The habits that predispose you to developing type 2 diabetes are easy to change. If you start now and commit to integrating these changes into your day to day lifestyle, you will find that you will have more energy, more clear thinking and sleep better. The long term effect of this is of course diabetes prevention. Before I list the 5 easy steps, it is important to mention the obvious that your doctor will have already told you. First, lose weight if you are overweight. Second, exercise at least 30-minutes per day. Cardiovascular workouts with weight bearing exercise.
That having been said there are some basic misunderstandings out there that you need to know. Your doctor will tell you that diabetes is a progressive illness and there is not much to do until your blood sugar is out of control enough to put you on medications. This is false. If you make some of these easy changes now you will be able to stop diabetes progression in its tracks and reverse the diabetes that you have already. So here are your 5 easy steps to preventing diabetes.
Eliminate Sodas and Dilute Juices (including diet sodas)
The sugar in sodas and juices infuse a load of simple carbohydrates into your blood stream thus affecting your blood sugar level and forcing your pancreas to pump out a bunch of insulin to reduce the simple sugars in your bloodstream. This will eventually lead to insulin resistance where your cells that have been bombarded with insulin start to be less inclined to respond to the constant insulin floating around in your bloodstream. I won't go into the evils of aspartame and NutraSweet but suffice it to say that it will put some people into a diabetic state more quickly, reduce control of blood sugar and stimulate diabetic complications.
Control Stressful Situations in you Life
This is easier said than done but is imperative. Stress hormones exacerbate blood sugar control. You are first at risk for developing hypoglycemia or low blood sugar and after years of this you can develop high blood sugar due to insulin resistance aka type 2 diabetes. Even though you can't necessarily control the stressful event, you certainly can decide how you react to a stressful event.
Sleep until you Feel Rested
Lack of sleep predisposes you to developing diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. This is partially due to the stress hormones that are released to help your body get through the day without proper rejuvenating rest. If you are not waking refreshed in the morning go to sleep earlier or try to start your day later. You need an absolute minimum of 4 hours of sleep but some may need to sleep 6-8 hours until they wake refreshed and ready to start the day.
Eat High Protein Meals and Snacks
Keeping your blood sugar even throughout the day is imperative. Don't skip meals, ensure you have higher protein snacks at hand and make sure that your meals have lots of protein and fiber in them. The protein and fiber take longer to absorb and digest so you don't get a blood sugar spike. Make sure you eat before you get hungry. If you are going through a stressful period you will likely need to eat a little something every 2-3 hours throughout the day.
Give up Caffeine
Ok, I lied. I said 5 EASY steps to preventing diabetes and here I am telling you to give up coffee and tea. In our Starbuck's culture this can be nearly impossible. But this is easier than say dealing with diabetic neuropathy in the future or having a to get a foot lopped off due to diabetes. Green tea is my only concession here because the antioxidants in green tea are more protective to our eyes, brains and blood vessels than the caffeine is detrimental to our blood sugar. If you can't immediately give up your precious coffee or tea, then at least give up the milk and sugar in it.
A few closing notes. Try to keep your morning fasting blood sugar around 90 and you will likely have smooth sailing. Additionally your hemoglobin a1c should be approximately 5.5 and you will know that you have excellent control of your blood sugar. Good luck!