Symptoms of Diabetes

What are the symptoms of diabetes

Diabetes vs Prediabetes

If you have not been diagnosed with diabetes, but are experiencing symptoms, you may be at risk for prediabetes, also known as stage 1 diabetes. Symptoms of prediabetes can be related to high blood sugar and insulin levels. If you have any signs of prediabetes, or even think you do, contact your healthcare provider. You can discuss your symptoms and ask for tests. Also keep in mind that most people do now have prediabetes symptoms, so checking for symptoms is only one part of finding out if you are at risk.

Prediabetes Symptoms

You may notice some symptoms with diabetes. They can include the following. [2]

Still, it is important to know that not only might you not get symptoms with diabetes, but you are unlikely to have symptoms with prediabetes. That is why you should know your risk.

Symptoms of Prediabetes That Has Progressed

You are more likely to get symptoms if your blood sugar stays high for longer periods of time. This can happen if you have prediabetes or diabetes and do not manage to get your blood sugar to target levels.

The side effects of symptoms of diabetes, or uncontrolled high blood sugar, include the following:

  • Increased thirst and more frequent need to urinate. The thirst results from too much sugar in your blood, similar to excessive thirst when you eat salty foods, and the extra urination comes from the need to excrete that extra water and sugar.
  • Fatigue, which results from your cells literally being low on energy because they are unable to get the glucose, or sugar, that they need due to insulin resistance.
  • Weight loss and hunger, again as the result of insulin resistance. Instead of extra sugar from carbs in your food being converted to and stored as fat, it gets excreted from your body.

Risk Factors for Prediabetes

You are unlikely to have clear signs of prediabetes, but you can still take action to stay healthy. The CDC suggests checking with your doctor about testing for prediabetes if you have any of the common risk factors. [7]

Prediabetes risk factors include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Being 45 years or older
  • Having a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes
  • Being African American, Hispanic American, Asian American, Native American, or Pacific Islander

Additional risk factors for women are if you had gestational diabetes, gave birth to a baby over 9 lb., or have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Don’t Wait for Symptoms of Prediabetes

Only 1 in 10 people with prediabetes know they have it. Reasons may be because they do not have symptoms or do not get diagnosed with it. Since being diagnosed with prediabetes can motivate you to make healthy changes to prevent diabetes, you should learn your risk factors and act if you have one or more.

Do you match any of the signs and symptoms above?

Don’t wait for prediabetes to become diabetes. Let Lark Health help you develop healthy habits and lose weight, so you can focus on what really matters – living your life. Take Lark’s 1 minute quiz to check your symptoms, and you could be eligible for a free Fitbit and SmartScale.

From Prediabetes to Diabetes

Having prediabetes puts you at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. As you might expect, prediabetes is a condition with higher blood sugar, or blood glucose, than normal, but lower levels than in diabetes. It happens as your body develops insulin resistance and is less able to regulate blood sugar levels properly. Every year, 5 to 10% of people with prediabetes develop diabetes. [3]

So what are prediabetes and diabetes? When you are healthy, your body breaks down carbohydrates from food and turns them into glucose (a type of sugar) that goes into your blood. As your blood sugar (blood glucose) levels increase, a type of cells in your pancreas secrete a hormone called insulin. Insulin helps your fat, muscle, and liver cells to take up glucose from your bloodstream.

This is how prediabetes and diabetes develop:

  • Your cells become less insulin sensitive, or more resistant to the effects of insulin.
  • This means your body requires more insulin to remove the sugar from your blood.
  • At some point, your insulin supply cannot keep up with demand, and your blood sugar levels rise.

This is known as insulin resistance. The progression can take years or decades, but you can stop or slow the progression if you make healthy changes such as losing weight, exercising more and planning a healthier diet. Lark can help you plan your 2020 diet here.

Diabetes Prevention Program

The Fully CDC-Recognized DPP is focused on the lifestyle changes that can reduce or eliminate symptoms of prediabetes. It is designed to help people with prediabetes lose weight, eat better and increase physical activity.

Compared to a control group, the participants who were in the DPP group had a 58% lower chance of developing diabetes, and this number was 71% lower among people who were 60 years or older!

Lark DPP is an alternative to these meetings. Lark DPP provides the same curriculum, and has some advantages.

Prediabetes symptoms are a sign that your body is asking for help. Even without symptoms of prediabetes, you may have risk factors for prediabetes or diabetes, and it could be time to act. Instead of ignoring the symptoms, use your prediabetes symptoms as motivation to get healthy, and know that help is available.

Make Healthy Foods More Delicious

Everyone knows that they should eat healthy, and as someone who has made it this far with Lark DPP, you know the why and how of healthy eating better than almost anyone else. Making good choices can feel like a chore rather than a pleasure if it does not taste good, but as the Lark DPP check-in pointed out, there are ways to make healthy foods taste great. Here are a few tricks for turning great foods into delicious dishes, and for transforming delicious dishes into nutritious meals.

Superfoods into Delicious Dishes


What can you do about those foods you know you should eat, but do not really like or do not know how to prepare them? In most cases, it is pretty simple to make a delicious dish out of almost anything. The Lark DPP check-in suggested getting more vegetables by eating spaghetti squash, and making it interesting by adding sauce and herbs, and by spicing up popcorn so a whole-grain snack is tasty. Here are a few other examples of turning healthy foods into delicious healthy foods.

