November is National Diabetes Month

Written by Samantha Walter-Cano, Edited by Olivia Zugay

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects more than 37 million Americans. Diabetes is categorized into two main types: type 1 and type 2. More than 90-95% of people with diabetes have type 2, and 5-10% have type 1. While there is no cure for diabetes, there are some ways to delay and prevent diabetes, especially type 2.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that is caused by elevated levels of sugar in the bloodstream. This can be due to many varied factors. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to regulate blood sugar. When one has diabetes, it is either because the body produces little insulin, is resistant to insulin, or even both. The risk factors differ for each type.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is the least common of the two main types. It is thought to be the cause of an autoimmune reaction that targets and destroys the cells that produce insulin. This results in the body having little to no insulin. People with type 2 diabetes must take insulin every day. While the cause of type 1 is largely unknown, the likelihood of developing autoimmune diseases is genetic and can be inherited from your parents. Blood sugar tests and ketone tests are used to test and diagnose type 1 diabetes. Risk factors for type 1 include having a family history of type 1 diabetes as well as being a child or young adult.

There is no known prevention for type 1 diabetes, but it can be treated by:

  • Leading a healthy lifestyle as doctors recommend
  • Managing blood sugar levels
  • Attending regular follow-up visits with a doctor
  • Having knowledge of basic steps to diabetes management, such as how to plan meals and how to treat low and high blood sugar

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common in people with diabetes. People with type 2 are insulin resistant, which means their body does not know how to use insulin or does not respond well to it. Risk factors include:

  • Having prediabetes
  • Being overweight
  • Being 45 years or older
  • Having a family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Being physically active less than 3 times a week

Prevention of Type 2 diabetes:

Since low activity levels, poor diet, and excess body weight increase the chances of type 2 diabetes, prevention is possible. Before diagnoses of type 2 diabetes, most people have prediabetes. This means that their blood sugar is higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetic. Prediabetes can be reversed by making healthy lifestyle changes. This includes keeping active, eating healthy food, decreasing added sugar intake, and losing a small amount of weight.

Treatment for type 2 diabetes:

The first step in treating type 2 diabetes is to lower high blood sugar levels. Staying active and eating healthy are some of the most important ways to treat and manage type 2 diabetes. Even losing 5-10 pounds can help to manage diabetes better. Other treatment includes:

  • Learning diabetes management skills
  • Managing blood sugar
  • Taking medicine to treat diabetes, if prescribed by a doctor
  • Taking care of your emotional health

If you lose weight and stay active, you may no longer need to use medicine to regulate blood sugar. When reaching an ideal weight, a healthy diet and your body’s insulin can control blood sugar levels.

Healthy Recipes

Eating healthy and meal planning is proven to prevent and treat type 2 diabetes. It is important to make healthy choices, as well as understand what is going into your body and how it will affect you. Eating from a variety of food groups helps you stay healthy. Limiting alcohol consumption and sweets will help manage blood sugar.

Fresh Fruit Salad

A colorful array of fruit salad sits in a white bowl.
Image from

Fruits are high in nutrients and fiber and are a good choice to add in when meal planning. They are natural sources of sugars and can help satisfy a sweet tooth. It is important to choose fresh, frozen, or canned fruit that does not have any added sugars or syrups.

Recipe by: Benjamin, Vegan Bowl Recipe


  • 2 Oranges (slice and cut away peel)
  • 3 Kiwi (slice and cut away peel)
  • 2 Nectarines (stones removed and cut into segments)
  • 100 g Black grapes (cut in half)
  • 100 g Strawberries (remove tops and slice)
  • 1 Banana (peeled and sliced)
  • ½ Lime (juice only)


  1. Place all fruits in a bowl, pour on the lime juice, and gently stir to coat the fruits.
  2. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours before serving to allow the fruits to release their juices and combine.
  3. Stir gently to coat the fruits with their mixed juices before serving.

Makes 4 servings, 145 calories per serving

Recipe link: Sugar-free fresh fruit salad — Vegan Recipe Bowl

Crispy Smashed Brussels Sprouts

Vegetables are also high in nutrients and fiber and can be incorporated into a meal every day. Choose vegetables to consume without added sauces and fats. Non-starchy vegetables, such as dark greens, are also a good choice to minimize starch intake. Bussell sprouts are high in fiber, which helps blood sugar from rising too fast, and are low in carbs.

Brussel sprouts lay on a piece of baked salmon, drizzled with balsamic dressing.
Image from

Recipe by: Carolyn Casner, Eating Well


  • 1 ½ pounds medium to large Brussels sprouts, trimmed (16-18)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of everything bagel seasoning
  • Zest from 1 large lemon


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Fill a large bowl with ice water.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add Brussels sprouts, reduce heat to maintain a lively simmer, and cook until just tender when pierced with a skewer, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Drain the sprouts and plunge them into the ice bath. Let stand until cool enough to handle.
  4. Transfer the sprouts to a clean dish towel and pat dry.
  5. Spread the sprouts on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil; toss to coat.
  6. Space the sprouts evenly on the pan, then flatten them with the bottom of a mason jar or sturdy glass.
  7. Roast for 10 minutes. Gently flip the flattened sprouts and sprinkle with Parmesan, everything bagel seasoning, and lemon zest.
  8. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes more.

Recipe Link: Crispy Smashed Brussels Sprouts Recipe | EatingWell


“Diabetes Risk Factors.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 Apr. 2022,

“Diabetes Type 2 – Meal Planning.” UF Health, University of Florida Health, 29 Sept. 2021,

“Diabetes.” UF Health, University of Florida Health, 29 Sept. 2021,

“Prevent Type 2 Diabetes.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 Dec. 2021,

“Type 1 Diabetes.” UF Health, University of Florida Health, 29 Sept. 2021,

“Type 2 Diabetes.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Dec. 2021,

“Type 2 Diabetes.” UF Health, University of Florida Health, 29 Sept. 2021,

“What Is Diabetes?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7 July 2022,

Benjamin. “Sugar-Free Fresh Fruit Salad.” Vegan Recipe Bowl, 1 Apr. 2021,

Casner, Carolyn. “Crispy Smashed Brussels Sprouts.” EatingWell,


Olivia Zugay, virtual assistant and editor at UF/IFAS Extension Indian River County
Posted: November 29, 2023

Category: Fruits & Vegetables, Health & Nutrition, Work & Life

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