Make lifestyle changes for your health this new year

By Kalynne M. Defever

National Kidney Foundation of Michigan

OSCEOLA COUNTY —  January is the start of a new year and a time when many people make New Year’s resolutions to be healthier.

Maintaining a healthy weight, staying active and quitting smoking can help reduce your risk for a number of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, which is the leading cause of kidney failure. Living with diabetes or risk factors for type 2 diabetes is not easy. It’s common to feel overwhelmed, sad or angry when you have to make lifestyle changes to stay healthy. You may know what to do to improve your health, but figuring out how to do it can be a challenge.

The National Kidney Foundation of Michigan is here to educate and encourage individuals to help make healthy food choices, engage in physical activity and quit smoking to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and related complications, and also help those with diabetes to manage their condition.

An estimated 10 percent of Michigan adults have been diagnosed with diabetes — about 758,300 people — and more than 250,000 Michigan adults are thought to have undiagnosed diabetes. In addition, an estimated 35 percent of the U.S. adult population age 20 and older have prediabetes — a condition where blood glucose or A1C levels are higher than normal, yet not diabetes. People with prediabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and are at higher risk of heart disease and stroke.

Making lifestyle changes can go a long way toward improving your health, but even if you know what to do, figuring out how to do it and fitting it into your daily routine can be a challenge. Here are some simple steps for eating healthier and exercising more to get started on your resolutions for 2016.

Keep these healthy eating tips in mind:

  • Try not to exceed the amount of calories and fat grams that you need on a daily basis.
  • Try to eat meals and snacks at regular times every day.
  • Make less food look like more by serving your meals on a smaller plate.
  • Take your time when you eat. It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you are full.
  • Try to limit your alcoholic beverage intake. If you drink alcohol, choose light beer and avoid mixed drinks.

Take these small steps to increase physical activity in your daily routine:

  • Build physical activity into your day—take your dog for a walk, park further away from store entrances, or walk around while watching television.
  • Start off slowly with a 5-minute walk on most days, then add more time until you reach 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five days a week.
  • Move more at work. Try to get a "movement break" during the day.
  • Make it social. When you involve others in your activities, you are more likely to stick to your program.
  • Keep at it. Pay attention to small successes. The longer you keep at it, the better you'll feel.

In addition to eating healthy and including physical activity into your daily routine, it’s also important to quit smoking. Smoking increases your chance of having type 2 diabetes and makes diabetes harder to control, making it even more deadly and disabling for individuals with diabetes. A nicotine replacement product or other medications can help you stop smoking.

Try to add one or two healthy changes every week. If you fall off the wagon, don’t get down on yourself. The NKFM offers the My Choice ... My Health Diabetes Prevention Program at various locations throughout Michigan. My Choice ... My Health helps those at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles by eating healthier, increasing physical activity and losing a modest amount of weight in order to reduce their chances of developing the disease.

Visit for a list of upcoming classes and for more information.