Small dietary changes can equal great results

Lately I have been seeing a lot of adolescents with pre-diabetes and new diagnosis Type II. It’s quite disconcerting… I meet with them and explain their lab values and the importance of taking control now, instead of later. Like most people, these kids respond best to small, reasonable changes. If you were to ask a teenager to avoid soda and fast food, good luck. You might as well tell them you want to take away their video games and cell phone while you’re at it.

No, an approach with a higher chance of success is to stress small changes and goal setting. For example, asking someone who currently drinks five sodas per day to cut down to two or three. Perhaps they love chips and ice cream for snacking every night. Possibly try limiting that to two-three night per week. I let them decide though because that’s the point of goal setting. The person who is making the changes needs to know that they are in charge.

Here are 10 small changes to consider. Just pick a few of them:

  • Cut sugary beverages by half. Like I said above, assess how many per day you drink on average (sports drinks, flavored milk, regular soda, juice, sweet tea, lemonade) and have less. It’s that simple.
  • If you’re not exercising, try adding 20 minutes of walking, stretching, or yoga to your day. If you already exercising make sure you’re meeting the CDC guidelines of at least 150 minutes per week.
  • Switch some of the “whites” (such as potatoes, rice, or bread) in your diet for something with more fiber that won’t spike your blood sugar (such as sweet potatoes, cauliflower mash, whole grain or whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, or rice blends).
  • Less dining out. Take the average amount you dine out in a week and cut that in half. It’s best not to exceed two times per week (this includes fine dining, family style, and buffets) not just fast food.
  • Switch that sugary, no fiber cereal with something that has at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. It might take some time to find something you love, but there are plenty of choices out there to get your day started right!
  • If you feel like portion control is your issue, the next time you fill your plate eat slowly and leave ¼ of it alone.
  • Snack like a bird – eat nuts, berries, and seeds! These items, along with a little whole wheat cereal or granola thrown in, make a delicious snack!
  • Drink water! I have to remind myself of this one every day. Take your refillable bottle with you everywhere.
  • Add a colorful salad to dinner every night with a small amount of dressing.
  • Eat your vegetables! Non-starchy vegetables should be taking up half your plate. When I demonstrated this to my 13-year-old the other night, I got a “are you kidding?!” Just try it. I think you’ll see that it’s not the end of the world.

Send me your small changes, tips, and tricks for better health!

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