In observance of National Diabetes Month and World Diabetes Day on Wednesday, the National Institute of Health urges people to set goals to make plans to prevent diabetes and diabetes related complications. This year the focus is on promoting health after gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. Mothers who have had gestational diabetes need to know that they and their children have an increased lifelong risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Most of the time, gestational diabetes goes away after the baby is born. Even if the diabetes goes away, you have a greater chance of getting diabetes — and your child from that pregnancy is at future risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes. In fact, half of all women who had gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes.

If you have had gestational diabetes it is important to get tested for type 2 diabetes within 12 weeks after your baby is born. If the test is normal, get tested every three years. Talk to your doctor if you plan to become pregnant again in the future.

Keep up healthy habits for a lifetime to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. Even if you know what to do to improve your health, figuring out how to do it and fitting it into your daily routine can be the challenging part. The first step is to think about what is important to you and your health. Next, determine what changes you are willing and able to make. Third, you will decide what steps will help you reach your health goals.

You have most likely heard me talk about an “Action Plan” in the past. This is the perfect time to revisit that concept. The most important part of an action plan is to choose something you want to do. Next it needs to be something reasonable, such as something you can expect to be able to accomplish in a week or two. A true action plan is behavior specific. Losing weight is not a behavior; not eating after dinner is. An action plan answers these questions: What? How much? When? How often? The final piece of a successful action plan is to assess the confidence level that you will fulfill the contract. On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 represents little confidence and 10 represents total confidence, your plan should rank at least a 7. Once you have incorporated that action or goal into your daily life you are ready to choose something else to work on. I wrote a fact sheet a few years ago titled, “Action Plan for Healthy Living” which focuses on 15 lifestyle changes. If you have questions about developing an action plan related to a change you want to make, feel free to give me a call.

One final thought about National Diabetes Month — consider offering healthier choices at upcoming holiday celebrations that are centered around food. Almost any recipe can be modified by cutting down or changing the type of fat or sweetener used. Be respectful of your holiday guests’ dietary restrictions. Always have fresh vegetable and fruit plates available.

Donna Krug is the family & consumer science agent and district director in the Cottonwood Extension District. You can reach her at dkrug@ksu.edu