1. Know your numbers
Monitoring and lowering your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure helps protect you against type 2. If you’re overweight, losing just five per cent of your weight can substantially reduce your diabetes risk.
Do a little exercise each day, cut back on alcohol and, if you smoke, now’s the time to quit. ‘Reduce your intake of takeaways, snack foods, salt, sugar and saturated fats,’ says diabetes educator Helen Edwards. ‘Instead, choose foods with a low glycaemic index (GI), which will help keep blood sugars stable.’
You can find a comprehensive list of low-GI foods at glycemicindex.com
2. Switch up your drinks
Fruit juices and soft drinks can cause your blood glucose levels to rise rapidly – and stay that way. In fact, having one very sugary drink a day can increase your risk of type 2 substantially – by 22 per cent for soft drinks and 21 per cent for fruit juices, according to UK research.
For a quick and easy, thirst-quenching drink, simply pour a glass of chilled water, add a squeeze of lime or lemon juice and top with a sprig of mint.
3. Wind down the wine
Downing more than two standard drinks of alcohol each day can kickstart weight gain and boost your triglycerides (blood fats), amping up your chances of developing type 2.
Aim to have no more than two alcoholic drinks a day. If you’re out, order spritzers (half wine/half mineral water) and alternate drinks with water. Choose red or white wines instead of fortified wines (like port), pre-mixed spirits and liqueurs, which can all cause a greater spike in BGLs.
4. Walk off work stress
UK researchers have discovered that workplace stress can double your risk of developing type 2. Why? Because anxiety (and office inactivity) can contribute to an expanding waistline, which in turn, makes you vulnerable to type 2.
Head outside for a few minutes every hour. Studies suggest that getting out and about in the fresh air will give you a natural energy boost, which can help you manage stress levels more effectively.
5. Dream on
Getting too little sleep can disrupt your body clock, affecting insulin production, promoting weight gain and causing your blood glucose levels to rise. The long-running Nurses’ Health Study, which tracked the health habits of 60,000 women for 16 years, found that women who slept for less than five hours each night had a 15 per cent higher chance of becoming overweight or obese compared to those who managed seven hours.
Limit caffeine and screen time before bed, as these can overstimulate your brain. Snore a lot? Have an overnight sleep study to rule out sleep apnoea, which is associated with a greater risk of heart attack, stroke and type 2.
6. Seek help if you’re feeling down
An estimated 45 per cent of Australians will experience depression or anxiety at some point during their lifetime. Research from Harvard University shows that depression can increase your chances of developing type 2, most likely because both mental disorders and the medication used to manage them affect hormones and energy levels.
Talk to a friend or counsellor, or make an appointment with your GP if your mood is affecting your ability to function and enjoy life. And aim to get 30 minutes of exercise each day, whether that’s hitting the gym, gardening or walking. In addition to helping to keep your weight under control, it’s a powerful mood booster.