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Six Steps to Avoid Diabetes

In Monday’s post, I provided an overview of the prevalent diabetes disease.  My aim there was to offer a synopsis, a one-pager that outlines the disease which has unfortunately become a household term these days.  But of what value am I if I describe a problem without proposing a solution, or at least a way to avoid the problem altogether (which happens to be an order of magnitude easier than curing the disease)?

Telling someone how to avoid diabetes is as simple as telling someone how to avoid getting hit by a car while crossing the street – just use common sense.  Diabetes, as we know it today (Type II Diabetes), is a relatively new disease.  Well, at least the prevalence of it is new.  Forty years ago it was virtually unknown.  Today, one in ten Americans has the disease.  And, a new Center for Disease Control report says that, by the year 2050, one out of every three Americans will be diabetic if we continue on our current path to destruction.

Sure, people are living longer and people are being diagnosed earlier, which both lead to higher statistical rates.  But the most significant change we’ve seen in the past forty years is our diets.  We Americans, as well as many other parts of the world, have grown accustomed to the Western Diet, a diet rich in processed foods, refined grains, corn, and gigantic portions.   So, if a change in our eating habits was the cause, then a change in our eating habits is also the solution.

  1. Portion Control – As a rule of thumb, the average adult should eat about 2,000 calories per day, give or take a couple hundred.  If you have no idea, check out a site like Nutrition Data for calorie info.  Eat only when you are hungry and stop eating when you are not hungry.  It’s simple.  How do you do this?  Plan your meals, eat slowly, think about your food, enjoy your food, and stop before you’re full.
  2. Eat Whole Grains Instead of Processed Refined Carbs – Think whole grain bread instead of the classic white bread, brown rice instead of white, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, barley.  To keep it simple, go for the brown and avoid the white.
  3. Avoid Soda and Other Sugary Beverages -There are 40 grams of sugar in a 12-ounce can of Coca Cola.  That’s 10 teaspoons of sugar!  Think you’re avoiding this by drinking Gatorade and other fruity or iced tea beverages?  Think again.  Look at the nutrition facts – those drinks are nothing more than non-carbonated soda.  Drink more water.
  4. Focus on Fiber and Whole Foods – Fiber and whole foods will fill you up and keep you full longer.  You’ll have fewer cravings for sweets and other junk foods.  Winter vegetables and hearty greens such as kale and collard greens are loaded with fiber, so eat up!
  5. Shop the Perimeter of Your Supermarket – You’ve probably heard this advice before, but it’s worth repeating.  The perimeter is where all the good-for-you foods are – bread, eggs, meats, and produce.  Avoid the middle of the market, which is where thousands of modified corn products reside.
  6. Make Exercise a Part of Your Life – As always, exercise will only help you become a healthier person.  But beware – it’s not a panacea.  You can exercise all day, but if you still overload your body with sugar and refined carbs, you’re still susceptible to diabetes and other problems.  A good friend of mine trains 3-4 days a week and has run a few marathons, but last year he was diagnosed with pre-diabetes because he eats like garbage.  Strive for balance in all areas.

So there you go – six solid tips for avoiding diabetes.  See?  I told you it’s common sense.  If you ask me, you really have to work hard to get diabetes.  You really have to throw caution to the wind and have a wanton disregard for your body and your health.  Don’t make it hard on yourself.  Make it easy on yourself and develop healthy habits now.

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