Exercise regularly. Walk at least 30 minutes a day.
Eat a nutritious diet high in fiber and whole grain. Reduce the intake of high-calorie food.
"Various research studies have shown that maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, weight management and regular exercise can prevent the development of diabetes or help control an existing condition," said Dr. Chandalia, an associate professor of internal medicine.
Diabetes has several basic forms and stages:
Pre-diabetes: People have higher-than-normal blood sugar levels but the levels are not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis.
Type 1: The immune system attacks insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, requiring insulin to survive. This typically affects children.
Type 2: The body can't efficiently use its own insulin and insulin production can't keep up with the high demand, so glucose builds up in the blood and the body can't burn the blood sugars that are its main source of fuel. This is normally associated with older age, obesity, diabetic family history, physical inactivity and certain ethnicities, but is increasingly diagnosed in overweight children as well.
With about 14 million diagnosed cases of type 1 or type 2 diabetes and 6 million undiagnosed cases, it's vital to stay healthy during the holidays, Dr. Chandalia said.
Keep in mind, she said, that it takes more than avoiding sugary treats.
"Diabetes doesn't occur just because of eating sugar. Sugar, as any other food, provides excess calories that can lead to obesity and a predisposition to diabetes," Dr. Chandalia said. "If you don't eat sugar, and continue to eat extra calories from other foods, you may still develop diabetes."