A Quick Guide to Prevent Diabetes

A Quick Guide to Start Your Journey to Prevent Diabetes

Publish Date November 7, 2022 5 Minute Read

A diabetes diagnosis can be a scary moment for you, a member of your family or a friend. Instead of focusing on the “what ifs,” let’s focus on what you can do now to help prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. Focusing on the now can help shift this typically negative topic in a positive, prevention-focused way. Read on for helpful diabetes prevention tips.

Diabetes 101

To begin, let’s focus on what diabetes is. Diabetes is when your blood contains too much glucose (blood sugar) due to your body not being able to produce enough insulin, or not being able to properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas that helps regulate glucose in your blood stream. Excess glucose in your body can cause health issues over time.

There are three main types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational. You might have also heard of prediabetes, which is when someone may be on the borderline for getting diabetes.

With Type 1 diabetes, your pancreas makes little to no insulin. Type 1 is less common than Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes can be managed through lifestyle changes and regular monitoring. Type 2 diabetes develops over time and can be improved with lifestyle changes. Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes people can develop while pregnant, and it can put them at a higher risk for developing diabetes after pregnancy. Visit the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) website for more in-depth information on the different types of diabetes.


Now let’s shift our focus to prevention. When we discuss diabetes prevention, it’s about what we can do or are willing to do right now to help prevent or delay diabetes. Let’s start with lifestyle changes, which include food, movement, stress and sleep.

Food plays a factor in diabetes prevention. It begins with the mindset you have around food, and you should remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Foods to incorporate in your diet to help with glucose regulation and diabetes prevention consist of 5 key food groups – protein, dairy, fruits, vegetables and grains (yes, carbohydrates are a part of diabetes prevention too).

Proteins – Focus on leaner proteins like chicken, turkey, fish, lean cuts of beef and pork, nuts, seeds, tofu, beans, eggs and legumes. You can get a double boost of nutrients when you include a protein that has fiber or heart-healthy fats like beans, legumes, fish, nuts and seeds.

Dairy – Depending on individual preference, you can include dairy or a dairy alternative in your meal planning. Focusing on low-fat dairy like milk, cheese, yogurt (Greek yogurt is great for an extra protein kick), cottage cheese or string cheese is best. There are also dairy options that contain probiotics and heart-healthy fats, too. If you find yourself enjoying more whole-fat dairy, think about a combination of options – for example, if you like whole milk, try to include low-fat options in your diet too, like a low-fat yogurt.

Fruits and Vegetables – Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins, minerals, fiber and water. It’s easy to grab the same fruit or vegetable each week when you shop, but it’s also important to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet, to ensure that you’re getting a good variety of nutrients. Try to “eat the rainbow” by choosing fruits and veggies with different colors…for instance, if strawberries are always fresh in your fridge, pick up some kiwis the next time you shop.

Grains – Carbohydrates help regulate blood glucose levels, and they’re the body’s main source of energy. If you’re currently thinking carbohydrates are what you need to limit, think twice. Focus on eating complex carbohydrates like 100% whole wheat varieties, including brown rice, quinoa, popcorn, oatmeal, farro, barley and more.

Let’s look at foods as a way to bring joy to our lives and fuel ourselves. There’s no one-size-fits-all eating pattern, so we have to look at ourselves individually to figure out what works best for us. Start with small changes, like adding one new fruit or vegetable a week, then work to make those changes stick.

Diabetic-friendly recipe inspiration

Recommended by our team of dietitians, these recipes will help support your healthy lifestyle.

More Lifestyle Changes

We discussed how food and nutrition can impact health, but let’s not forget other factors like sleep, stress and movement. These three are just as important as the food we eat when it comes to the prevention of diabetes. Maybe you aren’t ready to change the way you eat, but you’re willing to increase movement, find ways to decrease your stress or work to improve your sleep routine. Start there and your body will thank you. For more information on how to improve your sleep, stress and movement, visit the CDC’s website.

Another important step to preventing diabetes is having a yearly check up with your primary care provider. This checkup will include a screening for diabetes. And if you need advice or help with making changes to your lifestyle, our registered dietitians can assist you. Consider signing up for a telenutrition appointment today.