ABCs of Diabetes

A1C: Hemoglobin A1C represents levels of blood sugar over the past 3 months. Normal A1C levels are between 4% to 5.6%. Pre-diabetes A1C levels range between 5.7% and 6.4% and A1C levels considered diabetes are 6.5% or higher1.

  • Monitor your A1C levels every three months1.
  • Check your blood sugar levels and follow your medication or insulin regimen as prescribed1.
  • Eat on a regular meal schedule and familiarize yourself with proper portion sizes.
  • Distribute your daily carbohydrate intake evenly throughout the day.
  • Limit sweet treats and incorporate them as part of your daily total carbohydrate intake. 


Blood pressure (hypertension). Lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of stroke, heart and kidney disease2.

  • Reduce your sodium intake to 2,000mg per day, which translates to about one teaspoon of salt.
  • Integrate 8-10 servings of potassium rich foods into your diet such as 1/4 cantaloupe, 1 cup of leafy greens, ½ cup broccoli or ¼ cup almonds.
  • Limit your alcohol consumption to two drinks per day for men and one for women. One drink is considered a 12oz. beer, 4oz wine, or 1.5 oz. 80-proof spirits or 1 oz. of 100-proof spirits2.
  • Manage your stress by integrating physical activity and making time to talk to friends and family. Learn to accept things you cannot change. Try to avoid things that might upset you. Practice gratitude, focus on the positive and participate on activities that give you joy2.


Cholesterol (hyperlipidemia). Lifestyle changes alone (without medication) may help lower your cholesterol levels2. A simple lifestyle change, such as adding fiber rich foods to your daily diet can help lower your cholesterol levels by 10%2.

  • Add whole grains to your diet. Verify that packaging reads 100% whole wheat bread or cereals.
  • Include 5-11 servings of fruits and vegetables daily; they are a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Choose low-fat milk and dairy products2. Limit your intake of saturated fats from whole milk dairy foods and red meat. The American Heart Association recommends restricting saturated fat to 5-6 % of total daily calories2. Limit your intake of red meat to once a week. Integrate other types of protein such as poultry, fish, legumes, nuts, and seeds2.
  • Include physical activity in your daily routine to increase your HDL (good cholesterol) level. Sedentary lifestyles lower HDL and consequently your ability to remove LDL (bad) cholesterol from the body2.
  • Quit smoking as it also lowers HDL2.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Lose excess weight, as obesity can raise LDL and lower HDL2.


By: Lizbeth Diaz, Dietetic Intern

In collaboration with: Alicia Calvo, MPH, RD, CDE, CEDRD


1American Diabetes Association. (2018). Diabetes Care in the Hospital: Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes– 2018.

2American Heart Association. (2018). Prevention and Treatment of High Cholesterol (Hyperlipidemia). Retrieved October 22, 2018, from

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