1. Know your numbers

If you have a family history of diabetes, ask your healthcare provider to check your A1c. The A1c test reveals your average blood sugar levels for the past 3 months. A reading between 5.7% and 6.4% is considered prediabetes and means that you should take immediate action. 

Women with a waist larger than 35 inches and men with more than 40 inches around their middle have a greater risk of diabetes and heart disease. Losing a few inches can make a big difference in blood sugar, blood pressure and blood fats.

What is your weight? Losing 5% of your current weight can help prevent type 2 diabetes.

2. Move your body

Sitting for long periods is as damaging to your health as smoking. Break up sitting time for at least 10 minutes each hour. Dance, walk, stretch, take the stairs, or stand up while watching TV or working at the computer.

Start slowly and work up to 30 minutes of activity most days of the week. Physical activity is a great way to reduce stress.

3. Beware of portion distortion

Sometimes it’s not what you’re eating, but the size of the serving. Use a smaller plate at home and limit second helpings. In a restaurant, eat half the meal and take home the rest for another meal.

4. Choose nutrition packed meals and snacks

Fill half your plate with vegetables, one-quarter with a whole-grain, high-fiber starch or starchy vegetable, and one-quarter with a lean meat or a serving of beans. Round out the meal with a serving of fruit for dessert. Reach for a rainbow of colors. Fresh, frozen and canned vegetables are all nutritious choices.

Greek yogurt, nuts, fruit and raw veggies are good for snacking on the go. Drink more water.

5. Snooze so you can't lose

Lack of sleep or poor quality sleep increases your risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The blue light from our phones, TV’s and computers disrupts the release of our brain’s natural sleep chemicals. Turn off all your screens an hour before bedtime and aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.

If you snore or wake frequently during the night, get tested for sleep apnea.

6. Mindful eating secrets

It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you have eaten. The faster you eat, the more likely you will overeat. Slow down, chew your food longer, enjoy each bite, and wait 30 minutes to go back for any more food.

Try to identify times when you may be eating because you are sad, depressed, angry or bored. Substitute food with an activity you really enjoy. 

7. Seek expert advice

Work with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who can help you create an eating plan tailored to your preferences, lifestyle and budget.

Tag line: Provided by the Diabetes Care and Education Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.