I have developed insulin resistance, which may or may not be a precursor to Type II diabetes. Based on experiments I’ve done with my diet and exercise, I’m willing to bet that I’d develop diabetes if I weren’t actively working against it.
The American Diabetes Association publishes some very good reader-friendly guides to living with diabetes (e.g., http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1580401619/qid=1100309052/sr=2-1/ref=pd_ka_b_2_1/102-0657956-5816156). These cover issues such as what your test results mean, the effects of high blood sugar, how to test your blood sugar, diet, and exercise.
I follow a plan similar to the one in Whitaker’s book Reversing Diabetes (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0446676586/qid=1100309219/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/102-0657956-5816156?v=glance&s=books&n=507846). It’s similar to the South Beach Diet but also gives suggestions about exercise and vitamins. It also cites the relevant research, something that is lacking in many popular diabetes self-help books.
At this point, my typical diet is about 60% complex carbohydrates (non-starchy, less-sweet fruits and vegetables), 20% protein, and 20% fat. I eat about 1500-2000 calories a day (more with more exercise). I exercise at least half an hour a day. What works best for my metabolism (and weight loss) is walking on a treadmill before I eat breakfast.
I lost 50 pounds in half a year, then gained a good part of that back simply by not exercising aerobically. I’m now working on getting it off again by maintaining a good aerobic exercise regimen. I have lost 21 pounds since August 29th and have dropped my A1c (90-day blood sugar average) to 5.4 (my doctor threatened me with medication when I went up to 6.1). And I’ve got to say that I hate getting up and exercising, but my triglycerides have never been better.
Dropping your sugar and highly refined flour intake is probably going to be helpful. You might look for stevia in a natural foods store or online–it’s a plant-derived sweetener that’s much better for you than something like saccharine. It may also have blood sugar-lowering effects. If you must have chocolate, look for darker chocolates that have lower net carbohydrates (total carbohydrates minus fiber). Lindt makes several less-sweet chocolate bars. As for the side effects of some of the new sugars, try differnt ones. I can’t eat lactitol (what Hershey’s uses) because I’m lactose intolerant, but maltitol is okay. In addition, I loathe Diabetisweet (isomalt) and think Splenda’s okay, whereas my partner’s family all have the opposite reaction.
Even modest weight loss is very helpful for reducing the effects of diabetes and the cardiac complications associated with it.
Joslin Clinic has message boards that you might want to look at. They’re moderated by people with medical training. In addition, search SDMB as there have been a number of threads about diabetes and diet in the past. There’s an active thread in MPSIMS for weight loss support.
I’m not a medical doctor, but I’m happy to try to answer questions or point you toward resources.