by Lucy Brown Pugliese, MBA, RDN, CDN
It’s the time of year when Americans set their New Year’s resolutions. Weight loss frequently tops the list of resolutions. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), being overweight raises your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart attack and stroke. It can also increase risk of high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol and high blood glucose (sugar).
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in three American adults have prediabetes, a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough yet to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Ninety percent of those with prediabetes don’t even know they have it. The good news is that prediabetes can be reversed. According to the ADA, you can lower your risk for Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent by losing 7 percent of your body weight (e.g., 14 pounds if you are 200 pounds) and exercising 30 minutes a day, five days a week (150 minutes per week). Don’t worry if you can’t get to your ideal body weight—losing even 10 to 15 pounds makes a huge difference. If the goal is to lose weight, you need to eat right and exercise more.
When it comes to making changes to improve your lifestyle, setting SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time) goals is a good way to put a plan in place. Keep a food journal of everything you eat and drink that includes quantity and time of consumption. Chart your exercise routines, such as what activities you do and their duration. Tracking your eating patterns and exercise activities gives you the opportunity to review and assess your daily behaviors and see what changes you can make.
Start by adding one change each week. Instead of just trying to “eat better,” be specific. Plan to eat an extra piece of fruit or add a vegetable each day or replace one sugary drink with water. Incorporate one healthy change three to four days each week. Make smaller, attainable goals, and be realistic as to what you can do and give yourself enough time to achieve these goals. This is important so you are not discouraged. Small, consistent changes can make a huge difference over time!
Seek help from a qualified health professional. A registered dietitian (RD) or registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) is your best source. An RD or RDN will help you determine measurable and achievable goals and develop a plan to help you achieve them.
Source: Lucy Brown Pugliese, MBA, RDN, CDN, Long Island Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics PR chairperson. For more information, visit EatRightLI.org and click on the “Find a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist” link.