It’s estimated that almost 50% of the American population has diabetes or prediabetes – a condition where blood sugar is higher than normal levels. It is accompanied by insulin resistance, a risk factor for full-blown diabetes, and other health complications. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data estimates the recent prevalence of total diabetes, diagnosed diabetes and undiagnosed diabetes’ US trends to be 12-14% among US adults.
So, neither should you shrug off your doctor’s advice, nor should you be taking your elevated blood sugar levels lightly. Generally, the power of a pre-diabetes diet plan, for getting those numbers back on track, is underestimated.
Prediabetes is diagnosed when fasting blood sugar levels range from 100 to 125 mg/dl, or hemoglobin A1C levels range from 5.7 to 6.4%. One needs to undergo regular prediabetes tests to be sure. But, with the right pre-diabetes diet plan, one starts to feel the difference in their energy levels soon enough.
This is a chance to take control. Simple and daily lifestyle changes, like a balanced diet and regular exercise, that help you lose weight go a long way towards warding off the risk of progressing to full-blown type 2 diabetes.
Pre-Diabetes Diet Plan: Changes You Need To Make Today
If you already have pre-diabetes, you are likely to develop type 2 diabetes (T2D) within the next 10 years unless you make some changes, starting from today. It’s time to adopt a new pre-diabetes diet plan built on some basic principles:
Don’t Skip Breakfast
You may barely make it to office on time, but that doesn’t mean you skip breakfast. That means you wake up earlier! A healthy breakfast starts your day on the right note. It gives your metabolism the kick-start it needs so that, later in the day, you don’t overeat. Choose healthy breakfast options like oatmeal, eggs with whole-wheat toast or a breakfast smoothie made with fresh fruits and vegetables.
It’s what we all did naturally, even until thirty to forty years ago. Your mom knew what she was taking about when she asked you to stay away from that evening snack. She said it so that you didn’t spoil your appetite for dinner! Sadly, with increased affluence and easy availability of processed foods, the fad of eating six small meals a day to stave off cravings has become popular. Eating frequent meals keeps your blood sugar and insulin levels consistently high. If you keep giving your body food, it has no incentive to burn fat. Stick to three meals a day at the most, with a clear 10-12 hour fasting period between dinner and breakfast. Intermittent fasting improves insulin sensitivity and helps you reverse your prediabetes really quickly.
Add Fiber to Your Diet
Eating fiber-rich food helps you feel fuller for longer periods. By adding bulk to your diet, there is better digestion. Also, there are lesser chances of overeating at any meal. Good examples of fiber-rich foods are beans, legumes, whole grains like barley and quinoa, whole-wheat bread and fruits and vegetables eaten with their skins.
Nuts Are Your Friends
Nuts make an excellent snack, but only if you feel hungry in between meals. They taste great even when added to oatmeal, salads and curries. An American Society for Nutrition study from 2008 revealed that nuts have the potential to improve blood lipid profile to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabete. Choose from walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, hazelnut, peanuts and pistachio. Steer clear of packaged nuts with added fats and sugars. The best kinds of nuts are the organic and least processed kinds.
Eliminate All Trans Fats and Sugars From Your Diet
You may have already stopped adding sugar to your tea or coffee, but hidden sugars find their way into your diet through a plethora of other channels. Check food labels to stay away from hidden sugars. Give up on soda and sugary drinks as well. That Starbucks latte you love must go too! You want to avoid empty calories, trust us. Give your body the calories it needs through wholesome, healthy foods that provide real nutrition. Cutting back on trans fats is also important for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. That means you should stop buying packaged, processed, baked goods and focus on cooking fresh meals at home, from scratch.
Eat More Healthy Fats
Healthy fats that provide Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are your friends. Not only do these fats help you feel fuller, they are heart-healthy and are beneficial for diabetics (as shown by research published in Cardiovascular Diabetology 2009). The study found that adding just 4g of prescription Omega-3 to the diet resulted in significant reductions in the levels of triglycerides, VLDL triglycerides, the triglyceride/HDL cholesterol ratio and an increase in HDL cholesterol. Think avocado, nuts, olive oil and oily fish, for example.
Choose Grains Wisely
It’s not just sugar that causes elevated blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates also break down into sugars. So, choosing the right source of carbs is an essential part of your pre-diabetes diet plan. Refined carbohydrates with a high glycemic index are best avoided, as the body readily transforms them into simple sugars. Instead, choose complex carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, barley, steel-cut oats, whole-wheat breads, buckwheat, amaranth and millets.
