Ten Steps to Preventing Diabetes

Let’s say that you’re not diabetic and, of course, you want to keep it that way. But you have a couple of family members with diabetes, and you’re wondering if it’s inevitable that it’s going to happen to you, too. Not necessarily. Here are some things you can do to dramatically reduce the likelihood of developing diabetes.

#1 Don’t make your insulin do all the work! Get your muscles to do their share. Run around, take a walk, play outside, toss a ball, take a yoga class, get some exercise!

#2  Eat something that you absorb slowly before you eat anything that you absorb quickly. We absorb three things slowly: protein, fat and fiber. We absorb one thing quickly: stripped carb (like sugar, white flour, corn syrup, white rice). There are two benefits to eating slow-absorbed foods first: First, the protein, fat, and/or fiber mix in your stomach with stripped carb to decrease its absorption rate. 2) Secondly, if your stomach is fuller to start with, you may end up eating less stripped carb.

#3 Try eating something highly acidic before you eat something sweet. To be honest, I have not seen any research on it; it’s just one of those pieces of kitchen wisdom that seems to work. So drink a glass of water mixed with a teaspoon of cider vinegar before your meal.

#4 Choose carbohydrates with color and fiber (like fruits, vegetables and beans) instead of eating ones that have had their fiber stripped away. That means whole grains instead of stripped grains. Oranges instead of juice. Dates instead of sugar. Blueberries instead of Boo-berries.

#5 Drink water or unsweetened iced tea instead of soda, even diet. Do you think that doctors or scientists named it “diet” soda?

#6 Load your plate with fruits and vegetables, and leave room for one brownie, instead of two. In nature you almost never find carbohydrate without the fiber attached. With very few exceptions, stripped carbs are a relatively recent invention, and they are making America sick.

#7 Have a spoonful of peanut butter, or an avocado, or a glass of milk before you head out for a party or to hang out with friends to eat snacks all afternoon. Filling your belly with nourishing fats and protein helps cut the amount of stripped carb you end up eating. Peanuts are rich in protein, fat, and fiber, a three-in-one winner! If you are allergic to peanuts, try almonds. If you can’t eat any nuts, try sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

#8 The more you move, the better you protect your blood sugars. Think big. Organize a group at work to walk together at lunchtime. Work on putting in sidewalks in your town. Build a community garden. Go for a walk after dinner. Organize a weekly neighborhood ball game after Sunday dinner.

#9 Lastly, be kind to yourself. Calming your nervous system lowers your stress hormones, and that improves your blood sugars too. Try anything you like, including meditation, massage, yoga, hiking, sailing, fishing, knitting, reading. These aren’t indulgences. And if we don’t dedicate at least a little bit of time to taking care of ourselves now, we’ll spend those resources later at the drugstore. Ugh.

#10 Figure out what works for you, and stick with it. Teach your friends, siblings, and parents. Diabetes is not inevitable, and pre-diabetes is reversible. You can keep yourself off the road to diabetes.

3 thoughts on “Ten Steps to Preventing Diabetes

  1. Dear Dr. Sukol,
    Just what I needed. Reminders. After years of low blood sugar, my fasting glucose is creeping up. Your mentioning of fats and vinegar is so helpful. I am watching things, but this list is a keeper. Thanks again.



    • Indeed, it is. Type 2 diabetes is epidemic in the U.S. now, with fully half of 65 year olds now with abnormal blood sugars (prediabetes and diabetes). While also on the rise for unclear reasons, type 1 diabetes, on the other hand, affects a comparatively small fraction of the population. In any case, however, strategies for reducing insulin requirements are relevant and beneficial for everyone.


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