How I Navigate the Holidays As a PrediabeticNov. 21, 2019
By Brittany Little
I was 18 when I was first diagnosed with prediabetes. At the time, I didn’t fully understand the implications of being prediabetic. I thought I was young and had more than enough time to worry about my A1C (blood sugar level). Now, at age 24, I’m realizing just how serious prediabetes is.
Not only does prediabetes put you at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke, but the CDC is reporting more cases of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes in young adults than ever before.
This year, at my annual check-up, I found out my A1C had risen drastically. My doctor told me that if I didn’t make immediate changes to my lifestyle, it was likely I would be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes by the age of 25.
I quickly started to figure out how to make lasting changes to my lifestyle by joining a diabetes prevention program. I want to share some of the tips that have been helpful for me in my personal health journey.
Know your limits
My focus is on limiting carbs and sugars. You don’t have stop eating the food you love, but you do have to be mindful of what you are eating and how much of it. During the holidays, I love my sister’s cornbread dressing, so any diet change that didn’t allow me to eat dressing during the holidays would have to be ignored on Thanksgiving.
I now know that I can still enjoy foods high in carbs. I just needed to learn to combine those carbs with foods high in fiber, like roasted carrots, as they give my body more time to digest the sugar found in foods like cornbread dressing.
I also learned it's important to be mindful of what I am drinking as well as how often I eat.
As a rule, try to choose drinks with less sugar, like diet sodas or water. Watch out for fruit juices, as they are usually high in sugar.
You should also make sure you eat regularly throughout the day. If you are feeling hungry between meals, grab a healthy snack. I'm looking forward to my snack of fruit and nuts while I wait for the turkey to come out of the oven.
Get in the spirit
Physical activity is just as crucial as changing your eating habits. This doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym every day, but it does mean that you should push yourself to do something that will boost your heart rate.
With school, work and family, my schedule is jam-packed. I really only get to the gym once a week for about a 45-minute workout.
But in the meantime, I take the stairs instead of the elevator, park toward the back of the lot when I do my food shopping, and even walk in place while I watch my favorite holiday movies.
The goal is to get your heart rate up at least a few days a week.
Make a toast to your new, healthy lifestyle
Over the years, my A1C went up and down before I made a commitment to eating healthy and working out.
Before, I would do it just to lose a bit of weight, but then I would go right back to my bad habits. I didn’t see a drastic change in my A1C until I finally put forth the effort to making lasting changes.
The most important thing to remember is that your A1C will not drop overnight. It takes time, patience and effort. Don’t wait until after the holidays to make a change. Start now, and by the time your Christmas tree is out on the curb, you’ll be making a toast to your health.