  • Tuna: Add avocado or plain Greek yogurt, diced celery and tomatoes, capers or olives, mustard, and thyme or rosemary to make a creamy tuna salad.
  • Beans: mix garbanzo, kidney, black, and/or other types of beans with apple cider vinegar, olive oil, green and/or wax beans, and chopped bell pepper and green onion to make four-bean salad.
  • Lentils: mix with chopped mushrooms, carrots, onion, corn, whole-grain breadcrumbs or almond meal, egg, garlic powder, and broth to make a veggie burger.
  • Olive oil: use for roasting vegetables, or mix with vinegar and herbs to make salad dressings.
  • Vegetables: roasting them with olive oil and herbs such as rosemary can keep them flavorful and not like the mushy ones many of us grew up eating. Cauliflower, brussels sprouts, onions, beets, turnips, and carrots are just a few great roasted vegetables.
  • Nuts: great when added to stir fry or vegetable dishes, or roasted with paprika or a dusting of cocoa

Turn Old Favorites into Healthy Friends


Eating well and losing weight does not mean you need to give up your favorite foods. With a few small tweaks, familiar favorites can become healthy friends for life. Strategies such as adding vegetables, swapping whole grains and lean proteins for refined grains and fatty proteins, and using lower-fat cooking methods can make the transformation. These are just a few examples.

  • Lasagna: sliced eggplant instead of lasagna noodles, extra spinach or other vegetables, ground turkey instead of beef
  • Pasta: whole-grain pasta or spiralized zucchini or carrots, tomato sauce instead of cream sauce, extra vegetables
  • Pancake breakfast: buckwheat or other whole-grain, cottage cheese for extra protein, fresh fruit instead of syrup, egg whites instead of fried egg and bacon
  • Breaded fried chicken or fish: baked skinless chicken or fish with pecan or almond meal or whole-grain breadcrumbs for a coating
  • Pie/cobbler: baked apples with cinnamon, toasted oats instead of crust
  • Beef burrito with rice: whole-grain wrap or lettuce instead of white tortilla, seasoned shredded chicken or ground turkey instead of beef, brown rice instead of white, lettuce and tomatoes
  • Burger and fries: lettuce or whole-grain bun instead of white, ground turkey or veggie burger instead of beef patty, baked sweet potato or zucchini sticks instead of fried potatoes, mustard instead of mayo or butter on the bun.
  • Pizza: whole-grain pita, English muffin, or other crust, light cheese, extra sauce, veggie toppings, and grilled chicken or meatless sausage instead of fatty meats, or (if ordering) thin crust with extra sauce, light cheese, veggie toppings, and anchovies instead of pepperoni or sausage
  • Ice cream sundae or banana split: pureed frozen ripe banana instead of ice cream, melted dark chocolate instead of chocolate syrup, fresh fruit and nuts instead of cookies, strawberry syrup, or other sugary toppings

Whatever you are craving, it is possible to make it healthier but still tasty. With some experimentation, you can learn which swaps you can make to get a meal you still love and can feel better about eating.

Healthy eating really can be delicious. Sometimes it takes several tries to acquire a taste for a certain food, sometimes it takes a few different recipes before you settle on some you like, and sometimes it takes minor substitutions to turn less-healthy dishes into foods to love. 

How Guilty Food Pleasures Can Be Part of Your Healthy Diet

Guilty pleasures…almost everyone has a few. It could be a glass of wine with dinner, bread and butter, a late-night bowl of ice cream with hot fudge topping, or a juicy steak with butter and a side of mashed potatoes and gravy. As the Lark DPP check-in pointed out, it is fine to have guilty pleasures occasionally, and sometimes there are healthier choices that do the trick just as well. These are some ways to incorporate guilty food pleasures into your regular meal plan without putting a damper on weight loss.

Being Selective


If you are going to have a guilty pleasure, you might as well make sure that it is truly a “pleasure.” While everything may sound good, there may be only one or two items that you really, really want. A great example is at an all-you-can-eat buffet, where everything looks good at first glance, but it is worth the while to scour the options before selecting a single indulgence to enjoy. The same strategy works at parties, restaurants, supermarkets, and at home: what one treat do you really, really want, and which healthy foods will you fill the rest of your plate with?

Just a Bite or Two


A small helping can often be as satisfying as a large one, and far better for your waistline since “guilty pleasures” are usually high in calories and sugar or fat. For example, two double chocolate mini muffins can have 350 fewer calories than a single large one, a miniature-sized candy bar can have 300 calories less than a large one, a cup of mac and cheese can have 500 fewer calories than a whole plateful, and the smallest order of french fries can have 300 fewer calories than the largest.

These tips can make a small amount of a guilty pleasure go a long way.

  • Take small bites and focus on the tastes and textures of each one.
  • Satisfy hunger with nutritious foods, such as vegetables and lean proteins, before savoring that small serving of a guilty pleasure.
  • Remember that tomorrow is another day, and you will have other opportunities to eat that treat, so there is no need to wolf it down or eat huge quantities now.
  • Feel proud of yourself for being able to enjoy a guilty pleasure without letting it throw you off your healthy intentions.

Defining “Occasional”


An “occasional” treat may be okay, but “occasional” can easily turn into “regular” and then “frequent” without noticing. For example, a few drinks on Friday night with friends, waffles and bacon for Sunday brunch with family, cake at birthday parties and other celebrations, a weekly order of your favorite burger when having lunch out, and Monday morning croissants at the office are each reasonable, but end up being a treat nearly every day, and together adding about 2,000 calories – about half a pound’s worth of fat – to each week. 

Planning each treat in advance, and looking at every single one altogether, can give you perspective so you can see how much you are really having.

Convenience or Craving?


A treat can be worth the calories, and even help you stick to your diet, if you really, really want it, but what if you are just eating it because it is there? If you find yourself eating high-calorie foods, such as cookies, chips, and leftovers from restaurant meals, ask yourself if you really want them, or if you are just eating them because they are the quickest items? You may be happier, and almost certainly healthier, if you prepare healthy snacks that are more convenient to grab than less-healthy ones.

