When my mom was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes mellitus, I knew immediately that our family’s lives had changed forever. Before such a diagnosis, most individuals develop “prediabetes,” a condition involving factors such as age, gender, family history, personal health status, lifestyle or a combination of these elements.
My mom had likely lived with prediabetes for years without any of us realizing that her changing medical situations, family background and personal lifestyle choices were exacerbating her health. As her children, we siblings instantly became “high risk” for developing prediabetes, too. When my mom started dialysis treatments, we learned a valuable lesson about commitment and self-care.
“Prediabetes means a person’s blood glucose (sugar) level is higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. People with prediabetes are on the road to develop type 2 diabetes and are also at increased risk for serious health problems such as stroke and heart disease,” (www.diabetes.org).
Amazingly, one in three American adults are prediabetic, although nearly 90 percent do not realize it. Minimal symptoms occur, yet a simple blood test is optimal for confirming prediabetes. However, our individual anatomical and physiological make-ups are distinctively complex. So, what self-care strategies can we utilize to either postpone or hopefully avoid developing this serious, progressively debilitating disease of diabetes?
Age, gender and family history are genetic influences that we cannot change. Conversely, choosing to increase physical activity level, lose weight as needed and embracing healthier nutritional habits can all increase our chances of defeating this disturbing challenge to our health. Nutritional awareness — stepping up-to-the-plate — is just one “ingredient” of confronting prediabetes head-on, but my siblings and I agree it is an essential part.
No doubt you have heard this before: “You are what you eat!” This statement, which originated in the 1860s, simply implies that what we eat and drink are of utmost significance to our overall health and wellbeing. Since little evidence clearly points to supplementation as a means of satisfactorily fulfilling nutrient requirements, one of our greatest allies in staying healthier as we age is committing to a daily balanced, nutritional combination of food and drink. Of course, some people have specific dietary needs, which must be honored when establishing an overall grouping of options. Being organized and staying hopeful along your journey creates a win-win situation. Choose a proactive path with meals that include the freshest ingredients possible, allowing yourself to enjoy each day more, fueled with energy and peace of mind.
Among the websites you can visit to find more information that have terrific recipes include the American Diabetes Association (www.diabetes.org) and Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.org). Locally, our Sheridan Senior Center offers nutritious, inexpensive lunches all week long, both at the center and through the “Meals-on-Wheels” program. Breakfasts are available too, and all menus are created with the assistance of a registered dietitian. What a perfect way to support the pursuit for better nutritional habits. Check out the website at www.sheridanseniorcenter.org, call 672-2240 or drop by 211 Smith St. to find out more details about meal options.
Tackling prediabetes with a healthy nutritional plan may be easier than you think — try it! You’ll love the way you feel and enjoy empowering yourself to choose a healthier lifestyle. Trust me. Just do it!
Guest columnist Teresa (Teddy) E. Araas, PhD, CHES, E-RYT500, CYT700, RPYT, owns local businesses Balanced Living Health & Wellbeing Consultants, LLC and Santosha Yoga. She also teaches doctoral courses in health promotion and wellness and holds an adjunct research fellowship at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, Provo, Utah. Email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Center Stage is written by friends of the Senior Center for the Sheridan Community. It is a collection of insights and stories related to living well at every age.