Getting the Most From Your Lark Diabetes Prevention Program

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Prediabetes treatment is usually possible with simple lifestyle changes. The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) focuses on modest weight loss and physical activity, and has been proven to lower diabetes risk by 58%. 

Built with Harvard and Stanford research and behavior change specialists, Lark is your intelligent health coach in the palm of your hand. These are some ways to get more out of your personal Lark coach to prevent diabetes.

Are you at high risk for type 2 diabetes? You may be, if you have been diagnosed with prediabetes based on higher-than-normal blood sugar levels or a prediabetic A1C, you have gotten a high-risk score on the CDC’s risk assessment, or you have other diabetes risk factors.

Taking action is important if you have prediabetes because you can usually alter its path. In most cases, you can delay or prevent diabetes. Some people even manage to reverse prediabetes and achieve normal blood sugar levels. 

 

1 . Use the app.


Lark DPP is your personal health coach. You can talk to your coach anytime, anywhere using your smartphone, and there is no limit to the amount of coaching you can get. The more you use Lark, the more benefits you get, such as more tips and advice, and increased motivation.

Because the program is powered by artificial intelligence (AI), you also get a more personalized program as Lark gets to know you better. That can mean:

  • More relevant suggestions based on what you normally eat or when you normally exercise.

  • Better-timed notifications such as reminders to log meals.

  • Recognition of when you deviate from normal patterns, such as getting more sleep or avoiding fried foods.

These are ways to use your app more fully.

  • Fill out as much information as possible in your account profile, including your height, weight, and age.

  • Allow Lark to access your phone’s data to be able to count your activity automatically.

  • Enable notifications from Lark. You may need to do this from the “settings” app on your phone.

Finally...use the app! Go into the app at least once a day and chat with Lark. Make sure your sleep and activity data are accurate, and log as many of your meals and snacks as you can. When you have the opportunity to tap on links for more information, do it. Open the app when you have something to tell Lark. Stay engaged! 

 

2. Lose more weight.


Weight loss is a major part of the DPP. The more extra weight you lose, the lower your risk for diabetes. Still, don’t get too anxious about losing a ton of weight. You can get benefits from losing a little, and more benefits from losing a lot. Did you know that if you are obese and have type 2 diabetes…?

  • Every kilogram (2.2 lb.) of body weight that you lose can lower diabetes risk by 16%.

  • Achieving 5 to 7% loss of body weight can help lower diabetes risk by over 50%.

  • Hitting a “normal” BMI of under 25 kg/m2 can cut diabetes risk by two-thirds compared to having a BMI of 30-34.9 kg/m2. 

Lark DPP can help you choose the best prediabetes diet to lose weight in a healthy way.

 

Set your weight loss goal.

Your body mass index (BMI) considers your height and weight to estimate whether your weight is “normal,” “overweight,” or “obese.” You can calculate your body mass index (BMI) using this calculator. 

Knowing your BMI can help you decide on a goal weight. Your Lark coach may have a helpful tip or two, also!

You can set your goal weight when you start using Lark or go into the settings at any time to set or change your weight loss goal. When you set your goal, Lark can track your progress and give you more personalized coaching.

 

Eat more of some foods…

Portion control is important in weight loss, but it is not always about eating less! If you are the type who loves to eat, you can focus on eating more of the weight loss foods such as vegetables, lean protein, and fruit. You might want to try...

  • Huge salads with tons of lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and other raw vegetables. Go easy on the dressing.

  • Broth-based soup with plenty of chunky ingredients such as vegetables and beans.

  • Steamed, grilled, and roasted vegetables.

  • Fish, egg whites, tofu, and beans.

 

...And less of others.

If you are wondering what you can limit to speed weight loss, there are certainly plenty of options. Try taking smaller portions and eating these foods less frequently.

  • Sugary foods, such as ice cream, cake, pies, and jam.

  • Fried foods, such as French fries, onion rings, and doughnuts.

  • Fast food, such as pizza, burgers, and nachos.

 

Make a few swaps.

