Ways You Can Help Your Family Members Eat Healthy and Prevent Diabetes

Approximately one in three American adults has prediabetes — a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes — and of that population, 90% don’t know they have the disease.

But in most cases, type 2 diabetes can be prevented by adopting simple lifestyle changes like more exercise, a healthier diet, and weight management. One of the most important dietary changes is to reduce meat and increase consumption of plant-based foods, like nuts, whole grains and greens.

In his new book, Healthy at Last, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams explains how he was able to reverse his diabetes diagnosis by increasing his amount of weekly exercise and switching to a diet consisting of mostly whole foods and plant-based ingredients. Adams emphasizes that diet and exercise are two sides of the same coin, and that making small adjustments to what you eat can positively impact other areas of your life.

Adams recounts that as a police officer for more than two decades he had mastered the fast-food dollar menu. And like many busy Americans, the last thing he wanted to think about was cooking quinoa and kale. But eventually his diet caught up to him, and he became reliant on medication and insulin. Convinced there was a better solution, Eric Adams began incorporating more plant-based ingredients into his diet. After three months of plant-based eating, he lost 35 pounds, lowered his cholesterol by 30 points, and reversed the course of his diabetes.

Meatless Monday echoes the sentiment that food is nature’s medicine, and that by incorporating more whole, unprocessed plant-based ingredients into our diet, we can reduce our risk of developing chronic diseases and become healthier in mind, soul, and body. See how you can create delicious meatless meals every day of the week with our simple tips and collection of plant-based recipes.

Tips for reducing the risk of Type 2 Diabetes:

  • Substitute meat with a plant-based protein, such as beans, lentils or tofu.
  • Introduce family members to plant-based dishes.
  • Eat smaller portions of meat and add more vegetables to your plate.
  • Eat more fiber-rich foods, like beans and legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods may help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases.
  • Substitute whole grains for refined grains. Look for whole wheat, whole grain or oats on the ingredient list.
  • Eat more nuts, nut butters and seeds.
  • Limit added sugar.
  • Avoid processed meat such as sausages, bologna, hot dogs, cured and smoked meats. Processed meat is associated with a higher incidence of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.
  • Introduce healthy lifestyle habits to help maintain a healthy weight.
  • Be active every day.
  • Overall, substituting more plant-based foods for meat is more likely to result in a healthier body weight. According to the CDC, a 5% to 7% of weight loss can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Think you or a loved one may be at risk? Take (or share) the 60-second American Diabetes Association (ADA) type 2 diabetes risk assessment quiz and find out.