As more people develop diabetes each year, you may worry about the risks for you and your family. But, here’s the good news: You can do something about those risks.
Taking some simple steps now can help you avoid type 2 diabetes. In fact, making healthy lifestyle changes now can head off nearly three-quarters of all cases.
As a parent, spouse or caregiver, you can keep yourself and your family healthy by understanding your diabetes risk and making better choices for everyone.
Here are four ways to reduce your family’s risk of type 2 diabetes:
1. Know your family’s unique risks
The American Diabetes Association offers an online risk test to help you estimate your risk for type 2 diabetes.
It’s higher for those who:
- Are overweight
- Have a family history of diabetes
- Are age 45 or older
- Have high blood pressure
- Have high cholesterol
- Have had gestational diabetes
- Have had heart disease
2. Get moving
You don’t need to run miles a day to reduce your diabetes risk. Simply moving around — and including your family in the activity — will help you lose weight and lower your risk.
The goal is to work in some kind of physical activity for at least 150 minutes each week.
3. Fix your diet
Here are some simple tips for improving your nutrition:
- Reduce your intake of foods that are high in calories, sugar and fat.
- Replace sugary drinks and fruit juice with water.
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day.
- Eat plenty of whole grains.
- Keep your pantry stocked; having healthy food at home helps you avoid eating out too much.
- Include your family in planning and preparing meals. If you can, sit down to enjoy them together.
4. Lose a little weight
If you or your family have some weight to lose, you’re not alone. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends cutting the calories you consume by 500 to 1,000 a day to lose one to two pounds a week.
Work to lose between 5 percent and 7 percent of your current body weight.
Just doing that much can lower your blood glucose levels. It will also improve risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol.