Daily Tips for Preventing Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes
Down in the Bayou State, Laissez les bon Temps Rouler is usually synonymous with indulging in good food and drinks. The area is known for classic treats like beignets, boudin, kingcakes, and even boudin kingcakes. Hank Williams sings about jambalaya, crawfish pie, and filet gumbo when paying tribute to Louisiana. We even have festivals of all sorts that celebrate our unique cuisine– the Po-boy Fest, Creole Tomato Festival, Catfish Festival and Crawfish festival– just to name a few. There is no question about it that Louisiana loves food, even adopting the old adage that we “Live to Eat”, not eat to live.
New Orleans is ranked as one of the top foodie cities in the country. However, this honor also comes with the less desirable title of the “obesity-diabetes heartland of America”, as coined by Nola.com. In 2019, data gathered by the United Health Foundation indicates that 35.8% of Louisiana adults are obese; furthermore, 30.2% of those 65+ also fall into this category. Even more alarming is the annual rate of increase, bringing this number up from 11.6% just 20 years ago. Being overweight or obese greatly increases the risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes. While this is most commonly referred to as adult-onset diabetes, we are seeing more and more young people and children with type 2 diabetes, as obesity increases among all age groups.
Diet alone is not all to blame, however. Another critical component in the rise of obesity and diabetes is the lack of activity across the board. Seniors are noted as being the most sedentary of any age group, with physical activity levels steadily decreasing as age increases. Inactivity can cause your muscles and bones to weaken and your metabolism to slow down. Low levels of physical activity can also contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer.
Overall, diabetes and obesity play a huge role in your systemic health as a whole. These diseases can leave your immune system weakened, making you susceptible to getting sick more frequently, slowing down healing times, and feeling stressed and fatigued, in addition to many other negative effects. Obesity, along with being overweight, is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States, coming in just behind tobacco use; nearly 300,000 people per year succumb to obesity. While this is a staggering statistic, there is some good news hidden within this statement. Obesity is preventable!
If you or a loved one suffers from obesity and/or type 2 diabetes, or if you are at risk for falling into one or both categories, there’s hope! You must look at your current lifestyle and see what changes you can make in order to minimize or prevent the likelihood of experiencing these health issues. For our elderly population, this is especially important, as there is likely a lifetime of poor habits that need to be tweaked; however, even an old dog can learn new tricks! We have compiled a list of the most important areas to focus on to promote a healthy lifestyle.
Follow a Healthy Meal Plan
- Eat small meals, frequently. It is recommended that you eat every 2.5-3 hours to help maintain your blood sugar levels.
- Focus on nutrient dense foods and avoid processed foods. The rule of thumb here is to purchase the majority of your groceries from the perimeter of the grocery store, and only shop for a few items from within the inner aisles.
- Meals should be comprised of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, fruits & vegetables, and healthy fats. Meet with a registered dietician to help develop a plan that best works for your needs.
- Keep a food diary to hold you accountable and make you aware of your intake.
- Water should be your primary form of fluids throughout the day.
- Drink a minimum of 8 cups of water per day.
- Thirst is often mistaken for hunger. When you are well hydrated, you’re less likely to overeat, or eat out of habit.
- If you know a certain type of food sends you into a downward spiral, avoid it.
- Sugary foods and fried foods should be considered a splurge and only enjoyed on a rare occasion.
- Fill your refrigerator and pantry with healthy options, so you are not tempted to make unhealthy choices.
- Prep healthy meals and snacks that are readily available… “If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”
Establish a Daily Exercise Routine
- Build physical activity into your daily routine. If you schedule it as a part of your day, you will always have time for it!
- Aim for a minimum of 150 minutes, per week, of moderate-intensity activity.
- Keep an exercise journal. Much like the food diary, this allows you to document your daily activity, so you are more diligent in completing your weekly minutes.
Use the tips above to avoid becoming part of the statistics. Be proactive and take the necessary steps to prevent type 2 diabetes and obesity. Preventative health may be a little extra work and effort up front, but it saves tremendously in the long run. You can still live a healthy lifestyle and “pass a good time” down on the bayou!