The results of your blood tests are in, and your doctor explains that your blood glucose levels are abnormal. The diagnosis: Prediabetes.
If you do hear this diagnosis, make no mistake: It's serious. Your risk of getting full-blown type 2 diabetes over the next 10 years is high, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Here's your window to step things up and make changes that will effectively lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Often however, many patients don't swing into action, says DiabeticLifestyle Advisory Board Member Amy Hess Fischl, MS, RD, LDN, BC-ADM, CDE, a diabetes educator at the University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center. "Denial is one of the most common reactions," she says, whether the diagnosis is pre-diabetes or many other health conditions.
Here, four common signs you may be in denial about your diagnosis of pre-diabetes—and why you should reconsider these common denial scenarios.
While ignoring the news is common, Hess Fischl says you are less likely to brush it off if your doctor explains what a pre-diabetes diagnosis involves. Once blood sugar rises to abnormal pre-diabetes levels, she says, the risk of getting diabetes increases, and with diabetes comes an increased risk of other serious diseases, including heart disease, blindness and kidney disease.
Recently, one of Hess Fischl's patients asked: What would happen if I did nothing about diet, exercise and other lifestyle measures? When Hess Fischl told her she was likely to develop full-blown diabetes, she vowed to make some lifestyle changes, such as walking at lunchtime with a co-worker.
You may step up to the plate after hearing the news, reducing calories and increasing exercise. All's going well until you hit the one-month mark, and haven't lost much if any weight. So you figure, why try? Hess Fischl addresses this denial mentality with some realistic information: It always takes more exercise and more food reduction than most people think to make a dent in weight. Most people underestimate both, she says. If you have a clear goal in mind, such as exercising a set amount each day, or reducing calories by a certain number, it can help.
Maybe you hear that you need to cut down on portion size and you switch to ''poor me, I'm deprived" mode. You're thinking: no more dinners out, no more happy hours, no more birthday cake.
That's not the goal or the point, Hess Fischl tells patients in the deprivation mode. "When people are diagnosed the number one thing they ask is 'What can I eat?' They cut out everything [they like] and are miserable," she says.
Instead, think small steps, small changes, she says. When it comes to pre-diabetes, very simple changes can lead to better blood sugar control. One small but effective step: stop drinking sugary soft drinks, juices and sport drinks. "All of those add so many calories," says Hess Fischl.
Diet and exercise have a major effect on reducing your risk of getting diabetes, she says. That was proven in the Diabetes Prevention Program, a major research study of more than 3,200 men and women with high blood glucose. The group that aimed to lose just 7 percent of their body weight and keep it off through diet and exercise reduced their risk of getting diabetes by 58 percent. The study was published in 2002 and a long-term follow up found the effects of a good diet and weight control hold.
If you're ready to say sayonara to "poor me" mode, check out these 10 tips for how to get started and stay motivated with an exercise plan. Then plan a week's worth of meals by choosing from hundreds of diabetes-friendly recipes that taste as good as they look.
There's no way you can have pre-diabetes, you think, since you don't feel any different. You're wondering if maybe the lab messed up your test results.
Often, there are no clear symptoms that show up with pre-diabetes, Hess Fischl says. Once you have type 2 diabetes, you may notice increased thirst and frequent urination. But these do not typically surface in pre-diabetes.