How to Avoid Type 2 Diabetes

Chad Birt

Written by Chad Birt on Mon Jul 31 2023.

Family walking in nature.

Learning that you have high blood sugar can be worrisome. But it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re destined to develop type 2 diabetes. 

If you or your loved one have been diagnosed with high blood sugar, there are several things you can do to prevent the condition from getting worse. Below, we provide some simple suggestions sure to help keep your blood sugar in check.

What You’ll Need

You don’t need any special equipment to reduce your risk of high blood sugar. Instead, focus on healthy lifestyle changes like eating well, exercising, and limiting (or avoiding) bad habits.

Admittedly, this can take some getting used to. Try to keep a positive attitude and work with your doctor or a registered dietitian to ensure the changes you make are sustainable. 

Steps to Avoid Type 2 Diabetes

Step 1: Have Your Doctor Assess Your Blood Sugar Levels

The only way to know if you’re at risk of developing type 2 diabetes is to undergo a fasting blood sugar test or a glucose tolerance test. If you have elevated blood sugar on either of these screens, it may suggest an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

“Family history of type 2 diabetes is also a significant risk factor, especially if it involves a parent or sibling,” said Mary Sabat, MS, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian and ACE-certified trainer. 

“Other risk factors include being overweight, living a sedentary lifestyle, and belonging to certain ethnic groups (such as African-American, Hispanic, Asian, or Pacific Islander).

Step 2: Change Your Diet

If your doctor confirms that you have high blood sugar, taking steps to lower those numbers is essential. One of the easiest ways to reduce high blood sugar is to eat a healthier and more balanced diet.

“Focus on meals rich in whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats,” Sabat says. “Limit your intake of sugary foods and drinks, refined carbohydrates, and saturated fats.”

Step 3: Make Exercise Part of Your Routine

Regular exercise can be challenging if you have mobility issues, but it’s necessary to keep your blood sugar from spiking.

Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. That equates to about 21 minutes of physical activity every day, or 30 minutes of physical activity Monday through Friday. 

Exercising doesn’t need to be complicated. Do something that you enjoy, such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or dancing. 

Carewell Tip

Before starting any new exercise program, talk with your doctor. They can make recommendations that align with your abilities and current fitness level. 

Step 3: Monitor and Manage Your Weight

Being obese or above a healthy weight increases your risk of high blood sugar. Thankfully, you don’t have to lose an extreme amount of weight to see positive results.

“Even a modest weight loss of 5%-10% of your body weight can make a significant difference,” Sabat explains.

Step 4: Take Your Medication as Prescribed

Some people with high blood sugar continue to experience spikes, even after making healthy lifestyle changes. If that’s the case, your doctor may prescribe medications, like metformin to help manage your blood sugar levels. 

Metformin lowers your insulin and blood sugar levels, reducing your risk of complications like nerve damage, vision loss, and kidney damage. 

“Always follow your doctor’s advice,” Sabat says. “And take prescribed medications as directed.”

Step 5: Evaluate Lifestyle Factors like Alcohol Consumption, Tobacco Use, and Sleep

Certain lifestyle factors, like drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and using tobacco increase your type 2 diabetes risk.

“Alcohol, when consumed in excess, can contribute to weight gain and increase blood sugar levels,” Sabat said. “Smoking and tobacco use are associated with insulin resistance and in turn, diabetes.”

Likewise, lack of sleep or poor sleep may disrupt insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. Sabat recommends talking to your doctor if you have insomnia or other issues that keep you from getting quality sleep. 

Step 6: Keep Tabs on Your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels

“High blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels can increase the risk of diabetes,” Sabat said. “Regularly check these numbers and work with your healthcare provider to manage them.”

The only way to monitor your cholesterol is through regular blood tests. But an inflatable or electronic blood pressure cuff makes it easy to check your blood pressure at home.

Recommended reading: How to Check High Blood Pressure

Step 7: Try to Manage Your Stress Levels

Up to 76% of adults report negative health effects due to stress. The fast pace of modern life and the 24/7 news cycle can affect your mood and outlook. But chronic stress can also impact your blood sugar levels. 

“Find healthy ways to manage stress,” Sabat says. “Such as through exercise, relaxation techniques, or hobbies.” Seek support from friends, family, or qualified professionals, if you find yourself feeling worried or overwhelmed, 

Step 8: Visit Your Healthcare Provider for Regular Checkups

Regular check-ups with your doctor provide peace of mind and can help identify potential risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Schedule these visits at least once a year, even if you feel healthy. High blood sugar rarely presents symptoms, so you might be at risk but not know it.

If your blood work indicates a risk of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, your doctor can provide guidance on diabetes prevention measures to keep it from getting worse. 

How to Avoid Type 2 Diabetes - Commonly Asked Questions

1) If I have prediabetes am I destined to develop type 2 diabetes?

Not necessarily. Prediabetes means your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetes. 

“By making healthy lifestyle changes, such as improving your diet, increasing physical activity, and losing weight (if needed) you can prevent or delay the progression of type 2 diabetes,” Sabat explains. “Plus, regular monitoring of your blood sugar levels and regular checkups with your doctor, can help track your progress and better manage your condition.”

2) How often should I visit the doctor if I have high blood sugar?

If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood sugar, it’s crucial you visit your doctor regularly. 

“Typically, people with high blood sugar need to visit their healthcare provider every 3-6 months initially, to monitor their progress and adjust their treatment plan as needed,” Sabat said. “Once your blood sugar levels are under control, the frequency of visits may be reduced. However, it’s important to maintain regular checkups to ensure that your management plan remains effective.”

3) What if I have a sweet tooth? Are there ways to still eat sweets if I have prediabetes?

If you have high blood sugar, it’s important to limit your consumption of desserts and sugary drinks, like soda. But if you have a sweet tooth, this can seem like a punishment. 

Sabat recommends looking for healthier alternatives like sugar-free or naturally sweetened desserts. “Be sure to talk with a registered dietitian or your healthcare provider to develop a personalized meal plan that suits your specific needs,” she adds.

Have Questions About High Blood Sugar? We’re Here to Help!

Having high blood sugar can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to ruin your life. There are various things you can do to reduce blood sugar spikes and keep your blood glucose in check.

Our friendly Care Specialists regularly assist family caregivers with nutrition and product-related questions. If you need help finding sugar-free snacks or choosing a blood pressure monitor, get in touch! Call (800) 696-CARE or send an email to

We’re committed to helping you on your caregiving journey!

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Chad Birt
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.