  • Baby carrots, celery sticks, cucumber sticks, bell pepper strips
  • Hard-boiled eggs, sliced cooked chicken breast
  • Yogurt, cottage cheese
  • Washed fruit, such as grapes, berries, apples, tangerines, oranges, cut melon

Treats have to be part of the plan if healthy eating is going to become a long-term habit, and if pounds are going to come off and stay off. The trick is to maximize satisfaction while fitting them into a nutritious diet to lose weight and lower type 2 diabetes risk. Lark DPP can help you stay on top of your diet and keep guilty pleasures in check as you continue to learn what works for you.

Tweak Your Plate for Easier Weight Loss

As you continue to make your way through Lark DPP and build your weight loss expertise, you may have learned quite a bit about creating healthy meals for losing weight and lowering risk for type 2 diabetes. The magic formula, which includes nutritious foods and sensible portions, need not be too hard to concoct. 

Whether cooking for yourself or ordering at a restaurant, the following plate makeovers can give you practice in spotting places on the plate where there may be room for improvement. This can help you quickly and easily make any meal a little more nutritious and better for weight loss. 

The approximate calorie savings for each meal are provided, and additional benefits of the swaps include more protein, less unhealthy fat, fewer grams of starches and sugar, and more fiber, vegetables, fruit, and/or whole grains. In short, these meals can help with weight loss and blood sugar control.

Plate 1: Fish Dinner with Rice and Vegetables


Original Dinner: 6-ounce piece of breaded, fried fish, 1.5 cups of rice, ¼ cup zucchini

Overhauled Dinner: 4-ounces of salmon, ½ cup of brown rice, 1 cup of zucchini

Approximate Calorie Difference: 400 calories

The differences: 

  • The Overhauled has a smaller portion of protein, since a serving is only 3 to 4 ounces. That amount has about 24 to 32 grams of protein, and your body can only benefit from about 20 to 30 at one sitting. 
  • The Overhauled has a single serving of rice, instead of 3 servings in the Original.
  • The Overhauled has a full cup of vegetables, which is a good goal for most meals.
  • The Overhauled has some healthier swaps, with carb-free baked fish instead of breaded and fried fish and whole-grain brown rice instead of refined white rice.

Plate 2: Sandwich Sack Lunch


Original Sack Lunch: Sub sandwich with salami, pepperoni, cheese, and mayo; potato chips; and a cookie.

Overhauled Sack Lunch: Sandwich on whole grain bread with chicken breast, cheese, mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and/or sprouts; 1 cup of baked kale chips; an orange

Approximate Calorie Difference: 500 calories

The differences: 

  • The Original has no vegetables, while the Overhauled has a full cup.
  • The Overhauled has fruit and whole grains, while the carbs in the Original are from refined white bread, starchy fried potatoes, and a sugary cookie.
  • The Original has processed fatty meat (hello, calories, fat, and cancer-causing chemicals!), while the Overhauled has lean chicken breast. Tuna is another good choice. Deli turkey breast is lean and high-protein, but all-natural, low-sodium varieties are best.
  • The Overhauled has mustard instead of fatty mayo.

Plate 3: Fried Chicken and a Biscuit with Mashed Potatoes


Original Chicken Dinner: Fried chicken; mashed potatoes made with butter; biscuit; sweet tea

Overhauled Chicken Dinner: Baked skinless “fried chicken;” smashed cauliflower; whole-grain dinner roll; unsweetened ice tea.

Approximate Calorie Difference: 500 calories

The differences:

  • The Overhauled has skinless chicken with whole-grain or low-carb breading (try whole-grain breadcrumbs, crushed bran cereal, or almond meal), and the chicken is baked instead of fried, as in the Original.
  • The Overhauled has fewer carbs due to smashed cauliflower made with milk instead of potatoes made with butter, and it has a full serving of vegetables. Turnips, carrots, and acorn squash are also nice substitutes for potatoes.
  • The Overhauled has a whole-grain, higher-fiber, lower-fat roll compared to the Original’s fatty biscuit with refined white flour.
  • The Original has tons of sugar from sweet tea, while the Overhauled has none.

Plate 4: Loaded Baked Potato with Chili


Original Potato and Chili: Baked Russet potato with sour cream, cheese, and bacon; beef chili

Overhauled Potato and Chili: Baked sweet potato with non-fat plain yogurt, low-fat cheese, and broccoli florets; vegetarian chili (or ground turkey) made with beans and extra tomatoes and bell peppers

Approximate Calorie Difference: 300

The differences:

  • The Overhauled is richer in antioxidants and vegetables from the sweet potato, broccoli, tomatoes, bell peppers, and beans.
  • The Original has red meat and a load of saturated fat from the bacon, sour cream, and beef, while the protein in the Overhauled is lean.
  • The Overhauled may be more filling and satisfying for longer since it has more fiber and does not have white potatoes, which spike blood sugar and later let it drop.

Plate 5: PB&J Sandwich 


Original PB&J: 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and 2 tablespoons of jam or jelly on white bread; 2 ounces of crackers; 1 small box of raisins

Overhauled PB&J: 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and ½ cup of berries in a whole-grain pita pocket; 1 cup baby carrots; 1 hard-boiled egg

Approximate Calorie Difference: 200 calories

The differences:

  • The Overhauled may not save that many calories, but it can help keep you fuller for longer than the Original because it has more protein and fiber from the bread, egg, carrots, and berries, and less sugar and refined starch from the crackers, jam, bread, and raisins.
  • The Original may have a serving of fruit from the raisins, but the berries in the Overhauled have less sugar, more fiber, and fewer calories than the raisins.
  • Both have healthy fat and protein from peanut butter, but the Overhauled also has more protein, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains.

Plate 6: Cobb Salad


Original Cobb Salad: Crispy chicken, bacon, cheese, hard-boiled egg, avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, croutons, and creamy dressing.

Overhauled Cobb Salad: Grilled chicken, turkey bacon, low-fat cheese, hard-boiled egg white, lettuce, tomatoes, and fat-free dressing.

