U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Get Real! You Don't Have to Knock Yourself Out to Prevent Diabetes

Studies show that people at high risk for type 2 diabetes can prevent or delay the disease if they lose as little as 10 to 14 pounds (if they weigh 200 pounds) by walking 30 minutes 5 days a week and making healthy food choices. Keep in mind that small steps can lead to big rewards.

Use these tips for ideas to move more and make healthy food choices.

Take your first step today!

Step 1 Move More.

Plan to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days each week to help you lose weight. You can get this amount in small ways throughout the day. If you have not been active, talk to your doctor and start slowly to build up to your goal.

Here are some ideas to fit more physical activity into your day:

  • check mark Park your car farther away from stores, movie theaters, or your office.
  • check mark Use TV breaks to stretch, take a quick walk around your home, do some sit-ups, or march in place.
  • check mark Get your friends and family involved. Set a standing walking date. Or do something that everyone enjoys—shoot hoops, take a bike ride, or line dance.
  • check mark Walk during your lunch break.
  • check mark Deliver a message to a co-worker in person instead of by email. Take the stairs to your office instead of the elevator.


Step 2 Make Healthy Food Choices.

Eat healthier. A photo of a couple preparing a salad

Choose foods that are low in fat, sugar, and calories to help you lose weight. Limit portion sizes.

Start today to:

  • check mark Eat a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits.
  • check mark Choose whole grain foods—whole wheat bread and crackers, oatmeal, brown rice, and cereals.
  • check mark Lower fat intake—broil or bake poultry, meats, and fish instead of frying.
  • check mark Lighten your recipes by using nonfat or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, or mayonnaise. Use cooking spray instead of oil.
  • check mark Avoid getting too hungry by eating a healthy snack between meals.
  • check mark Do not keep chips, cookies, or candy in your home. Instead, for snacks have raw vegetables, fruit, low-fat or nonfat yogurt, or a handful of nuts, pumpkinseeds, or sunflower seeds.
  • check mark Choose water to drink.

Use this chart as a guide for portion sizes

Portion Sizes

Graphic image of an ice cream scoop

1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta =
An ice cream scoop


Graphic image of dice

1 1/2 ounces of cheese =
Four dice


Graphic image of cards

3 ounces of meat or fish =
Deck of cards


Graphic image of a ping pong ball

2 tablespoons peanut butter =
A ping pong ball



Step 3 Start Your GAME PLAN to Prevent Diabetes.

The key to losing weight and preventing diabetes is to make long-term changes that work for you—every day.

Taking these steps is a great way to get started.


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) is jointly sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with the support of more than 200 partner organizations.

This information is not copyrighted. The NIDDK encourages people to share this content freely.


February 2013


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