Terri Mendoza, MS, RD, LDN, Department of Public Health
Terri is the Nutrition Education Specialist for the Massachusetts WIC Program.
Do you ever worry about developing diabetes? Do you know if you are at risk? Most importantly, did you realize that you can do something about it?
There’s an easy way to find out where you stand. In honor of November being National Diabetes Month, now’s the time to take a simple online questionnaire that will let you know your risk and how you can prevent type 2 diabetes. It took me just a minute or two to click my way through the Diabetes Risk Test, designed by the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
They asked about my age, gender, race/ethnicity, history of high blood pressure, family history of diabetes, height, weight, and activity level. The survey quickly told me my risk, and what I can do to lower it. While I can’t do much about some risk factors I can continue to pay attention to what I eat and be physically active most days of the week. And ADA’s website, www.diabetes.org, has a lot of tips on just how to do that.
While there are many treatments for people with diabetes, the best medicine is preventing it in the first place. People with a condition called prediabetes have higher than normal blood sugars, and are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It’s a good idea to know your risk, and to talk to your health care provider about whether or not you should be screened for diabetes.
What else can you do?
• If you are overweight, losing just 5 to 7% of your current body weight can help. That means that if you weigh 200 pounds, losing just 10 to 14 pounds can help prevent diabetes. Eating fruits and vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains will help you lose those pounds safely.
• Being physically active for 150 minutes a week, or 30 minutes a day 5 days of the week, can also help you lose weight and keep you healthy.
• It’s important to keep tabs on your blood sugar levels. If you have prediabetes, ask your doctor to check your blood sugar every year to make sure it’s not going up.
For more information on preventing and controlling diabetes, check out www.mass.gov/dph/diabetes.