Healthy lifestyle choices can help you prevent type 2 diabetes. Even if you have diabetes in your family, diet and exercise can help you prevent the disease. If you've already been diagnosed with diabetes, the same healthy lifestyle choices can help you prevent potentially serious complications. And if you have prediabetes, lifestyle changes can slow or halt the progression from prediabetes to diabetes.

  • Eat healthy foods. Choose foods low in fat and calories. Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Get physical. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day. Take a brisk daily walk. Ride a bike. Swim laps. If you can't fit in a long workout, spread 10-minute or longer sessions throughout the day.
  • Lose excess pounds. If you're overweight, losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can reduce the risk of diabetes. To keep your weight in a healthy range, focus on permanent changes to your eating and exercise habits. Motivate yourself by remembering the benefits of losing weight, such as a healthier heart, more energy and improved self-esteem.

Sometimes medication is an option as well. Metformin (Glucophage, Glumetza, others), an oral diabetes medication, may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes — but healthy lifestyle choices remain essential.

Jan. 25, 2013