By Megan Groh, RD, LD

November is National Diabetes Month, and with the holidays right around the corner, there is no better time to raise awareness! Continue reading for information about diabetes along with nutrition strategies for prevention.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is the result of high blood sugars in your body. Our pancreas produces a hormone called insulin, which helps move glucose out of your blood and into your cells for use as energy. If the pancreas cannot make enough of this hormone, the glucose remains in your blood, resulting in higher blood glucose (sugar) levels.

Lose weight and keep it off

Being overweight is one of the major contributors to developing type 2 diabetes. A moderate reduction in weight (10% decrease in weight) can help prevent diabetes, or help manage diabetes and reduce the risk for serious complications.

Fit in activity

Participating in regular physical activity not only improves quality of life, but has been shown to improve blood glucose control and can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. Physical activity helps move glucose out of the blood and into your cells for energy. Aim for at least 2.5 hours/week (30 minutes, 5 days/week) of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Switch it up by getting a combination of aerobic and resistance training!

Choose healthy foods most of the time

Choose whole grains and whole grain products over refined grains or highly processed carbohydrates. Whole grains contain more fiber than their refined counterparts. Fiber helps control blood sugars by delaying the release of sugar into the bloodstream. Replace sugar sweetened beverages which provide little to no nutrition with water, tea, or coffee. Choose healthy fats (mono- and polyunsaturated fats) vs. the not-so-good fats (saturated and trans fats). Finally, limit red meat and avoid processed meats.

Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable by taking these simple steps—losing weight, exercise, and choosing healthy foods while practicing portion control. Having a support network and a team of health professionals aiding you with your weight loss has been shown to not only help you lose weight, but keep it off in the long-term.