Every day thousands of people learn that they have pre-diabetes. That knowledge can make people react in different ways. One person’s initial reaction may be panic or worry about what to do next. Another person may be nonchalant and feel “it’s not really that bad!” Whatever the case may be, the person with a pre-diabetes diagnosis is faced with a medical condition that has the potential to be serious. What may be lost in hearing such news, is that having this condition actually presents an opportunity to set things right again.
What exactly is pre-diabetes? It is defined as a state that is between having normal blood sugar and type 2 diabetes. An elevated fasting blood glucose or hemoglobin A1c are reliable indicators for diagnoses. Individuals who are overweight, obese, or have a strong family history of diabetes would be well advised to get screened for diabetes. Those who already have this condition are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Recent data from the National Diabetes Fact Sheet suggests that there are now an estimated 57 million Americans with pre-diabetes. Left untreated, pre-diabetes can progress to full blown diabetes. Once a person has diabetes, there is significant potential for complications and negative alterations in well-being. Diabetes is not a reversible condition.
Instead of panic, or worse yet, ignoring the situation entirely, quick action is what really counts. The decision to take action early in one’s diagnosis of pre-diabetes is where the opportunity lies to do something really worthwhile: that is, if you begin to make positive lifestyle changes right away, you may be able to reverse the pre-diabetes and prevent diabetes altogether! The more you understand about the condition and what works to reverse it, the easier it will be to work on targeted lifestyle changes.
Making lifestyle changes involves a systematic approach to diet, exercise, stress management and healthy sleep habits. Work with someone who is trained to help you plan that systematic approach. Be selective about who you work with and where you get your pre-diabetes information. While there are literally thousands of sources (online and offline) out there ready to give you advice, look for information that comes from established, reputable organizations or credentialed professionals. The American Diabetes Association and The American Association of Diabetes Educators are good places to start your search. Whenever possible, choose to work with a Certified Diabetes Educator.
Successfully treating pre-diabetes includes a well thought out wellness and lifestyle plan, with tangible goals that you work on, one goal at a time. So what’s the most important thing to do first? Decide to tackle the problem quickly. Pre-diabetes is often reversible, so use this opportunity to rid yourself of this condition.
© 2012, Gretchen Scalpi, RD, CDE. Publication rights granted to all venues so long as article and by-line are reprinted intact and all links are made live.