Approximate Calorie Difference: 500 calories

The differences:

  • The Overhauled has leaner proteins and reduced-fat cheese.
  • The Original has more calories and fat from the dressing than the Overhauled.
  • The Overhauled is lower in carbs because the chicken has no breading and there are no croutons.

Plate 7: Beef and Rice Bowl


Original Teriyaki Bowl: Teriyaki beef and white rice bowl.

Overhauled Teriyaki Bowl: Half-sized vegetable and brown rice bowl with an “extra” order of teriyaki chicken.

Approximate Calorie Difference: 400 calories

The differences:

  • The Original has a mound of starchy, blood sugar-spiking white rice, while the Overhauled is much lower in carbs and has whole-grain brown rice.
  • The Overhauled has a serving of vegetables.
  • The Original has red meat, possibly fatty, while chicken is a lean protein. Get bonus points, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, for ordering salmon instead, or try tofu for a plant-based protein option.
  • An “extra” or “side” order of chicken may be smaller than the portion you might receive if you ordered a chicken bowl.

You do not need to make every healthy choice every time, but a few healthy swaps here and there can really add up. You really can lose weight and lower blood sugar with healthy habits and delicious food that works for your lifestyle.

Why You May Be Eating When You Are Not Hungry – And How and Why to Stop It

Have you ever found yourself eating and wondering why you are eating it? Chances are, it is not always because you are hungry. 

The Lark DPP check-in suggested asking yourself, every so often, “Why am I eating this?” Here is why the answer to that simple question is so important and how you can use it to your advantage for weight loss and diabetes prevention.

Why Should You Eat Only When You Are Hungry?


The obvious assumption is that people eat because they are hungry, but that is not always the case. Get in the habit of asking yourself why you are eating, and you may be surprised how often that is not the reason why you are eating. 

Eating for other reasons every so often is not a problem, but it can become one if it becomes regular. That is because your body is smart. Hunger is a sign that your body wants and (before things get complicated) needs food. Eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full is a way to eat the “right” amount of food. 

Eating when you are not hungry leads to eating more than your body needs. That is a recipe for weight gain, and all that comes with it, such as having less energy, and higher blood sugar and diabetes risk. If you tend to eat for reasons other than hunger, getting away from that habit can let you lose weight more easily.

Why People May Eat Aside from Being Hungry


There are many reasons why people might eat when they are not hungry. Here are a few common ones.

Stress or Other Emotional Eating

A bad day at work, feeling too busy, a fight with a friend, worrying about money…all these are common triggers for stress or emotional eating. Many people turn to food when confused, stressed, sad, or angry. Food really can relieve those feelings, but only momentarily. Afterwards, the feelings come back, and problems have not been solved. The only thing that has really changed is that now there is a lot of unneeded food, usually sugary, starchy, and/or fatty high-calorie food, inside of you.

Boredom

Some people eat just because it is something to do. They may be home alone without chores to do, at work in front of a screen without much interesting work to complete, or anywhere else that is not stimulating. Snacking on ready-to-eat foods, preparing and eating meal or snack, and going out to eat for lack of anything to do can certainly relieve boredom, but there must be a better way!

Habit

External cues can lead to eating out of habit. For example, a break at work could trigger munching a bag of cookies, sitting down to check email may be paired with sipping a bottle of soda, and – a common one – watching TV can be paired with chips and dips.

Temptation

Sometimes, food just tastes good. Often, temptation puts itself right in your face. There may be leftovers in the fridge, fresh-baked goods in a meeting, a drive-through on your route, or candy on the receptionist’s desk.  You may not have been thinking about food before you saw it, but suddenly, you want it.

There may be times when you crave a specific food that is not within reach; for example, it could be a pizza that you would need to order, or mac and cheese that you would need to cook. It can take effort to resist those temptations, too, but it is easier than if the pizza is on the counter or the mac and cheese is in the fridge. For that reason, it is a good idea to keep as few less-healthy foods on hand as possible.

Alternatives to Eating


If you are not hungry, eating is not the solution. After figuring out why you are eating, the trick is to find a solution that addresses that reason. Examples of alternatives to eating include the following.

  • Pinpoint your sources of stress or other emotions and brainstorm what you can do about them.
  • Phone a friend or family member if you are lonely while at home, or go visit them or invite them over if they are close by.
  • Find something to do, such as blogging, surfing the net, sewing, scrapbooking, knitting, gardening, walking, or singing. 
  • Take up a new hobby or join a club, gym, or sports team so you have something to do and meet people.
  • Avoiding tempting food, such as by taking a different route in the car, not walking by the break room or receptionist’s desk, sitting far from the food table at meetings, and placing leftovers in closed containers at the back of the fridge so you do not accidentally see them.
  • Have low-calorie foods available so you can eat them instead of higher-calorie foods when you have the desire to munch.

What If You Are Always Hungry?


If you always seem to be eating because you always seem to be hungry, there are some strategies to reduce hunger.

  • Eat more low-calorie foods, such as vegetables, so you can fill up without getting more calories than you need.
  • Focus on fiber and protein, which are filling nutrients that stave off hunger for longer. High-fiber foods include vegetables, fruit, whole grains, while nutritious sources of protein include fish, eggs, chicken, and tofu and other soy products. Beans and nuts have both protein and fiber.
  • Limit foods high in refined sugars and starches, since they can lead to hunger sooner.
  • Get enough sleep, since sleep deprivation can lead to increased hunger.
  • Ask your doctor if you might have low blood sugar.

It takes a lot of practice to get into the habit of asking why you are reaching for food. With bits of advice, reminders, and motivation, along with logging and tracking features, Lark DPP can help you build this and other health habits that can assist with weight loss and lower risk for type 2 diabetes. Small steps can lead to big gains that can last a lifetime.

