PHOTO: FAHIMA CHODWHURY
One out of three Americans has prediabetes. That's when your blood sugar level is consistently higher than normal, but not quite crossing over the line to be diagnosed with type two diabetes.
I had a prediabetes scare when I was just 23. My entire family has a history of type two diabetes. My father was diagnosed back in 2001, and I'm pretty sure he'll pass that along to me (with thin hair and bad knees).
According to the founder of NY Nutrition Group, Dietitian Lisa Moskovitz, "Typically your risk for developing pre-Diabetes or type two Diabetes increases as you get older, however, the condition can present itself at any age or time in your life after the age of 20."
The trouble began for me when I figured out that since I won't be able to enjoy sweets when I'm older, why not indulge in all the sugary delights while I'm young? As you can guess, that was the beginning of my downfall.
Along with weight gain and body image issues, I felt a huge difference in my everyday health.
I had no energy at all. I felt lethargic and had no motivation to get fit. I was visiting the bathroom more often and I noticed an irregularity in my urine. Once I could tell there was something severely wrong with my body, I had to go to the doctors. After doing some blood work, it was brought to my attention that I was borderline diabetic.
What does it mean to be borderline diabetic?
Prediabetes and borderline diabetic are two simple ways of saying the same thing. A person who is borderline diabetic is someone who's blood sugar is high but hasn't surpassed the level to be considered diabetic.
Normal blood sugar typically has a range from 70mg/dl to around 140mg/dl depending on what time of day it is, and when you last ate.
My blood sugar level was at 200mg/dl, which was very high—but still hadn't reached the peak to tip it over to diabetes. Had I continued my careless sugar intake, I would've been diabetic before even turning 25.
It's really easy to brush off how much sugar you consume every day. From your morning coffee to after-work margaritas, and all the sugar filled goodies in between, it's pretty easy to neglect your sugar intake. You shouldn't wait until you feel sick like I did.
To stop the slide into type two diabetes, I met with a nutritionist to discuss preventative measures. She explained to me that I had to cut all excess sugars out of my day to day life. Not only did that mean no sweet indulgences, but it also meant a complete wipe out of my pantry.
According to Moskovitz, "A healthy diet for someone who is prediabetic includes plenty of vegetables, moderate amounts of fruits, healthy fats like nuts, seeds, olive oil, lean proteins like fish or chicken breast, unsweetened dairy products like light cheese, or plain Greek yogurts, and some whole grains like oats, brown rice, and whole-wheat bread."
Moskovitz says a prediabetic diet should be low in added sugars and compromise no more than 8-10 percent of total calorie intake for the day. One should also follow a low-glycemic diet which means eating foods that are not high on the glycemic index or do not raise blood sugars too quickly.
These small changes, along with moderate cardio five times a week for 30 minutes per session resulted in me losing some weight, but also feeling much better overall.
I became a better cook, and I realized just because it's healthy, doesn't mean it has to taste boring. I had a lot more energy to workout, and I just felt better about the way I looked and felt. Within a very short period of time, I was able to reset my blood sugar level and bring it down to a normal level.
Even if your family doesn't have a history of diabetes, it's better to be on the safe side and prioritize a healthy lifestyle over mindless eating. No one said you have to quit sweets permanently, you can still enjoy them in moderation.
Age and genetics definitely play a huge part in your health, but what you have control over is how you treat your body. So be mindful of what you eat and try your best to stay active.