If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s an alarming sign that you may develop diabetes in the future. By sticking to the right diet for prediabetes, you can control your blood sugar levels and prevent the condition from advancing to diabetes.
Let’s look at the best diet for prediabetes, including the foods you should eat and avoid to keep your blood sugar levels in check.
What Is Prediabetes?
Many people confuse prediabetes with diabetes. Prediabetes is a condition when your blood sugar level is higher than normal but lower than the diabetes diagnosis range. It’s also known as borderline diabetes.
While normal blood sugar levels can vary from one laboratory to another, the standard levels are as follows.
- Fasting Glucose: Under 100 mg/dL
- Oral Glucose: Under 140 mg/dL
A person has diabetes if their fasting glucose levels are above 125 mg/dL and oral glucose levels are above 200 mg/dL. Thus, when the fasting and oral glucose levels are 101-125 mg/dL and 141-200 mg/dL, the condition is prediabetes.
In a nutshell, prediabetes means a person doesn’t have diabetes yet but is at a higher risk of developing the condition if they don’t take preventive measures.
Diet for Prediabetes: What to Eat?
Taking an appropriate diet is one of the most effective measures to prevent prediabetes from advancing to diabetes. Let’s look at the best foods to eat if you have prediabetes.
Vegetables are the best food to eat if you have prediabetes. They are rich in fiber, so they fill you up without increasing your blood glucose levels. And they’re delicious too and full of nutrients. So, eating large amounts of vegetables will help you control blood sugar and consume rich nutrients.
Prediabetic patients should aim for at least three to five servings per day. That could be either one cup raw or half cup cooked. The veggies you eat can be fresh, canned, or frozen. However, ensure that the vegetables you eat are low in sodium and starch.
Leafy greens, broccoli, and carrots are some great vegetables to eat for prediabetes.
Fruits, like vegetables, are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Though some fruits are sweet, they have plant-based sugars that don’t increase blood glucose levels. So, you can easily have a couple of servings a day. However, some fruits are very sweet, like melons, oranges, and berries. There’s nothing wrong with eating them, but it’s better to talk to your doctor first.
Whole grains, unlike refined grains, are rich in fiber and other nutrients. You can eat them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, as you like. Some examples of whole grains are quinoa, whole-wheat (brown) bread, brown rice, or oatmeal. If you love cookies, you can make them with whole-grain flour.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are great snacks for prediabetic patients. They’re full of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Eating a handful of nuts daily can improve your blood sugar levels and also improve your health in other ways. However, ensure that the nuts you eat are unsalted.
Some good nut choices for prediabetes patients are cashews, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, and walnuts.
Adding a lot of protein to your diet is another great way to keep your blood sugar levels in check. Add protein-rich foods like eggs, tofu, fish, and lean meats to your diet. Consuming protein has two benefits. One, it makes you feel fuller, so you’ll eat less. Second, it helps you build muscle and aid in weight loss.
Diet for Prediabetes: What to Avoid?
Do you know what’s eating the right food when you have prediabetes? It’s avoiding the wrong food. Some foods are a strict no-no when you have prediabetes, as eating them can increase your blood sugar levels and advance them to the diabetes stage. Here are some foods you should not eat if you have prediabetes.
Most vegetables are excellent for prediabetic patients. However, certain vegetables have more carbohydrates, and thus, they can increase your blood sugar levels. These include starchy vegetables like corn, winter squash, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.
Sugary drinks are flooded with added sugar. Moreover, they don’t have any helpful nutrients like protein or fiber. So, when you drink them, you consume nothing but unhealthy calories. If you’re suffering from prediabetes, you should avoid sugary drinks at all costs. This includes soft drinks, sports drinks, and mixed cocktails. If you want to satisfy your sweet cravings, you can drink natural fruit juices without added sugar.
Sugary drinks aren’t the only source of added sugar. Almost every sweet dish you see – cakes, pastries, candies – has sugar, and thus, they’re high in calories. Prediabetic patients should avoid or limit foods with added sugar.
Other Tips for Diet for Prediabetes
Apart from getting your diet right, it’s essential to take some more steps to keep your blood sugar levels in check. Here are a few tips to follow.
- Always have breakfast. Eating within two hours of waking up helps you keep your blood sugar levels later in the day.
- Create a dieting plan that suits you. There are several low-calorie diet plans you can follow, such as the Mediterranean diet, DASH diet, etc.
- Keep your glycemic index (GI) in check. A higher GI means more calories, and thus, higher sugar levels. However, a very low GI can also be dangerous. So, it’s essential to consume the right amounts of GI.
- Your best bet will be to talk to a dietician. Working with a diet expert will help you create the right diet plan to keep your blood sugar levels in check while maintaining the needed flow of nutrients.
Conclusion: Diet for Prediabetes
Prediabetes is a red flag that your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, and if not controlled, you can develop diabetes. The best way to control prediabetes is by taking the right diet and avoiding foods that increase your blood sugar levels. Ideally, limiting foods with refined carbs and added sugars will help you control prediabetes.
So, which foods will you omit from your diet?