It starts with Halloween. The candy bowls that linger until replaced with Thanksgiving goodies that result in leftovers until you clean out that fridge to make room for the myriad winter holiday celebrations. This festive time of year centers on family, friends, fun and plenty of FOOD. For some, posting the shrugging emoji and saying, “I’ll start my diet in the new year” isn’t a big deal. But for millions of people in the U.S., staying, or getting, on a healthy path over the holidays can be extremely important.

It’s a staggering statistic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 96 million adult Americans—more than one in three—are living with prediabetes, a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

You can be prediabetic and not even know it, because there are no symptoms. However, there are clues to help you recognize potential issues. For example, look at your eating habits. According to the CDC, fewer than one in 10 children and adults eat the recommended servings of vegetables each day, while three in five Americans age 2 and older get more than 10% of their total daily calories from added sugars—far exceeding recommended limits. If you fall into one or both these categories, you could be on the road to Type 2 diabetes.

While having prediabetes doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop Type 2 diabetes, experts suggest that up to 70% of prediabetic individuals will eventually develop Type 2 diabetes within five years—if they don’t take steps now to improve health and reduce risk factors.

In recognition of Diabetes Awareness Month, Garnet Health encourages everyone to take these three steps that can begin your journey to better health.

1. Know the risk factors for diabetes

  • Weight — Being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing diabetes. Losing just 5–10% of your body weight can significantly reduce that risk, as long as it’s paired with other recommendations.
  • Age — It's never too early to make healthy changes, but Type 2 diabetes generally occurs in middle-aged adults (after age 40).
  • Genetics/family history — If you have a blood relative with diabetes, your risk is higher. Make sure your doctor knows your family history so you know how it may impact you.
  • Ethnicity — Those of African American, Asian American, Latinx, Native American or Pacific Islander descent are all at greater risk of developing diabetes.

2. Make healthy changes, starting with small steps

No matter our risk for prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes, we can all make small changes that lead to big results. Sometimes just the idea of change stops us in our tracks, but if we break things down into small bites (no pun intended!), it may be easier to get started. Consider the following: 

  • Increase physical activity. Starting a fitness regimen can seem daunting. But even walking briskly for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can result in improved health and reduce the risk of diabetes.
  • Create a meal plan, not a “diet.” This is a lifelong commitment to better health. Food is the fuel we need to be at our very best, and no one can diet forever. But you can maintain a meal plan that allows you choices and variety.
  • Get five servings of fruits and vegetables each day and eat the rainbow! Allowing ourselves the opportunity to try new fruits and veggies opens our palate to new tastes that prevent boredom and make mealtime more enjoyable.
  • Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies. Think about that. It still leaves room for your protein and starch and is an easy visual to enjoying a healthier meal.
  • Understand food labels and what you are eating. This can be tricky, even for the savviest consumer. Which brings us to step No. 3.

3. Step up to the plate and join a self-care forum on nutrition from Garnet Health

If you’ve been diagnosed as prediabetic or worry you may be at risk, make an appointment now to talk to your healthcare provider, and put yourself in control! You can make changes and possibly prevent or slow the onset of Type 2 diabetes. This free virtual event from Garnet Health can help. Together we will talk about diabetes, nutrition labels, artificial sweeteners and much more. Register at Then join us at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 17.


About Garnet Health

Garnet Health is a New York state, not-for-profit corporation headquartered in Middletown, New York, approximately 60 miles northwest of New York City. It is the corporate parent of Garnet Health Medical Center, Garnet Health Medical Center – Catskills, Garnet Health Doctors, Garnet Health Urgent Care, Garnet Health Foundation and Garnet Health Foundation – Catskills. Garnet Health is dedicated to developing specialty services, medical programs and needed healthcare services that allow residents to remain close to home to receive quality care.

Providing healthcare to approximately 450,000 residents in Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties, Garnet Health was designed to improve the quality, stability and efficiency of healthcare services in the mid-Hudson and Catskills region. Garnet Health provides services through more than 4,000 employed professionals and over 850 medical staff members. An academic affiliate of the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, Garnet Health retains compassionate professionals who continually strive toward the hospital’s mission to improve the health of our community by providing exceptional healthcare. To learn more about Garnet Health, visit

Shelly DeHaan, MPA, RD, CDCES, CDN, CDTC
By Shelly DeHaan, MPA, RD, CDCES, CDN, CDTC
Director, Dunkelman Diabetes Center and Nutrition Counseling Services

Shelly is an experienced dietitian/nutritionist, diabetes educator and lifestyle coach. She has worked in healthcare for over 30 years with patients and their families to provide a variety of services including nutrition counseling, diabetes self-management education and support, diabetes prevention, insulin pump training and management, and continuous glucose monitoring education. She is a Certified Diabetes Technology Clinician (CDTC) and expert insulin pump trainer for Medtronic, OmniPod and Tandem companies. Shelly has completed the Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management Program from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is a CDC Lifestyle Coach for the National Diabetes Prevention Program. Shelly can be reached at 845-333-2705 or

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