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The Basics for National Diabetes Month

Author: be well™ with Big Y® Registered Dietitian Team

Do you know if you have diabetes or prediabetes?

In honor of November being National Diabetes Month, learn about the basics of diabetes and how it’s best managed. Don’t think you’re at risk? Think again.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2022 National Diabetes Statistics Report, approximately 8.5 million Americans have undiagnosed diabetes and 96 million adults, or more than 1 in 3, are living with prediabetes.¹

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when your body’s cells no longer accept the energy you eat through food. Your cells use glucose, or blood sugar, for energy. Everything you eat— fat, protein and carbohydrates— will be turned into blood sugar. How the body handles that blood sugar depends on your needs. Some will be used immediately and some will be stored for later use.

When your cells aren’t able to properly accept blood sugar, your brain continues receiving the message that your cells are hungry for energy, regardless of how much glucose is circulating in your blood. This process is similar to having the wrong key for a door. All you can do is hang out and wait.


Unfortunately, when too much glucose just “hangs out” in your blood, it causes damage to other parts of the body. For example, consistent elevated blood sugar will increase your likelihood of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, nerve and kidney damage.

The end result of untreated diabetes? Increased risk for a stroke, heart attack, blindness, amputation, kidney failure and subsequent need for a kidney transplant.


Stay Safe & In the Know

Many people live life as usual with chronic high blood sugar. It isn’t until the body begins to fail functioning with a high level of glucose circulating in the blood that signs of diabetes show. This stage is considered the “prediabetes” phase.

The best way to find out if you have diabetes is to keep up with doctor’s appointments (including dental and eye appointments) and be screened regularly. Additionally, you can assess your risk with the American Diabetes Association’s Risk Test.


Prevent Diabetes

Other than keeping up with medical appointments and screenings, there is a three-pronged approach to preventing diabetes: be active, eat well and maintain a healthy weight.

The best way to prevent diabetes is to act as if you already have it!

  • Move your body so you use excess glucose circulating in your blood and stored in cells.
  • Enjoy foods that give you more nutrient punch bite-per-bite. Eat more:
    • Vegetables
    • Beans
    • Nuts & Seeds
    • Soy
    • Fruit
    • Whole Grains
    • Seafood
    • Lean Cuts of Meat, Poultry and Pork
    • Lowfat dairy like milk, yogurt and cheese.
  • Lose weight, if necessary. Losing just 5-7% of your current body weight can be the deciding factor between preventing or delaying your development of diabetes.²


Diabetes & The Holidays

Have you, or someone you love, been diagnosed with prediabetes or diabetes? Read on to learn how you can have your cake AND eat it too this holiday season!


¹ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report website. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics-report/index.html. Accessed 11/7/2022.
² Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group. Long-term effects of lifestyle intervention or metformin on diabetes development and microvascular complications over 15-year follow-up: The Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. 2015;3(11):866‒875.


Reviewed 11/14/2022