Eat Lean Cuts of Meat
Eating more protein helps you to stay full for longer durations, lose weight and keep your blood sugar levels stable through the day. Since proteins are harder to digest than carbs, they offer sustained energy throughout the day and keep mindless snacking at bay. However, not all meats are the same. Choose lean cuts of meat that aren’t laden with animal fats. Completely eliminate processed meats like bacon, sausages, salami and other cold-cuts from your diet. Instead, focus on fresh chicken, turkey, fish and lean cuts of lamb. If you must eat red meat (we see no real reason to), limit it to no more than two servings a week.
Portion control comes naturally when you choose the right grains, proteins and fats. You don’t have to starve yourself to lose weight if you’re eating the right kind of food. However, eating in moderation never hurt anyone, even if they have to make a conscious effort at it in the beginning. Eat the right foods to regulate satiety, but eat slowly and chew your food well. That way, your brain has a chance to let you know when you’re full. If you gobble your food in no time, you mess up your digestion and eat a lot more than you need to.
Drink in Moderation
Alcohol contains added sugars and dehydrates the body too. Drink in moderation, no more than one drink at a time. Also, choose your spirits wisely. Simple scotch, whisky or wine is far better than cocktails that contain sugary mixers.
Pre Diabetes Is Reversible With The Right Diet Plan
A diagnosis of pre diabetes is a warning sign about your health, don’t let it become a life sentence. With the right pre-diabetes diet plan, it is reversible. Losing weight drains excess fat from the pancreas and allows for the insulin function to normalize. Irrespective of whether you lead a sedentary, moderately-active or highly-active lifestyle, we have a simple diabetic diet plan for you, which, when coupled with regular exercise, will help reverse your diabetes.
Five Mistakes To Avoid In A Pre-Diabetes Diet:
Pre-diabetes is considered an epidemic. But, simple daily dietary changes can help cut the risk factor by more than 50%. While your doctor may think that diabetes medication, like metformin, should be your first choice, we strongly recommend a pre-diabetes diet meal plan coupled with regular exercise as your first line of defense.
However, these 4 mistakes are best avoided while charting out your new diet plan –
Mistake No #1: Don’t think you only have to avoid sugar
There’s more to diabetes than just cutting back on sugar. The misconception that eating sugar causes diabetes is far from the truth. The real culprit is simple carbohydrates that break down into sugars upon ingestion. Inactivity and a poor metabolism also play a significant role, which is why you need to clean up all your lifestyle choices and lose weight.
Mistake No #2: Don’t blindly pick everything labeled ‘low fat’
You may think that low-fat food items are okay for someone who is trying to lose weight. In our experience, fat, in general, gets a bad rep for no valid reasons. Good, heart-healthy fats are needed by your body. To make matters worse, most low-fat food substitutes contain hidden sugars to improve their taste, which is far riskier for prediabetics.
Mistake No #3: Fats are not the villain
The real villains, as we’ve mentioned above, are processed carbs. We highly recommend a LCHF diet to lose weight. An LCHF diet (Low Carb High Fat diet) focuses on restricting starches and sugary foods like bread and pasta, and instead, focuses on eating healthy foods, including lots of natural fats. There’s no calorie counting required either. By choosing a low carb diet that encourages high fat intake and moderate protein intake, your blood glucose levels stay stable all day long. You also feel fuller on lesser food.
Mistake No #4: Don’t underestimate the power of losing even a little bit of weight
In 2007, the American Diabetes Association published the results of a ‘One-Year Results of the Look AHEAD Trial’ to study the reduction in weight and cardiovascular disease risk factors in individuals with Type 2 Diabetes. It showed that losing even 5-7% of your body weight reduces the risk for developing T2D by as much as 58%. You can lose weight by following a diet especially created to help burn stored abdominal fat (like the LCHF or Low-Carb-High-Fat Diet coupled with Intermittent Fasting).
Mistake No#5: Don’t eat frequently
Ignore the fads. Give your body a break between the three main meals of the day. Let it get sensitive to insulin again. Let your body burn fat for energy between meals. No doubt, it takes a little getting used to. But, if you make sure that your diet has the good fats your body needs, it will respond by learning to use fats, instead of craving sugar.
Change can be hard. But, when you have some great prediabetes recipes that are fun to share with friends and family, making healthy changes to your diet won’t seem difficult anymore.
Try our Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Pizza for a satisfying Sunday morning breakfast with your family.
This Baked Chicken with Vegetable recipe is good too. Your friends will beg you to bring it to every potluck dinner.
For a light vegan lunch, try this Grilled Eggplant Panini that is packed with healthy fiber and a mélange of refreshing flavors.
These Thai Crab Cakes will be a hit at any party you host.
No, all desserts are not off-limits for you. Why would you even think that? Try these Chocolate and Peanut Butter Brownies the next time you want to indulge your sweet tooth.