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Diabetes is a family affair: National Diabetes Month

Published: Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013 10:47 a.m. CDT

Diabetes is a challenging disease that affects the entire family in many ways. If you are living with diabetes or have a loved one with the disease, family support is very important when it comes to managing diabetes and preventing serious health problems.

It’s also important to know that if you have a family history of diabetes — such as a mother, father, brother, or sister — you are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. You can take steps to prevent type 2 diabetes.

Although you cannot change your family health history, knowing about it can give you the information you need to work with your health care team to take action on the things you can change. If you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, you can prevent or delay this disease by making important lifestyle changes. If you’re overweight, losing five to seven percent of your body weight (for example, 10 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds) can help to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. Here are some tips to help you do this:

Step 1: Move More

Plan to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days each week to help you lose weight. You can get this amount in small ways throughout the day. If you have not been active, talk to your doctor and start slowly to build up to your goal. Here are some ideas to fit more physical activity into your day:

• Park your car farther away from stores, movie theaters, or your office.

• Use TV breaks to stretch, take a quick walk around your home, do some sit-ups, or march in place.

• Walk during your lunch break.

• Deliver a message to a co-worker in person instead of by email. Take the stairs to your office instead of the elevator.

• Purchase a pedometer. Challenge yourself to get 10,000 steps per day.

Step 2:

Make Healthy Food Choices

Choose foods that are low in fat, sugar, and calories to help you lose weight. Limit portion sizes. Start today to:

• Eat a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits.

• Choose whole grain foods —whole wheat bread and crackers, oatmeal, brown rice and cereals.

• Lower fat intake — broil or bake poultry, meats and fish instead of frying.

• Lighten your recipes by using nonfat or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, cream cheese or mayonnaise. Use cooking spray instead of oil.

• Avoid getting too hungry by eating a healthy snack between meals.

• Do not keep chips, cookies, or candy in your home. Better choices for snacks might include raw vegetables, fruit, low-fat or nonfat yogurt or a handful of nuts, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.

• Choose water to drink. Use this chart as a guide for portion sizes:

- 1/2 cup rice or pasta = light bulb

- 1 cup cereal flakes or cooked vegetables = baseball

- 1 teaspoon butter or margarine = thumb tip

- 1 tablespoon salad dressing = matchbook

- 2 tablespoons peanut butter or hummus = golf ball

- 3 ounce meat/chicken/fish = deck of cards.

Step 3:

Start NOW to Prevent Diabetes

The key to losing weight and preventing diabetes is to make long-term changes that work for you — every day. Taking these steps is a great way to get started.

Want to know whether you are at risk for type 2 diabetes? Take the “Family Health History Quiz” at www.ndep.nih.gov/am-i-at-risk/family-history/#main.

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