Prevent or Manage Diabetes with Diet and Exercise, NYC Dietitian Tips

Diabetes impacts over 30 million Americans, with nearly 1 million under the age of 20. According to the 2017 National Diabetes Statistics Report, the total direct and indirect medical costs of diabetes in 2012 were $245 billion, making it the seventh leading cause of death in 2015. The statistics can be daunting, with one in every 10 Americans grappling with diabetes. However, there’s no need to panic.


Approximately 9 out of 10 cases of Type II diabetes are preventable. Of the mentioned cases, only 5% are Type I diabetes. This emphasizes that each day, you are at the core of your care team. By adhering to basic exercise and nutrition tips, you can stave off Type II diabetes.


The Science of Diabetes

Our bodies require glucose (blood sugar) for proper functioning. Carbohydrates break down in the stomach to produce glucose, which is then absorbed into the bloodstream. The pancreas generates insulin, acting as a gatekeeper that unlocks doors to cells, allowing glucose in for energy. Individuals with diabetes either do not produce insulin (as in Type I diabetes) or are insulin resistant (Type II diabetes). Those who no longer produce insulin lack a gatekeeper, preventing glucose from entering cells. Conversely, those with insulin resistance have insulin unable to move glucose into cells, resulting in a traffic jam scenario in the bloodstream, wreaking havoc on the body.


Excessive glucose in the blood leads to artery damage in the heart, kidneys, and eyes, resulting in heart attacks, end-stage renal disease, and blindness. It can also harm nerves in the hands and feet, causing pain and reduced function.


Take a moment to consider your healthcare team—make a list. You might list a primary care physician, diabetes dietitian, endocrinologist,


Now, make sure, if you haven’t put your name down, that YOU are at the center of this list. With four simple steps, you can prevent insulin resistance. Remember, you are the center of your healthcare team. Here are some practical, easy-to-follow, and incredibly achievable measures to prevent or delay diabetes.


The importance of lifestyle modification for diabetes:


Be mindful.

Adopting a deliberate and mindful approach when you eat.  Slow down. Enjoy the flavors. And follow these simple guidelines: fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, a quarter with a protein source (such as grilled chicken, fish, or a meat substitute like beans or tofu), and the rest with a starch or carbohydrate. Opting for high-fiber whole-grain carbs, such as barley and quinoa, is an excellent choice. Providing your diet with an extra fiber boost proves effective in warding off diabetes. A diet rich in fiber enhances blood sugar control and reduces the risk of heart disease, and, due to the filling effect of fiber, you might discover that you feel full sooner, leading to consuming fewer calories.


Stay active!

Throughout centuries, scientists, explorers, and doctors have tirelessly sought the elusive elixir to turn back the clock on aging. Surprisingly, we’ve always possessed it: exercise. Exercise proves to be a powerful tonic for both the mind and body. The more you engage in physical activity and start distancing yourself from life’s challenges, the better your overall health will be. Cardiovascular fitness not only aids in preventing diabetes but also supports its management.



Set health and lifestyle goals that are Specific, Measurable, Agreed-upon, Reasonable, and Time-Based. Clearly outline your exercise and nutrition objectives. Instead of a vague goal like “I will eat more vegetables,” specify, “I will include one extra vegetable in my lunch and dinner.” Apply the same precision to your exercise routine.


Maintain a healthy weight.

Every effort counts. Statistics reveal that losing just 5-7% of your initial weight and maintaining it (avoiding yo-yo dieting, which is tough on the body) can reduce the risk of prediabetes progressing to diabetes by 71%.


Despite the intimidating statistics, we are at the core of our healthcare teams. It starts with incorporating small yet meaningful lifestyle adjustments. Each bite matters. Every step matters. Every decision regarding the food we consume and our level of physical activity contributes to our overall well-being and might just help us steer clear of diabetes.