How do you get type 2 diabetes? The biggest lifestyle risk factors are weight, a sedentary lifestyle, and a poor diet. Even though this disease is sometimes called adult-onset diabetes, more and more children are being diagnosed all the time.
Being overweight or obese is one of those risk factors that can be improved. Losing weight is never easy... but making small, sustainable changes can help you shed those extra pounds. Sometimes people believe that you have to lose a significant amount of weight for there to be any benefit. Thinking about the amount of weight to lose can be daunting, but in reality, even a small weight loss is an improvement.
Don't bother with all the fad diets. Very few people can continue to eat that way forever. It's better to work with a dietitian and come up with a sustainable plan that you can follow for the rest of your life, one that includes foods you enjoy.
Morbid obesity is a serious problem in and of itself. Morbid obesity is defined as being 100 or more pounds over your ideal weight. Some people who are morbidly obese seek to have gastric bypass surgery in an effort to lower their risk of getting diabetes, or to improve the management of their diabetes. Surgery has its own set of risks and complications. Always consult with your doctor (a second opinion is useful too) and ask lots of questions about the surgery, risks, recovery time, and after-care before deciding whether or not to proceed.
Another big risk factor for getting type 2 diabetes is leading a sedentary lifestyle. Our busy lives make it difficult to find the time or energy to exercise, yet regular exercise is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. Exercise helps to improve circulation, control blood sugar levels, improve cholesterol, and manage blood pressure - plus we become more fit and able to enjoy being out and about and physically active.
Once again, you don't have to go full out and become a marathon runner or a triathlete in order to benefit from exercise. So long as you establish a regular exercise routine there are lots of things you can do -- even as simple as going for a walk every day, or going for a bike ride around the park. Start slowly and gradually increase the amount you do. If you are already showing signs of diabetes such as foot problems, pick another exercise that can fit you better. For example, try swimming or an aquacize class. The water better supports your weight and keeps a lot of pressure off your feet. If it's been a while since you last exercised, discuss it with your doctor just to make sure that it's safe.
The final big lifestyle risk is a poor diet. With busy lives and fast food outlets readily available to us, many people quickly grab what they can -- and often it's not the best food choices. Refined and processed foods, and fried and fatty foods are not good for anyone... but particularly not good for people at risk of getting diabetes! Blood sugar control is vitally important and these types of foods tend to raise glucose levels very high. Everyone, including diabetics, should strive to eat a healthy diet that includes lots of fresh, whole vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, with some lean meats and healthy fats. Dietary changes can be really tough to make, and even easier to regress to previous habits - so pick your battles carefully. Start with small steps that you know you can keep up. Then tackle the bigger ones.
The great thing about these lifestyle changes is that they all help each other: by exercising regularly and eating better, you may find it easier to lose those extra pounds. When you lose a few extra pounds it's easier to get moving. The more you exercise, the more weight you may be able to drop. Consider it a pro-active "diabetes treatment plan"!
If any of these lifestyle risks pertain to you, now's the time to take action. Once you know what causes diabetes you can start making changes to lower your risk to delay and possibly even prevent getting type 2 diabetes.