How I avoid diabetes complications, as a prediabetic woman over 40

minute read
March 6, 2023
A prediabetic mother preparing a meal with her daughter.
Note: Image for illustration only. It does not show the author of this story. Photo credit - August de Richelieu.

As a woman over 40, I know that taking care of my health is key to living a long and happy life.

But 5 years ago, I was diagnosed as a prediabetic – My HbA1c reading was 6.6% (below 5.7% is considered normal)

My wake-up call

My diagnosis was a wake-up call. Looking at my parents and close family, I saw a clear history of diabetes complications.

Previously I’d taken steps to simply delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. But my prediabetes diagnosis made me determined to avoid it completely.

I didn’t want that life for me or my children – I needed to take control of my health and make some important lifestyle changes.

Getting started

My first step was to prioritise my new goal – I couldn’t afford to let it slip out of reach.

I started by educating myself on what prediabetes is and how it’s different from diabetes. In the beginning, I was filled with anxiety, thinking it was just another way of saying I was diabetic and couldn’t live a normal life anymore. However, I soon learned that prediabetes is a condition where your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetes – It’s a warning sign that you’re at risk of developing diabetes, but it’s not too late to make changes and delay or even prevent the disease.

My next step, and one of the most important, was to change my diet and make healthy food choices. This meant eating a balanced diet that included plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. I found it helpful to focus on nutrient-dense foods that made me feel full and satisfied, like salads with lots of veggies and grilled chicken or salmon. And when I wanted to eat something heavy in carbohydrates, I made sure to add healthy fibre to the meal (to balance the glycemic load overall) and exercise after.

Balancing my physical and stress levels

Staying active was another key aspect of my prediabetes management plan. Regular exercise helped me lower my blood sugar levels and improve my body’s insulin sensitivity. I started by taking daily walks and doing yoga a few times a week – This not only helped me manage my blood sugar levels but improved my overall mood and well-being as well.

I also learned that taking care of my stress levels was another important part of prediabetes self-management. When I was stressed, my body felt uncomfortable. And research showed me that when the body is stressed, it releases hormones that cause your blood sugar levels to rise. To avoid this, I found it helpful to practise relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation and mindfulness – This helped me manage my stress levels.

Getting regular check-ups

Another important step I included in my prediabetes management was to get regular checkups with my doctor.

This allowed me to monitor my condition and also gain additional support. My family doctor provided me with guidance and added motivation to stay fit and active. Consulting with them also helped me feel more in control, confident and focused – I recommend all prediabetics consult regularly with their doctor, stay on top of their health, and be proactive in managing their prediabetes.

Taking care of my mental health

As well as working on improving my physical health, I also made sure to take care of my mental health.

I joined support groups and looked for other available resources to help me manage my prediabetes. Talking to other prediabetics was incredibly helpful and comforting, and sharing my thoughts and struggles with people going through the same challenges I was gave me a great sense of relief – There are many online communities and in-person support groups you can join for this purpose.

I also found that focusing on the positive changes I’d made and the progress I’d accomplished helped me stay motivated – It’s easy to get discouraged by a prediabetes diagnosis, but you have to remember that it’s not too late to make changes and take control of your health, and it’s still possible to delay or even prevent diabetes at this stage.

Final thoughts

Managing prediabetes requires a holistic approach to your health. You need to eat healthily, exercise regularly, manage your stress, care for your mental health, and get regular checkups with your doctor.

It can be a challenging journey, but it’s also an opportunity to make positive changes in your life and improve your overall health and well-being.

I know from personal experience that it’s never too late to take control of your health, and I’m committed to making the necessary changes to successfully manage my prediabetes and live a long, healthy life.

And it’s working. My HbA1c reading of 6.6% from when I was diagnosed has fallen to 5.2% (normal levels).

Graphic of a female profile picture.
Sana Tayyab

Sana Tayyab is a 40+ year-old woman with a family history of diabetes complications. Diagnosed as prediabetic in 2018, she decided to address her diagnosis and proactively manage her condition. By modifying her diet and lifestyle, she’s managed to stay healthy and keep her blood sugar levels in a normal range.

Editor's note: The opinions and experiences reflected in stories from the diabetic community belong to the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of InDiabetes.

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