Eight Tips for Fighting Hangry Feelings

Feeling “hangry,” or anger due to being hungry, can lead to some serious consequences. You may have known this for years, but researchers are just starting to recognize the possible effects of being “hangry.” It turns out the drawbacks of being “hangry” can be further-reaching than simply feeling uncomfortable. 

People who are hangry regularly snap at their significant others, swear out loud or under their breath, blow up at their children for minor offenses, argue with coworkers, and are rude on the phone. They even fight over – what else? – food, with recent examples being fights at buffets and attacks on fast food workers.

Feeling hangry is also a possible health hazard. It may be a sign of low blood sugar and less-than-perfect dietary choices, which are not ideal if you have prediabetes. The Lark DPP check-in had a few tips, and the following additional tips can also help fight hangry feelings and improve health, too.

1. Know the signs


The sooner you see signs of feeling hangry, the faster you can act, and the less damage there may be. Because of the relationship to low blood sugar, early warning signs may include shakiness, fatigue, and short-temperedness. You may also find it unreasonably difficult to start or complete what should be manageable tasks.

2. Be prepared


Having the treatment available can help you stop feeling hangry faster. People with diabetes who may have dangerously low blood sugar may need fast-acting carbohydrates, such as juice or candy, to get their blood sugar back to safe levels as fast as possible. However, if you have prediabetes and being hangry is the result of hunger, a snack with high-fiber carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fat can be best at satisfying hunger and preventing it from returning quickly. Examples include apple slices with peanut butter, bell pepper strips with hummus, cottage cheese with sunflower seeds and berries, and fat-free refried beans and avocado slices.

3. Prevent it


How better to beat hangry feelings than to prevent them? Some strategies for fighting sudden and sneaky hunger include eating regular meals and snacks without skipping meals, and choosing filling foods. Fiber, such as from vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and fruit, and protein, such as from fish, chicken, eggs, tofu, beans, yogurt, and cheese, are filling nutrients.

4. Have a back-up plan


Stashed snacks can save the day at times when hangry feelings show up unexpectedly. Shelf-stable foods that can save the day include peanuts and nuts, tuna or salmon in pouches or in a can with an easy-open lid, packets of oatmeal, soy nuts or dried soybeans, unsweetened whole-grain cereal, low-sodium turkey or soy jerky, and brown rice cakes.

5. Check tomorrow’s schedule


Know what appointments and other events you have coming up so you can plan when and what you are going to eat.

6. Ask for help


If you have a habit of feeling hangry around other people, ask them to be on the lookout for warning signs that it is time to eat. A partner or coworker who knows you well can detect if you are being extra sensitive or very slow, and can suggest that you have a snack.

7. Limit sugary foods


What goes up must come down, and that is what happens with blood sugar. Sugary foods and beverages can spike blood sugar levels, leading to a temporary burst of energy, but the benefits are short-lived. The blood sugar crash comes next, and with it come feelings of shakiness, lethargy, crankiness. That is, you may get hangry. Sugary culprits to limit throughout the day include desserts, candy, baked goods, sugar-sweetened cereals and flavored oatmeal and yogurt, and sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit punch, lemonade, and sweetened coffee and tea beverages.

8. Stay hydrated


Sometimes, all it takes to stave off feelings of being hangry is water. Staying hydrated can reduce hunger, while mild dehydration can lead to fuzzy thinking, lack of focus, muscle weakness, and quick tempers. Water, decaffeinated black coffee and unsweetened tea, and other calorie-free and low-calorie beverages are best.

Keeping up with healthy meals and snacks, staying hydrated, and being prepared to recognize and treat hunger can all help prevent feelings of being hangry from getting in the way of productivity and personal relationships. Lark DPP can remind you to eat healthy, suggest nutritious foods for meals and snacks, and keep you focused on health and weight loss to lower risk for type 2 diabetes as you keep hanger away.

Love the Healthy Choices (And Lose More Weight)

What you eat is one of the biggest influences on your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and eating right when you have prediabetes can lower blood sugar and prevent or delay diabetes. Since the goal is to control weight and get the right balance of nutrients for life, it can help to figure out how to make the right choices the easy ones, just as the Lark DPP check-in mentioned. 

Here are some tips for getting more of the nutritious foods you need for weight loss and blood sugar control, and how you can learn to love wholesome foods even more.

Making Healthy Foods the Default Option


Can you think back to a recent time when you may have chosen a less-healthy option, for example, chips or cookies for a snack, or macaroni and cheese from the pantry or a burger and fries from the drive-through? What led to that choice?

It could have been that you really wanted that exact food, but there may have been another factor: convenience. Think back again to that less-healthy choice. How easy was it to get? Chances are, it was quite easy. The cookies may have been on the counter or at the front of the pantry, the chips may have been in the vending machine, the mac and cheese may have been the quickest at-home dinner option, and a burger and fries may have been a few minutes away from work.

Making healthy choices more readily available than the less-healthy ones can turn your diet around. What would happen if you walked into the kitchen for a snack and the first items you saw were fresh fruit on the counter, hard-boiled eggs and baby carrots when you opened the fridge, and nuts and unsweetened shredded wheat when you opened the pantry? Or what if all you had to do was heat up some chicken chili when you got home from work, or open your lunch bag to enjoy a tuna sandwich with lettuce and tomato on whole-wheat? Chances are, you would wind up with a healthier snack or meal than mac and cheese or cookies. The point is to put healthy foods within reach.

Get More Pleasure from Healthy Foods


Eating is about pleasure, too, especially when we are talking about a long-term lifestyle and not a short-term crash diet. There are plenty of ways to learn to love healthy foods even more than you might already.

