Are you confused by the glycemic index, carb counting or carb exchanges? Studies have shown that losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can help you lower your risk of chronic disease such as diabetes. But too many people try to lose this weight too quickly, using fad weight loss programs and other unhealthy approaches. Not only is this type of weight loss potentially dangerous, it doesn’t help you learn how to develop healthy eating habits for life. So, how are you are supposed to know what to eat to lower your risk of diabetes? A recent study in Diabetes Care shows that regardless of actual weight loss, just learning to make healthy eating and exercise a part of your daily life is enough to lower your risk.
And the study says…
Researchers from Saint Louis University studied three groups of people to see how exercise and healthy eating affects the way their bodies use insulin. One group consumed fewer calories, one group exercised, and the third group did both. All three groups showed more stable blood glucose levels. And, while some participants did lose weight, the weight loss from exercise was no more effective in controlling blood glucose levels than weight loss from eating fewer calories. So what the study seems to show is that lowering caloric intake while staying active packs an extra powerful punch in preventing diabetes.
How can I start eating healthy and being active?
It can be difficult to know how to begin living a healthy lifestyle. Here are some simple tips to help you on your way to lowering your risk of diabetes and other chronic diseases.
- Eat more veggies. Many people do not eat enough veggies on a daily basis. Eat at least 2 to 2.5 cups of veggies a day for optimal health. It may seem like a lot, but just adding 1 cup of veggies to each lunch and dinner can help you meet your daily dose. Whether steamed, in a soup, in a salad or raw, enjoy veggies as part of your meals and snacks to freshen up your eating habits.
- Eat out less. It is more difficult to eat healthy when you eat out. There are fewer healthy options, and it’s too easy to be tempted by unhealthy foods and over-sized servings. Try to limit eating out to one meal a week – you’ll be able to control your food and calorie intake the rest of the time, and those meals out will become a real reward for your hard work the rest of the week.
- Cook more at home. Work and family can make it hard to find time to prepare healthy meals and snacks at home. But if you can find just one hour to do meal planning, cook your veggies ahead (storing them in the fridge or freezer until meal time) and use simple cooking methods for meats, such as broiling or cooking in a pan with a bit of plant-based oil or non-fat cooking spray, you can eat healthy and easily at home. It will taste pretty good, too.
- Go Green. Green veggies, such as romaine lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli, peppers, Brussels sprouts, green beans, okra and collard greens, are just some of the fiber-rich veggies that add color your plate and lots of flavor and nutrition to your meals and snacks.
- Move more. You do not have to go to a gym to be healthy. Just try to walk a bit more every day. Take the stairs up and down, take short walks throughout the day, or work in your garden or inside your home. These are all great ways to get your heart pumping and lower your risk of diabetes.
- Plan ahead. Knowing what you are going to eat and drink, making a grocery list before going shopping, and including periods of physical activity in your daily planning will help you stick to your healthy eating regimen and avoid old familiar unhealthy habits. Taking just a few minutes each day to put healthy eating and exercise on your to-do list can add years to your life by lowering your risk of getting diabetes.