Sometimes, simple swaps can make the weight loss difference without making you work too hard. You can swap a lower-calorie food for a higher-calorie one, or make a choice that is more filling so you are likely to eat less.

  • Water instead of soft drinks or other sugar-sweetened or caloric beverages.

  • Fresh fruit instead of ice cream or baked desserts.

  • Whole grains instead of refined.

  • Plain yogurt and oatmeal and unsweetened cereal instead of sweetened versions.

  • Avocados, olive oil, nuts, and flaxseed instead of butter, and shortening.

 

Stay engaged.

Stay engaged in your own weight loss plan to lose more weight...and let Lark help. Log your meals and snacks as soon as you eat them so you can remember what you ate and get feedback and suggestions for next time. Lark will occasionally suggest swaps you can make or better choices for next time. Weigh yourself regularly - Lark will prompt you occasionally - to see your progress.

 

3. Get more active.


While weight loss is one focus of the DPP, increasing physical activity is the other. You probably already know that exercise can help with weight control, but physical activity also combats diabetes because it increases insulin sensitivity to lower blood sugar.

 

Know your goal.

The DPP encourages you to achieve at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking, hiking, bicycling, swimming, aerobics, playing tennis, or gardening. If this is too much for you, your first goal may be less than this amount. Whatever your goal, Lark can help you track it.

 

Try it until you love it.

If you are not already familiar with the activity or activities that you love, keep trying different ones until you find some you can handle. You may need to be a little bit creative. For example…

  • You may not realize you like walking until you try it in a mall with friends or in a nature reserve by yourself.

  • Your ideal exercise may be something you’d never heard of before, such as a circus class or an obstacle course.

  • Cardio and strength training may suddenly become more exciting when you are using them to train for a sport or an event such as a rock climbing vacation.

 

Give and take with Lark.

Give Lark more information, and take more coaching from Lark. Keep your phone on you to get more accurate information using your phone’s motion sensor, and make sure you check your workouts to see that they are logged properly. Lark can let you know how your activity trends are doing and suggest ways to keep up the good work.

 

4. Take a holistic approach.


Your health is a reflection of more than just weight and exercise. The original DPP may focus on those two lifestyle changes, but Lark DPP offers coaching in other areas that affect your blood sugar and overall health and well-being.

  • Nutritious choices. For example, did you know that saturated fat can interfere with insulin’s action even though it has no carbohydrates?

  • Sleep. Even one night of sleep deprivation leads to higher blood sugar levels, so Lark helps you establish better sleep habits.

  • Stress management. Keep using Lark, and you may find yourself practicing in-the-moment stress management techniques to better approach stressful situations.

 

5. Make it a lifestyle.


The DPP may officially be a year-long program, but your healthy changes can last a lifetime if they become habits and allow for real-life situations. Instead of focusing on unrealistic resolutions - “I will never again eat fast food” - focus on small changes - “I will bring my own lunch to work instead of eating fast food an extra time each week.” You could also try:

  • Eating carrot sticks instead of potato chips with dip in the afternoon.

  • Taking the stairs to the restroom on another floor at work.

  • Parking a little further away in the parking lot.

  • Going to sleep 15 minutes earlier a couple of times a week.

 

Plan ahead.

Another way to make it a lifestyle is to plan ahead. You will need to go grocery shopping if you want to cook healthy meals, or check restaurant menus if you want to order healthy items. You are more likely to get your workout in if you schedule it into your calendar, and you will be able to go to sleep earlier in the night if you schedule your evening to finish your tasks earlier.

You can also plan ahead for the fun times that make life worth living. Life includes celebrations, restaurant meals, and special treats, and that’s okay. Enjoy them! Just plan ahead occasionally. Check the calorie counts on menus so you can order lower-calorie options, or just look for vegetables and lean protein when you can. Or, if you know you are going to have a treat, try eating a little healthier the days before and after, and maybe work out a little harder.

Lark DPP can guide you in making the healthy choices that can lower your risk for diabetes. At the same time, you can feel better, gain energy, and be more confident in your daily life. 

 
 

Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Assistant Professor of Public Health