  • Try a few times. It can take several tries to acquire a taste for certain foods, so give yourself several chances. Just like a parent might offer a new food 15 or 20 times to a toddler before she will accept it, you may need to taste a new food 15 or 20 times before you develop a liking for it.
  • Get it ready. When your next healthy food is ready to be eaten, it is more likely to find its way to your mouth than if you start to scrounge around after you get hungry. That can mean making breakfast the night before, packing a healthy lunch instead of going out to eat, freezing casseroles and other healthy dishes on the weekends and thawing them in the fridge so that they are ready to be heated for dinner after you get home from work, and always having a variety of healthy snacks, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, yogurt, nuts, and hard-boiled eggs, ready to go.
  • Make small substitutions or additions. It can be unpalatable to overhaul your diet in one fell swoop, but nearly unnoticeable to make small changes. For example, by substituting half the flour for whole-grain flour, cutting the sugar by one-third, and using half yogurt and half oil instead of butter in baking recipes, calories and fat will be cut while fiber and whole grains will increase.
  • Make it positive. Thinking about what you can add to your diet instead of thinking about what you cannot have makes it more exciting, and less of a chore. For example, why not get excited about parmesan and pecan-crusted tilapia followed by a frozen banana dipped in dark chocolate, and not get upset about skipping fried fish sticks and chocolate ice cream? Similarly, it can be fun to try new vegetables, add more fruit dishes for dessert, and use herbs and spices to make lean proteins flavorful.
  • Know the goals. If you do not know what “healthy” is, it will be hard to make healthy choices and prepare them ahead of time. Generally, lean proteins and vegetables are always good choices. Whole grains and fruit add fiber, while beans and nuts add fiber and protein. Healthy fats in moderation can also help with weight control and blood sugar. 
  • Change the proportions. There is no need to cut out all low-nutrient foods all at once. Having less of them, while having more higher-nutrient foods, can make a big difference. For example, taking smaller portions of stuffing and potatoes, while having more turkey and roasted green beans, or having half as much granola and twice as much fresh fruit, both cut calories and increase fiber and other nutrients.

Healthy Choices All Day


How can you put those good intentions in play? These are some suggestions for healthier alternatives all day. Generally, the alternatives are lower in calories, higher in protein and fiber, and lower in sugar, refined starch, and/or unhealthy fats.

Breakfast

Instead of… Try…
Plain bagel with cream cheese and orange juice
Whole-grain mini bagel with non-fat cream cheese and an orange
White bread toast with butter and jam
Whole-grain toast with peanut butter and fruit
Flavored oatmeal made with milk
Regular oatmeal made with water, plus cinnamon, diced apple, and cottage cheese
Granola with milk
Unsweetened bran flakes with yogurt and cut fruit
Bacon or sausage and egg on croissant, bagel, or biscuit
Turkey or meatless bacon or sausage and egg white on English muffin
Pancakes or waffles with butter and syrup
Buckwheat or other whole-grain pancakes with fruit and peanut butter or nuts
Breakfast pastry, doughnut, or muffin
Peanut butter and berries on English muffin

Lunch

Instead of… Try…
Burger and fries
Veggie or turkey burger and baked sweet potato fries or carrot sticks
Fried chicken sandwich
Grilled chicken salad
Salad with crispy chicken, crispy noodles or croutons, dried fruit, and creamy dressing
Salad with grilled chicken or garbanzo beans, fresh fruit, sliced almonds, and vinaigrette or olive oil and vinegar
Going out
Leftovers
Cream soup, cheese soup, or chowder
Chicken noodle or vegetable soup
Prepared salad or coleslaw with mayonnaise
Prepared salad or coleslaw with yogurt
Meat pizza
Pizza on whole-grain pita or English muffin with low-fat cheese, vegetables, and anchovies or chicken

Dinner

Instead of… Try…
Fried chicken or fish
Baked skinless chicken or fish
Pasta with cream-based sauce
Whole-grain pasta or spiralized zucchini (zoodles) with tomato sauce
Meat lasagna
Lasagna with eggplant or zucchini slices as noodles, ground turkey or soy protein, and vegetables
Pork fajitas on flour tortillas with sour cream
Tofu, fish or chicken fajitas in lettuce wraps with avocado and yogurt
Steak and mashed potatoes
Chicken and pureed cauliflower

Snacks and Desserts

Instead of… Try…
Potato or tortilla chips or pretzels
Air-popped popcorn
Ice cream
Pureed frozen banana
Pie
Fruit
Flavored yogurt
Plain yogurt with fruit
Chips or crackers with creamy dip
Raw vegetables with hummus or peanut butter
Granola bar
String cheese and ½ apple

It may take some effort, in the beginning to get those healthy foods prepared, to gain a taste for them, and to make sure they are more readily available than higher-calorie, less-nutritious fare, but help is available. Lark DPP is there for reminders, educational chats and insights, food logging, and more as you build healthy habits that can last a lifetime as you lose weight and control blood sugar.

You Can Make Healthy Carbohydrate Choices!

Be proud of yourself for getting through the “All About Carbs” Mission in Lark DPP! Those check-ins told you just about everything you need to know about choosing nutritious carbs and keeping serving sizes optimal for weight loss and health. It is a lot of information to digest, so here is a quick review.

Right Types


Sugars and starches are types of carbohydrates that add calories and bump up blood sugar, while fiber is a type of carbohydrate that does not contribute calories and that stabilizes blood sugar. When choosing carbohydrate foods, looking for more fiber and less sugar and starch can lead you to the best choices.

