago are now mainstream - think about:
Whole-grain wraps and whole-grain versions of almost all grains.
Fresh vegetables of all kinds available year-round.
All-natural peanut butter without added sugars or trans fats.
Nitrate-free, low-sodium sandwich meat.
As for exercise, there have never been more gyms, fitness opportunities, or casual walkers to keep company.
The Final Piece of the Puzzle
You may have a reason to want to develop healthier habits; you may know what you need to do to lose weight and get healthier; and you may have the nutritious foods and walking paths available to you. Now what? There may be another piece of the puzzle: a health coach.
Your parents may not have had a personal health coach, but you can. Your Lark coach is available 24/7 to give encouragement, ideas, and reminders to put you on the right track and keep you there. She may be the tool you need to get your diabetes risk down.