Your nutrition and lifestyle choices are a major factor in your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. When you’re aware of what behaviors can increase your risk, you can start to make small, simple changes to lower your chances of being diagnosed with this debilitating disease. And even if you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you can still decrease your risk of developing complications associated with this disease by avoiding these three main lifestyle and dietary bad habits.
1. You Ignore the Scale
Being overweight or obese can dramatically increase your odds of developing type 2 diabetes. Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is an indication of whether your weight for your height falls within a healthy range. To calculate your BMI, you divide your weight in pounds (lbs) by height in inches (in) squared and then multiply by a conversion factor of 703. Or you can just click on this BMI calculator to do the math for you.
If your BMI falls into the overweight or obese category, you have an elevated risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But don’t fret—losing just 10-15 pounds can significantly lower your risk. How can you shed the weight? Review your current diet and identify 100 calories a day you can shave from your typical intake. By cutting out this small amount of calories, you can lose 10 pounds in a year which will lower your overall diabetes risk. That’s as simple as switching from cream to milk in your cup of coffee or by taking in just two less teaspoons of oil per day!
Even if your BMI indicates you’re at a healthy body weight, you still may be at an increased risk for diabetes if you have a wide waistline (30 inches or wider for women or 35 inches or wider for men). A wide waistline indicates an excess amount of visceral fat, otherwise known as belly fat, which can increase insulin resistance in your body—not to mention increase your risk for heart disease and certain cancers as well.
To slim your waistline, avoid simple sugars and refined carbohydrates and choose whole grains instead. In addition, include healthy monounsaturated fats (such as those found in avocados and olive oil) and omega-3 fatty acids (such as those found in fish and chia seeds) into your diet on a regular basis as these fats have been found to shrink inches from your waistline.
2. You Dismiss the Signs of Stress
Research has shown that chronic stress can elevate the risk of diabetes. If you’re constantly tired and anxious, incorporate deep breathing into your regular daily routine or any time you’re faced with a stressful situation. Deep breathing has been shown to be one of the best ways to lower stress in your body—and the best part is that you can do this anywhere! When you breathe deeply it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. To do this, follow these easy steps:
Sit in a comfortable position and place one hand on your stomach just below your ribs and the other on your chest.
Breathe in deeply through your nose so that the air pushes out your belly, but the hand on your chest remains stationary.
Now, breathe out slowly through pursed lips as if you were whistling. The hand on your stomach should go in. Push all of the air out of your lungs.
Then repeat these slow, deep breaths 5 to 10 times.
Deep breathing can slow your heart rate, reduce tension, and reduce elevated stress hormones helping to protect you against chronic stress and diabetes.
3. You Sit Still
Inactivity not only increases your risk of becoming overweight or developing heart disease, but it’s also a large factor in developing diabetes. The more active you are, the more sensitive your cells stay to insulin and the better they can process blood sugar. When you’re inactive, your cells are more likely to become insulin resistant, meaning they won’t allow insulin into the cell. This causes your blood sugar, which is transported by insulin remaining in the blood stream, to elevate over time. To prevent this, aim to be physically active for a minimum of 30 minutes per day. And keep in mind, exercise is cumulative! That means that if you walk briskly for 10 minutes three times per day, it’s just as beneficial to your health as walking for 30 minutes all at once. So get up and start moving!