Often: High-Fiber Foods Less Often: Sugary and Starchy Low-Fiber or Low-Nutrient Foods
  • Beans, lentils, and split peas
  • Whole grains, such as oats, brown rice, quinoa, and bulgur
  • Whole-grain products, such as whole-grain pasta, bread, popcorn, and breakfast cereal
  • Winter squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, corn, and peas
  • Fresh fruit and unsweetened frozen fruit
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks, and coffee beverages
  • Candy, cake, cookies, pies, custard, and other sweets
  • Refined grain products such as white bread, pasta, and rice
  • Sugar-sweetened breakfast cereals and flavored oatmeal and yogurt
  • French fries, potato chips, and tortilla chips
  • Doughnuts and other fried starchy foods
  • Breaded, fried foods such as fried chicken and fish and battered mushrooms and onion rings
  • Fruit juice, canned fruit in syrup, and dried fruit

Non-starchy vegetables are low in carbohydrates and calories, and high in fiber. They are welcome at any meal or snack!

Right Amounts


Having the right amount of carbs at meals and snacks can help stabilize blood sugar, which helps with weight loss, keeps energy even, and reduces carbohydrate cravings. The “right amount” varies by the person, with bigger, more active males generally needing more carbs than smaller, less active females, but a good rule of thumb is to have 30 to 45 or even 60 grams of carbs at each meal and 15 to 30 grams at snacks.

Thinking of carb foods in terms of 15-gram increments lets you hit those numbers without going crazy counting carbs. That way, you can just have 2 to 3 or 4 15-gram servings of carbs for meals, and 1 to 2 15-gram servings at snacks.

Each of these have about 15 grams of carbs.

  • 1 slice of bread, ½ English muffin, ½ tortilla, small dinner roll
  • 1 small piece of fruit, 1 cup of melon or strawberries, ¾ cup of blueberries
  • ⅓ cup of cooked rice
  • ½ cup of cooked pasta, bulgur, barley, quinoa, corn, or peas
  • 1 small baked potato or sweet potato

Balanced Meals


Once you know which carbs and how much, how do you get a balanced meal on your plate? Starting with veggies, choosing your carbs, and adding some lean protein and a bit of healthy fat can give you a sure winner every time. Here are just a few examples…

  • Egg whites with spinach, feta cheese, and oregano served with cooked sweet potato slices
  • Turkey sandwich on a whole-grain English muffin with avocado, lettuce, tomato, and 
  • Tuna salad made with plain yogurt instead of mayo, served on top of a greens-based salad and with whole-grain crackers on the side.
  • Grilled chicken with a salad with spinach, raspberries, and cooked barley.
  • Four-bean salad, made with olive oil, spices, and vinegar, and a piece of fruit.

As Lark DPP check-in suggested, starting with hard-core starches and sugary foods may not leave much room on your plate – or in your belly – for more filling, lower-calorie vegetables that should be the biggest component of a healthy diet. Instead, serving the vegetables first, then adding smaller amounts of other foods, can ensure a good amount of vegetables.

Carbohydrate Serving Sizes Demystified

High-carbohydrate foods such as French fries, chocolate cake, and white rice may not be the best choices for preventing prediabetes or losing weight, but including nutritious carbs choices can have the opposite effect, as foods such as whole grains, fruit, certain starchy vegetables, and beans may lower risk for obesity, diabetes, and/or other conditions.

As with any other part of your diet, though, it is not just about the “what” you eat, but also about the “how much.” Though some proper portions of carbs make sense, intuition and habit can also steer you wrong. As the Lark DPP check-in mentioned, carb servings can be smaller than you might expect.

Right Size


A “serving” of carbohydrates is the amount of the food that gives you 15 grams of carbohydrates. That turns out to be any of the following.

  • A slice of bread or a half of an English muffin.
  • ⅓ cup of rice.
  • ½ cup of cooked pasta or oatmeal.
  • 1 small apple, 2 small tangerines, 1 small banana, 1 cup of strawberries, ¾ cup of blueberries, 1 cup of cut melon.
  • 3 cups of popped popcorn.
  • ½ cup of cooked beans, corn, or mashed sweet potato.

Before you start to panic, or wonder if you will ever be able to have a close-faced sandwich with 2 slices of bread again, here is more information: a good amount for a meal is 2 to 3 servings of carbs.

Exploded Portions


When talking about smart serving sizes, a good piece of advice is not to depend on what you are served or on habit In recent years, portion sizes have exploded in restaurants, packaged foods, and, finally, in many homes. Now, it is common for restaurants and cafes to serve…

  • Plates of pasta with 120 grams of carbohydrates.
  • Bagels and muffins with 60 grams of carbs.
  • Smoothies with 100 grams of carbs.
  • Ice cream with 70 grams of carbs.
  • Salads with 70 grams of carbs.

Restaurants are not the only culprits. Packaged foods can be misleading, with a frozen burrito, “snack-sized” bag of chips from a vending machine, or frozen dinner having more than three servings of carbs.

Help with Portions


If you cannot trust your server or your intuition to lead you to the right serving sizes, where can you go for help? Plenty of help is available, actually! Here are three sources.

  • Food labels are there for you on any packaged food. Check the serving size, the number servings per package, and the number of carbs per serving can be enlightening, shocking, and, well, healthy. Who knew that toaster pastries have 2 servings of carbohydrates each, and the entire 2-pastry package has 4 servings?! Knowing that can give you the freedom to eat just one, and maybe add a healthier partner such as peanut butter or cottage cheese, instead of eating both.
  • The internet is a great source for nutrition information from chain restaurants. Checking beforehand can let you discover that a beef burrito with a side of rice has 6 servings of carbs, an order of sweet and sour chicken with rice can have 8 servings, and a plate of eggplant parmigiana can have 7 servings.
  • Lark DPP is a tool that can increase awareness of portion sizes and guide you in making good choices.

Real Meals with Healthy Carbs


If carbohydrate foods have 15 grams of carbohydrates per serving, and you might have multiple high-carb foods in a single meal, and a good goal is 1 to 2 servings per snack or 2 to 3 for a meal, how does all this fit into practice? 

