Prediabetes: How Is It Different From Diabetes? And What Do I Do About It?
What are the Symptoms?
Those with prediabetes may experience symptoms similar to those with diabetes: extreme hunger or thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, and fatigue. Or prediabetes may exist without any discernible symptoms.
You likely noticed that the difference between diabetic and prediabetic glucose levels can be large or small, so talk to your doctor after your diagnosis about how concerned you should be and what actions are appropriate. Again, prediabetes does not guarantee type 2.
The American Diabetes Association says that risk for type 2 can be reduced by 58% by losing 7% of your body weight and exercising moderately (150 minutes a week). Weight loss, even moderate weight loss, is hard work, and the 150 minutes of exercise can be hard to find time for. But 58% is a huge drop in risk, and your health is worth it. And there are lots of unexpected benefits that come along with exercise and healthy living (check out the benefits of exercise here).
A 200-pound person would need to lose 14 pounds to shed 7% of their body weight, and steady, incremental weight loss is healthier and more sustainable than dropping a lot of weight quickly. If you have it to lose, aim to shed about a half pound or a pound each week until you reach your goal.
Adopting a healthy diet is also key to avoiding type 2 diabetes (especially if you are aiming to lose weight). Try to make half of each meal vegetables (yes, half!) and choose whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. The world is overrun with diet fads and trendy nutrition advice, but the truth is that the pillars of healthy eating haven’t changed. Check out these 5 Healthy Eating Tips for Diabetics, but really, eating healthy is wise for everyone.
Depending on the severity of prediabetes, a doctor may prescribe metformin as another preventative measure.
Finally, please note that while diet and exercise are huge factors, ethnicity, family history, age, and other health problems are factors in developing prediabetes, so don’t beat yourself up for a poor diet if you are diagnosed. The key is to make progress, not to feel guilty.
Stay healthy, friends!