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Small tips to help you prevent diabetes

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 96 million American adults (about 1 in 3 adults) have prediabetes but don’t know it.

woman exercising on a yoga matIf left untreated, prediabetes can lead to Type 2 diabetes or increase the chances of heart disease or stroke. Preventing Type 2 diabetes or can start with some simple lifestyle changes that anyone can make.

Try a new exercise routine

The CDC recommends regular physical activity for diabetes prevention. Try to get 150 minutes each week (30 minutes a day, five days per week) of moderate-intensity exercise. Often it is best to start slow to help you get used to a new exercise routine. One way you can do this is by breaking 30 minutes up into smaller pieces, like 10-minutes exercises three times a day.

Moderate-intensity exercise can include:

  • Mowing the lawn
  • Riding your bike
  • Gardening
  • Walking briskly
  • Swimming
  • Doing housework

Tracking your physical activity is an easy change you can make to help you move more. The average American walks 3,000-4,000 steps a day. Something as simple as tracking your steps can give you a look into your physical activity and help you build a goal to work towards. There are many ways you can track your steps easily – many phones have trackers built into them, or you can download an app or use a fitness watch.

Try a few different activities to find out what works best for you. Finding an exercise you enjoy doing can help you stick with your exercise goals.

Build healthy eating habits

Nutrition is another important part of diabetes prevention. Eating healthy meals that include ingredients from a variety of food groups can help you control your blood sugar. The American Diabetes Association recommends following the Diabetes Plate Method as a way to help you build well-balanced meals.

Here are some tips from the Diabetes Plate Method to help you get started:

  1. Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, such as lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cucumbers, peppers and green beans.
  2. Fill one quarter of your plate with lean protein, such as chicken, turkey, fish, eggs and egg whites, or plant-based proteins like lentils, beans and tofu.
  3. Fill one quarter of your plate with carbohydrate-rich foods, such as whole grains, fruit and starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn.
  4. Choose water or a low-calorie, unsweetened drink.

Start by making small changes rather than trying to completely change your diet overnight. Make one small change and, once it sticks, try changing another part of your diet. Small steps that stick are better than a goal that never makes it past the planning stage.

Get regular checkups

Since prediabetes doesn’t have any signs or symptoms, the best way to prevent diabetes is to stay on top of your health. Regular checkups with your doctor can help you keep an eye on your health and give your doctor a chance to catch any concerns before they become bigger issues.

To find out if you have prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes, you can get a hemoglobin A1C test (HbA1c), also called a blood sugar test. Talk with your doctor to find out if you should be tested. If you’ve been tested, talk to you doctor about what your diabetes numbers mean. To learn more about prediabetes and diabetes risk factors and prevention, visit the CDC’s website. For recipes and meal planning tips, check out the American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Food Hub.

Find a doctor you can trust

Blue Cross of Idaho members who don't have a PCP can search for one by logging in to their member account on our website or in the member app. After you log in, select Find Care to search for in-network providers by name, specialty, location and more.

You can download the Blue Cross of Idaho member app in the App Store or Google Play Store.


Written by: Charlotte Sarge, a registered dietitian at Blue Cross of Idaho. Charlotte has a Bachelor of Science degree in general dietetics with experience in clinical nutrition and nutrition counseling. She enjoys teaching others how to have a healthy relationship with food and how to make meals nutritious and enjoyable.

Posted: November 1, 2023