By Irazema Garcia, First Mile Care Coach
Who is at risk for diabetes? It is estimated 84 million American adults have prediabetes and nine of out of ten do not even know they have it. With staggering numbers like those, it is hard to contemplate not knowing someone with prediabetes. Yet how often do you hear someone talking about it? And how often do you stop and wonder if you are one of those 84 million?
People with no family history of diabetes can still be at risk for prediabetes. Even when your blood glucose or HbA1c reading is not in the diabetes range, you can still be susceptible to developing it.
Traditionally, risk markers will include indicators such as family history or a record of gestational diabetes. However, there are also lifestyle factors that indicate higher risk for prediabetes and diabetes — especially if the lifestyle includes little to no physical activity or regular stress. Diabetes prevention needs to be discussed.
Diabetes can be prevented, and prediabetes can be reversed. It takes time and effort, but it can be done — with DPP.
Making small changes to counterproductive long-term habits can decrease the chances of developing diabetes. Whether it is expending more time being active, learning to better cope with stress, or eating more nourishing foods, lifestyle changes can reap big results. In fact, the National Institutes of Health Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) study “showed that participants in the DPP Lifestyle Change Program lowered their chances of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.”
The first step is acknowledging there is an issue. Coming to terms with the fact that you may be at risk is important: Chances are you won’t modify your behavior without first realizing changes are needed.
And without changes, the disease will move forward whether or not you acknowledge it — just as it has for millions of your peers and neighbors.
Dealing with prediabetes
Here are some steps you can take to see if it’s you who has prediabetes:
Assess risk. Speaking to a primary care provider is a great way to see if you are at risk for developing prediabetes. In the meantime, you can also take the CDC’s prediabetes test to gauge your odds.
Acknowledge and accept. If you are at high risk, acknowledge it. Acceptance does not mean surrender — it simply means you’re aware your risk is high for prediabetes. Come to terms with your diagnosis and take steps towards reversing it — you can halt its progression.
Find resources. “Why me?” and “Now What?” are common responses to a prediabetes diagnosis. Seeking out valid resources and information will ease your concerns and answer many questions about prediabetes.
Get support. You do not have to do this alone. Even modest lifestyle changes can be hard to make on your own. Joining a group filled with like-minded individuals who are trying to create new habits is a great way to find and give support. Among other benefits, Diabetes Prevention Programs (DPP) like First Mile Care typically offer informational sessions and coaching in a group setting to support your progress.