Prediabetes or borderline diabetes refers to blood glucose levels higher than normal but not yet high enough to diagnose diabetes. It is more or less a grey area between normal blood sugar and diabetic levels. For this reason, prediabetes can develop into type 2 diabetes, especially if undiagnosed or untreated. The good news is that prediabetes is just a warning sign, and you can improve or even reverse your prediabetes.
Specific lifestyle changes can turn prediabetes around. While many of these are related to exercise and medicines, your diet also plays a significant role. A prediabetes diet comes down to making the right food choices and portion control to help with weight loss and ensure your blood sugar does not experience drastic spikes. So let’s take a closer look at the foods that are the building blocks of a prediabetes diet.
Components of a Prediabetes Diet
A study shows that lifestyle intervention targeting diet and exercise decreases prediabetes progression risk for as long as ten years. Develop a low-cost, easily accessible prediabetes diet to normalise blood glucose levels. Since overweight and obesity are lifestyle risk factors for prediabetes, the diet should support weight loss in a healthy form. Besides the positive effect on insulin, weight loss can help regulate blood sugar more consistently.
Check out the types of foods to include in a prediabetes diet:
Eat More Fibre
Foods high in fibre keep you full longer after a meal, reducing the likelihood of overeating. It means you are never in the danger zone of binge eating calorie-dense snacks. Fibre also digests and absorbs more slowly, causing a slower rise in blood sugar and, in turn, preventing rapid sugar spikes. Steel-cut oats, stone-ground whole wheat bread, beans, legumes, fruits and vegetables can help you get to the recommended amount of fibre per day.
Increase Protein Intake
You need to cut down on added sugar and carbs. But your body still requires energy, and this is where you should rely on protein and healthy fat intake. Try to incorporate high lean protein in the diet. You can use eggs, fatty fish, skinless poultry, or low-fat dairy products. If you are vegan, go for plant-based protein like lentils, beans, nuts, soybeans (and their products) etc. Including lean proteins instead of those higher in saturated fat can help reverse abrupt spikes during prediabetes. The recommended portions are to have ¼th of your plate with protein, ½ of your plate with vegetables, and ¼th with complex carbs.
Low Glycemic Index Foods
A food’s glycemic index score reflects how quickly it will raise your blood sugar. Therefore, choose foods with a low glycemic index, such as non-starchy vegetables, leafy greens, olives, raw carrots, whole wheat pasta, and sweet potatoes.
Functional foods are naturally occurring foods with additional medicinal benefits beyond essential nutrition, including regulating blood sugar levels. Aside from your everyday foods, try mixing a handful of functional foods into your snacks and meals.
Some prediabetes-friendly functional foods are:
- Chia Seeds
- Flax Seeds
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Extra-virgin olive oil
The HealthifyMe Note
The more fibre your prediabetes diet contains, the longer your body takes to digest those foods, which is what you want! You must also include lean proteins and replace saturated fats with healthy fats. Because protein helps stabilise blood sugars, we strongly suggest eating a protein serving at every meal.
Foods to Avoid
Minimise Refined Sugar Intake
Sugar is one element that brings you to an unhealthy state of prediabetes. Therefore, you should avoid all sweetened beverages, including carbonated drinks, energy drinks, flavoured milk, and many juices that are additionally sweetened. These flavoured drinks contain many sweeteners and empty calories harmful to your blood glucose levels.
Avoid Junk and Processed Foods
Processed and junk foods are extremely low in fibre and nutrients, which absorb more quickly in the gastrointestinal tract. It causes drastic spikes in blood sugar. Avoid or limit packaged snack foods, fast foods, white bread, creamy pasta, and rice.
It is essential to avoid all trans-fat-containing products—especially products which are fried and have a large amount of cholesterol. Hence, avoid packaged chips, cookies, fast food products, and pasta sauces.
Sample Prediabetes Meal Plan
When creating a prediabetes meal plan, there are some general rules. One, only half of your calories must come from carbs. Two, pair carbs with protein and fat to slow digestion and prevent blood sugar spikes. With that in mind, here’s a one-day prediabetes meal plan:
- Breakfast: Oatmeal with cinnamon, berries, and chopped walnuts
- Afternoon snack: Low-fat Greek yoghurt with slivered almonds
- Lunch: Tofu scramble with vegetables and whole grain bread
- Evening snack: Green or lemon tea with sliced apple
- Dinner: Skinless roasted chicken breast with brown rice and spinach salad
Essential Tips to Follow
Preparing a prediabetes diet plan is not as difficult as it might seem. Remember, it’s not that you have to cut out your beloved foods completely. Instead, it’s about including more healthy, nutrient-dense foods and saving the higher fat for special occasions.
Plan a Sustainable Diet
Many times you plan a rigorous low-fat and low-carb meal. But it becomes difficult for your body, and eventually, you give up. So instead, prepare a meal according to your daily nutrient requirements and take one step at a time. It will help you follow the diet for a more extended period and eventually might become your favourite eating style. Tracking and personalising nutrition according to your lifestyle and dietary preferences is easier by signing up on HealthifyMe.
Portion control, particularly portioning carbohydrate-containing foods, is vital for reversing prediabetes. The idea is to control the number of carbohydrates you’re eating at one time. Practising portion control also promotes weight loss, which helps reverse prediabetes in overweight people. It’s pretty simple; you only need to use the plate method and smaller dinnerware. Smaller plates and bowls can subconsciously cause us to view portions as large. The reverse is true for using larger plates.
Drink More Water
Choosing water over sugary drinks may not seem like a big deal, but it helps cut down a lot of extra calories and added sugar intake. Also, adding citrus, cucumbers, or herbs like mint to your water infuses more flavour and makes drinking water much more enjoyable.
The HealthifyMe Note
Taking care of your diet becomes very important if you are prediabetic, pushing you towards a balanced and healthy diet. Make sure you take the right amount of nutrients in the right form. Takeout food might be a delicious, convenient go-to meal for you, but when it comes to prediabetes and blood sugar management, one of the best things you can do is eat more home-cooked meals.
Making small, incremental changes in your food choices can improve your blood sugar markers and lower prediabetes risk. While following a prediabetes diet, you can continue getting the flavours you love. Prediabetes is reversible as long as you know the ropes to portion higher calorie foods and carbs more appropriately. However, cut back slowly. Just like anything else, your dietary choices can be a tough habit to kick. A holistic approach is to make small changes that will significantly impact the long run. Focus on eating more fibre and lean proteins and including more activity.