Diabetes Prevention During a Pandemic

By: Nanci Jenkins, MS, RDN, LD, WIC Dietitian and D,HD, & S Grant Coordinator for Panhandle Health District 1

Have you checked your weight lately? Is your weight creeping up? Are your blood pressure and blood sugar levels rising? Or maybe you have no idea because it’s 2020 and the U.S. is still in the grip of a pandemic. You are not alone! Let’s face it; COVID-19 has changed many of our lives. We are spending more time at home. Our eating habits are changed and our routines for exercise are upended. Viola! The COVID-Ten arrives; ten pounds of unwanted weight gain commonly noted this fall as we realize one more effect the Pandemic has had on our health. Time to step away from the less healthy crowd starting today! The sooner you take that first step, the sooner you decrease your risk of Diabetes, Heart Disease, Stroke or an even more severe illness if you get COVID-19. So what can you do?  The following 3 simple steps will start you on your path towards better health.

1. Eat Well

Idahoan’s are told to stay at home these days so why not perfect the art of healthy cooking? Focus on increasing vegetables, fiber, and water. Worried about getting COVID-19 at the store? Have the store shop for you and pick up your groceries or have them delivered.

2. Eat Less

Watch an old movie from the 1950’s and pay attention to their plate and glass sizes. Try serving yourself on the smallest ones in your house. Or ask yourself the simple question before every meal or snack, “Do I really need to have these calories right now?”

3. Be More Physically Active

You’ve been walking daily and that’s great! Now try adding an exercise video when you return from your walk or later in the day. Ever tried yoga? “Sit and Be Fit”? Maybe hand weights, wall push-ups, or resistance bands are more your style? Make time for 150 minutes of activity at a moderate pace every week!

If you are at least 18 years old and are overweight or obese with a risk of diabetes, you may qualify for the National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP).  This is a CDC recognized and Medicare approved group Lifestyle Change program.  Panhandle Health District 1 (PHD1) offers DPP programs in Hayden and in Sandpoint as well as virtually. Go to https://panhandlehealthdistrict.org/diabetes-programs for more information.  If you prefer an in person program and live outside of the health district’s geographical area, you may find a DPP program closest to you by going to https://nccd.cdc.gov/DDT_DPRP/Registry.aspx.

Take that first step alone or take it with others in a group with a Lifestyle Coach as in a DPP class.  It’s up to you to take it any way that works best for you.  Make today be the day you step towards a healthier version of wonderful you!