Facebook Twitter Instagram You Tube Pinterest LinkedIn RSS Podcasts Video Library Blog
 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Prevention: Staying Healthy

Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. This condition must be managed with insulin therapy or other treatments.

Prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes may be preventable. People can reduce their risk or delay the onset of these types of diabetes by making healthy choices and incorporating healthy habits into their daily routine.

It is important for everyone to eat healthy, exercise and maintain a healthy weight—these three things can help people remain healthy throughout their lives. However, for those at high risk for diabetes, doing these things can go a long way toward preventing the onset of diabetes.

Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet

Making healthy food choices is an important part of reducing your risk for diabetes. Start today by incorporating these healthy eating habits into your routine:

  • Eat more fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Eat less processed foods and foods high in saturated fat and calories
  • Eat a variety of foods of all different colors
  • Eat smaller portions of food at each meal
  • Avoid fast food restaurants
  • Look for new recipes to spice things up and cook at home

Check out the tools below, and learn ways to improve your eating habits:

We recommend that you speak with your healthcare professional before starting a diet plan.

Exercise More

Make it a goal to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. Experts recommend an hour of physical activity each day, but if that seems like too much, remember that doing any amount of exercise is better than doing none at all. Try these tips below to stick with your exercise plan:

  • Find an activity that you enjoy such as walking, riding a bike, yoga, etc

  • Try to fit in 30 minutes of activity each day, even if it’s broken up into three 10-minute sessions

  • Exercise with a friend to stay motivated

  • Fit more activity into your day with this physical activity check list (pdf)

  • Keep track of your progress with the get fit calendar (pdf)

If you do not have an established exercise routine, we recommend that you speak with your healthcare provider before starting a new plan.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

People who are overweight can reduce their risk of developing diabetes by losing even 5 percent of their body weight. That’s only 10 pounds for someone who weighs 200 pounds.

The best way to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight is to eat healthy and increase physical activity. Although it may seem difficult to lose weight and keep it off, it is possible, and the benefits—physical, mental and emotional—are well worth it. Losing weight through healthy lifestyle changes will help you feel better, and may also reduce your risk of certain diseases and prolong your life.

We recommend that you speak with your healthcare professional before starting a weight loss plan.

Setting Goals

Set SMART goals to make healthy changes to your eating habits and exercise routine:

Specific: List specific information in your goals. This includes what you would like to accomplish, why, and how do you plan to do it.
Example: I will increase my physical activity to include 30 minutes of walking, 5 days a week, in order to lose 5 pounds and fit into my favorite jeans.

Measurable: Make your goals easy to measure.
Example: Including “30 minutes of walking” instead of just saying “walk more”.

Attainable: Focus on developing short-term goals as well as long-term goals so that your goals feel reachable and not overwhelming.

Realistic: Your goals should not be impossible to achieve—you don’t want to set yourself up for failure. Make sure you are willing and able to work towards and achieve your goals.

Timely: Include a time-frame with your goals; this will help you achieve them. Remember that you are making a lifestyle change and this will take time.
Example: I will lose an average of one pound per week for 5 weeks.

Evaluate: Take time to evaluate the progress you’ve made toward your goals and celebrate your successes.

Re-evaluate: As you are working toward your goals, be sure to re-evaluate and revise as needed.

Stress Management

Learning how to cope with stress is another important factor for keeping your body healthy. The first step in managing stress is to remember that you are your most important resource. Use the tips and strategies below each day, and soon these activities will be part of your daily routine. Remember that small changes can make a big difference!

  • Determine your priorities. Make a list of what you consider most important (such as your health, your family, your friends), and don’t stress about the rest (such as traffic).

  • Learn how to say no. You may find that less important responsibilities are taking up too much of your time and attention.

  • Find an activity or hobby you enjoy. Activities such as gardening, playing music, spending time with friends, or writing in a journal can take you away from your daily stressors and provide an outlet for stress.

  • Physical activity, such as walking, is a great way to decrease stress.

  • Good nutrition can also improve your ability to cope with stress. Caffeine and sugar can increase irritability and sleep problems. By reducing these items, you can better cope with stress.

  • Take time to relax and get plenty of sleep.

  • Use this technique for stress management (pdf)


If you would like to schedule an appointment with an endocrinologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, you may call the Physician Referral Service at 1-877-926-4664 or request a first time appointment online.

Last UpdateAugust 4, 2011


To make an appointment with a physician, please call 1-877-926-4664.

New patients can request an appointment online.