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Preventing or delaying type 2 diabetes when you have prediabetes is all about lifestyle choices: eating right, getting active, and taking care of yourself in other ways, such as getting enough sleep and using stress management techniques. You may already be making these choices or thinking about them if you are in a Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) or are thinking about joining one to manage prediabetes.
At some point, though, nearly everyone hits a snag. It can happen even when healthy choices had become habits and weight and blood sugar seemed to be under control. The lapse in great choices can lead to a stall weight loss, reductions in physical activity, or higher blood sugar, and it can be frustrating after things had been going well for a while.
Lapses can sneak up gradually and it may take a while to realize that you are in one. Once you notice, it is time to work through it. As the Lark DPP check-in suggested, identifying the problem or cause of the lapse is a first step to getting over it. Figuring out some reasons for it and working on increasing mindfulness can help you get over a lapse.
Possible Causes of Lapses
What may have changed between "then," the time when healthy choices were natural, and "now," when weight loss has plateaued or more sugary or starchy foods are creeping into your regular menus? There are some common changes in life circumstances that can affect food choices.
- Being busier. This can reduce time available to prepare food, plan meals, and exercise, so restaurant meals and skipped workouts become the norm.
- Feeling stressed. Whether from a new job, health concerns for you or a loved one, financial worries, or other causes, stress can lead to emotional eating.
- Losing motivation. Not meeting goals or seeing results, or losing sight of why you started your health journey in the first place, can lead to reduced motivation.
Feeling deprived or always feeling hungry can also lead to lapses. These are more likely to happen if you focus on what you cannot have instead of what you can ("I can't have ice cream anymore," instead of, "I get to have a frozen banana with dark chocolate"), or if you are not eating much fiber and protein in comparison to sugary or fatty foods.
Mindfulness and Its Connection to Healthy Eating
Practicing mindfulness is not a cure-all, but it is a trick for improving weight control and establishing healthier eating habits. Researchers have found that people who practice mindful eating have a better chance of getting the upper hand on binge eating and emotional eating, both of which are unhealthy practices because they can lead to weight gain and are linked to poorer mood and self-confidence.
Being mindful means being aware of what is happening while you are eating. It includes being aware of which foods you choose, how they taste and feel, what you are focusing on while you are eating, why you chose to start eating and why you are choosing to continue or stop eating, where you are eating, and what may be going on in the environment that is surrounding you.
Tips for Mindful Eating
Mindful eating has several aspects, and you can practice one or a few at a time to become a more mindful eater. These are a few tips to get you started.
- Eating slowly can give your brain a chance to feel full before you eat more than you need, since it can take about 20 minutes to feel full.
- Noticing why you eat, such as for hunger or for other reasons, such as boredom or stress or availability of food, can put you more in tune with your body's hunger and other signals.
- Savoring each bite, while enjoying the flavors and textures, can help you slow down and enjoy the meal more, both of which help you eat less and feel more satisfied.
- Logging each meal and snack, such as with Lark DPP, can help you detect patterns such as snacking more frequently than you realized or eating bigger lunches than you thought you were.
- Thinking about how you feel while you are eating and when you are finished can help steer you towards more nutritious foods and smaller portions.
Lapses can feel tough, but almost everyone goes through periods of relapse when trying to follow a healthier diet. Being mindful and identifying the root causes of the relapse can help you make an action plan to get over it. Lark DPP can be there to support and encourage you in all of your efforts to reduce risk for type 2 diabetes.