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Diabetes: Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference

Personal health · Nov 5, 2021

It is estimated that 6 million Canadians are living with prediabetes, and 50% of these individuals will go on to develop type 2 diabetes.1 Long term health complications, such as heart disease and nerve damage can begin during prediabetes. 

Here’s the good news! Lifestyle changes can substantially help influence modifiable risk factors and decrease your chance of developing prediabetes. These risk factors include a sedentary lifestyle, poor sleep hygiene and excess belly fat. And there is increasing evidence that individuals suffering from a high level of workplace stress are at a greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes.2 

The following small changes can make a big difference to your risk level! Select one change at a time to ensure success.

Risk Factor:

A waist circumference greater than 102 centimeters (men) and 88 centimeters (women) — even a 5% to 10% weight loss can help decrease your risk.3  

Small Changes: 

  • Add 2 vegetables (one dark green leafy and one orange vegetable) each day

  • Follow Diabetes Canada Portion Guide 

  • Drink water instead of pop or juice

  • Limit restaurant meals and take-out to one per week

Risk Factor:

Prolonged sitting (for more than 1 hour) at your desk or on your couch — in addition to your regular exercise session it’s important to get up and move throughout the day.4

Small Changes:

  • Start with a 2 minute movement break every hour. Set your computer to remind you to get up!

  • Battle the binge! Limit yourself to one hour of screen time each evening

  • Take a 10 minute walk at lunch time

Risk Factor:

Poor sleep hygiene — sleeping 5 hours or less/night can increase your risk. And those suffering from sleep apnea are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.5

Small Changes:

  • Go to bed at the same time each night

  • Refrain from caffeine intake after 2pm

  • Stop alcohol intake 3 hours before bedtime

  • Finish your workout 4 hours before turning in

  • Get outdoors for 15 minutes of natural light every day

Risk Factor:

Workplace Stress — it is thought that a chronic increase in stress hormones can hinder the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and put you at risk for prediabetes.6,7

Small Changes:

  • Meditate or practice deep breathing starting with 5 minutes each day

  • Take 2 breaks/day away from your desk

  • Exercise for 30 minutes most days

  • Contact your EFAP (Employee & Family Assistance Program)

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References:

1 - Canadian Diabetes Association. (2021). About diabetes. DiabetesCanadaWebsite. Retrieved November 1, 2021, from https://www.diabetes.ca/about-diabetes.

2 - Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen - German Research Centre for Environmental Health. (2014, August 8). Work-related stress a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2021 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140808110720.htm.

3 - Wharton, S., Pedersen, S. D., Lau, D. C. W., & Sharma, A. M. (n.d.). Weight management in diabetes. DiabetesCanadaWebsite. Retrieved November 1, 2021, from https://www.diabetes.ca/health-care-providers/clinical-practice-guidelines/chapter-17#panel-tab_FullText.

4 - Diabetes UK. (n.d.). Sitting for long periods increases risk of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes UK. Retrieved November 1, 2021, from https://www.diabetes.org.uk/about_us/news_landing_page/sitting-for-long-periods-increases-risk-of-type-2-diabetes.

5 - Pacheco, D. (2020, November 20). Diabetes and sleep: Sleep disturbances & coping. Sleep Foundation. Retrieved November 1, 2021, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-health/lack-of-sleep-and-diabetes

6 - Li, J., Jarczok, M. N., Loerbroks, A., Schöllgen, I., Siegrist, J., Bosch, J. A., Wilson, M. G., Mauss, D., & Fischer, J. E. (2013). Work stress is associated with diabetes and prediabetes: cross-sectional results from the MIPH Industrial Cohort Studies. International journal of behavioral medicine, 20(4), 495–503. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12529-012-9255-0

7 - Staff, D. T. N. (2018, March 30). Can stress cause prediabetes? diabetestalk.net. Retrieved November 1, 2021, from https://diabetestalk.net/diabetic-diet/can-stress-cause-prediabetes.

Authored by:
Corporate Wellness team
TELUS Health Care Centres

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