Do not worry! It is not rocket science. Here are some examples of meals with a smart amount of healthy carbs

  • Open-faced sandwich on half of a whole-grain bagel with non-fat cream cheese, walnuts, and blueberries.
  • 1 cup oatmeal with peanut butter and ½ sliced banana.
  • Pizza on 2 whole-grain English muffin halves, with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and chopped vegetables.
  • Chicken, shrimp, or tofu fajitas on small whole-wheat tortilla with salsa and avocado.
  • Tuna on a green salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, ½ cup of corn, and light dressing, plus 1 cup of fruit salad with ½ oz. of nuts.
  • ¾ cup whole-grain cereal and ½ cup sliced strawberries mixed into ½ cup cottage cheese.
  • Bowl with ½ cup beans, ½ cup corn, 3 oz. shredded chicken, and roasted eggplant, zucchini, and/or bell pepper.
  • Turkey or veggie burger and mushrooms on ½ whole-grain bun with ½ cup of baked sweet potato fries.

Healthy eating to lower diabetes risk can include nutritious carbs as long as they are in the right proportions. Lark DPP and nutrition facts panels can help you make smart choices to keep carbs in check while getting their benefits.

Moderate Carbs for Maximum Health

By now, after so much time with Lark DPP, you may be almost an expert at nutrition for prediabetes. There have been a lot of messages about weight loss strategies and choosing healthy foods to lower diabetes risk

Carbohydrates have been in the spotlight, too. Having too many can be bad for weight loss and blood sugar, but there is no reason to avoid them entirely, as the Lark DPP check-in talked about. The trick is to have the right ones in the right amounts and with the right foods – and it is not that difficult to do so!

Healthy Carbs, Healthy You


Sugars and starches are types of carbohydrates that add calories to your diet and increase your blood sugar. They are in many healthy and many less-healthy foods. You do not need a lot of carbs to survive, but having a moderate amount from nutritious foods can have health benefits.

Less-nutritious high-carb foods to limit include sugar-sweetened beverages, refined white bread, pasta, and rice, sweets such as candy, cake, cookies, ice cream, and muffins, and sugar-sweetened foods such as flavored oatmeal, sugary cereals, flavored yogurt, and tomato soup.

There are no guarantees in life, but eating the following high-carb foods in place of less-nutritious high-carb foods or in place of unhealthy fats can lower risk for obesity, diabetes, or other conditions.

  • Whole grains, such as whole grain bread, pasta, and cereal, oatmeal, brown rice, sorghum, popcorn, farro, quinoa, and bulgur.
  • Beans, split peas, and lentils.
  • Fruit, such as berries, oranges, apples, pears, cantaloupe, watermelon, and grapes.
  • Plain yogurt, cottage cheese, and reduced-fat milk.
  • Starchy vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and winter squash.

How you prepare the food matters, too. Apples made into sugary apple pie, sweet potatoes baked with marshmallows, buttered popcorn, and buttery mashed potatoes, for example, are far less healthy than their plain counterparts.

Fractions on Your Plate


An easy way to get a good amount of carbs and help yourself to a balanced meal is to use fractions on your plate. The Lark DPP check-in said that high-carb foods can make up about one-quarter of the meal. Do not worry if math is not your thing; you do not have to be a math whiz to master this lesson on fractions.

The only tool you need to get a balanced meal, no measuring required, is the plate you are going to eat from during your meal. Mentally divide it into half, and place salad greens or other raw or cooked, non-starchy vegetables, on half of the plate. Divide the remaining half of your plate into half so that each portion is one-quarter of the plate. 

Lean protein can go on one of those quarters. That may mean chicken, fish, tofu, cottage cheese, yogurt, egg whites, or lean ground turkey, for example. 

The final quarter of the plate can contain the high-carb food(s) in the meal. It could be a slice or two of whole-grain bread, a scoop of brown rice, oatmeal, or whole-grain pasta, a piece of fruit, or a small baked potato. It could also contain a combination of two or more types of high-carb foods, as long as the portion of each high-carb food is smaller.

Finally, the meal may have some healthy fat. It could be a bit of salad dressing, some oil used in cooking, a few nuts or avocado slices, or some peanut butter.

Balanced Moderate Carb Meal Examples


Sometimes it really is as easy as it sounds to have ½, ¼, and ¼ of your plate filled with vegetables, protein, and starch. Other times, it is more complicated. Protein, starches, and vegetables in mixed dishes are, well, mixed. It is not possible to divide them up on a plate when serving them. Sometimes, the meal is not even on a plate. It may be in a bowl or in a few containers in a lunch bag.

Still, the concept is the same: a lot of vegetables, and a bit of other nutritious foods. Here are a few examples of balanced meals with moderate amounts of healthy carbohydrates.

  • Baked salmon tossed with whole-grain penne pasta, olive oil, asparagus tips, and garlic and herbs.
  • Chicken stir-fried with vegetables, sesame oil, and low-sodium teriyaki sauce served with brown rice.
  • Baked sweet potato casserole with onions, spinach, tomatoes, and lean ground turkey cooked in olive oil, and Italian seasonings.
  • Egg whites with zucchini, tomatoes, and cheddar cheese with a slice of whole-grain toast.
  • Low-sodium chicken vegetable barley soup.
  • Open-faced turkey burger on half of a whole-grain bun with sauteed mushrooms, served with a side salad.
  • Peanut butter sandwich on a whole-grain English muffin, served with carrot sticks.

More and More


How often in life do you get to eat as much as you want without feeling guilty? How about every day? That is the case with non-starchy vegetables. If that half-a-plateful serving leaves you wanting more, go right ahead. Another green salad, a second helping of steamed vegetables, and a handful of raw vegetables whenever you get the munchies can fill you up without adding many calories.

Allowing yourself to eat moderate amounts of carbs can make life easier as well as healthier. Going for higher-fiber, less-processed ones and serving them with a mound of vegetables and a few other healthy foods can be the path to easy, sustainable weight loss and blood sugar control.

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