We talk prediabetes signs, solutions and strategies with Frankfort’s Melissa Krajnik, RDN.

More than one in three Americans have prediabetes. But the majority of these people don’t even know they have it. What’s even scarier is that many prediabetes symptoms are silent, and if they’re not treated within five years, can lead to type 2 diabetes and other serious health issues such as stroke and heart disease.

But what exactly is prediabetes? “It’s a condition where blood sugars are higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes,” explains Melissa Krajnik, RDN, at Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital in Frankfort.

How do you know if you have it?

Doctors will normally run a panel of labs at your annual checkup to see if your blood sugar ranges within 100–125 and A1C between 5.7–6.4%, says Melissa. You’ll also feel weaker and thirstier than normal as it’s progressing to diabetes. Some also notice changes in their vision, which tends to be self-misdiagnosed due to aging.

Photo by Josh Hartman

While there are unchangeable risk factors involved in being diagnosed with prediabetes such as family history, ethnic backgrounds and a personal history of gestational diabetes, there are changes people can make to their lifestyles to help prevent diabetes.

“We want to make healthy food choices, increase our activity, maybe be put on diabetes medication and have friends, family and community support. With those four things put together, we can improve their blood sugar,” shares Melissa. “We can change being overweight, having high blood pressure and an inactive lifestyle.”

As for help making healthy food choices, Melissa recommends paying attention to portion sizes of our meals and benefiting from sources such as choosemyplate.gov and diabetesandmindfuleating.com. Melissa explains, “Mindful eating is going to be a great way for people to look at overeating. Why are we eating? Are we hungry? Bored? Upset? People overeat because of that.”

Another recommendation she has is losing weight to avoid needing medication, or to help get off it. “Losing 7% of your body weight, or 15 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds, should keep diabetes at bay,” she says for those who are overweight.

At Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital, monthly Lunch and Learns are hosted about diabetes and nutrition, plus monthly prediabetes community education classes on the fourth Tuesday of the month, which Melissa instructs. These classes are free and a prediabetes diagnosis isn’t required to join. Learn more by calling 231.352.2273 or visiting munsonhealthcare.org/pomh.