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Ask A Dietitian: Pre-diabetes?

by Nichole Hudon, RD/LD

Q: My doctor sent me a note after a recent physical that said I have "prediabetes." I was told you either have diabetes or you don't. What is right?

A: While it is true that there is no such thing as "borderline" diabetes (which is probably what you are referring to), there is such a thing as prediabetes and it currently affects nearly 79 million Americans. The difference between diabetes and prediabetes is that in prediabetes, blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetic or even high enough to produce symptoms. Although many would not worry about this diagnosis, they should. Fifteen to thirty percent of people with prediabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes within five years if strides are not taken to reduce risk factors. The good news is, development of Type 2 diabetes at this stage is preventable with several small steps. There are several risk factors that cannot be controlled; age, family history and race but there are many things that can be managed such as physical activity, weight and eating habits.

Multiple studies have shown that the two most effective strategies for management of prediabetes are:

1. Reduce your body weight by seven percent. This may not put you at your goal weight but seven percent weight loss has proven to be an effective way to make the body more sensitive to the insulin that is being produced.

  • Eat less fat. Fat has the highest amount of calories per gram and is one of the easier ways to cut total calories without feeling deprived.
  • Eat smaller meals more often to keep the from over-taxing the body to produce a lot of insulin.
  • Reduce portions by 25%
  • Limit alcohol intake due to the high calorie content. - Choose higher fiber options of carbohydrates to help you feel fuller longer and also to slow the breakdown of food into the blood stream.

2. Get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week.

  • Start with 10 minute increments and build up as you can tolerate.
  • Add in some light weights to build lean muscle (a lean body burns more calories, even at rest!).
  • Aim for 30 minutes of brisk walking five times a week; if walking is difficult, look into swimming or other low-impact options.

As with anything, staying informed is most important. Take the Type 2 Diabetes Risk assessment at or give them a call at 1/800-DIABETES. If you have not had a Hemoglobin A1C done and feel you are at risk, don't be afraid to speak up and ask your doctor about it. You may also consider contacting a registered dietitian for individual counseling or to ask about any groups available to discuss other ways and programs to prevent Diabetes. You can find a dietitian in your area at  or call 307-5730 in the Norman area for more information.

For nutritional counseling, Norman Regional Health System offers the guidance of registered dietitians. Those interested can schedule an appointment for an assessment with a referral from their family physician.

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Norman Regional Health System

Office (405) 307.2143
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