Diabetes is widely regarded as an inconvenient (yet manageable) disease. In most cases, though, people may not be aware that they have developed diabetes until the symptoms become evident. However, if you regularly monitor your blood sugar levels, it’s easy to determine if you’re at risk for developing diabetes. This is because, more often than not, diabetes is preceded by pre-diabetes, which is a condition that can be reversed. In this article, you’ll learn about the right kinds of pre-diabetes diet and discover some lifestyle changes that can improve your health.
What Is Pre-Diabetes?
Pre-diabetes is a condition where the levels of glucose in your blood are higher than normal, but aren’t yet so high that the condition can be classified as diabetes. In a healthy person, the insulin hormone, which is secreted by the pancreas, helps convert the glucose from the food you eat into energy. If your body produces insufficient levels of insulin, or if your body doesn’t respond to insulin as it normally should, this may interfere with the process of converting glucose to energy, thus leading to higher blood glucose levels.
The early stages of this condition is known as pre-diabetes, and at this point it is usually easily reversable with dietary and lifestyle changes. Once the disease progresses to full diabetes, the prognosis is more grim.
Risk Factors for Pre-Diabetes
Some of the risk factors that can lead to this condition include:
12 Diets For Pre-Diabetes
While the exact pre-diabetes diet plan is entirely up to your personal food preferences, it can help if you have some pointers to help you create the right diet for you. In this vein, here are twelve of the best pre-diabetes diet ideas to keep in mind.
The Mediterranean diet is widely touted as one of the best meal plans to manage several kinds of diseases. It naturally follows that this eating plan is also an effective pre-diabetes diet, as it lays emphasis on consuming higher portions of vegetables and foods cooked in olive oil. Protein consumption is moderate and focuses on chicken, fish, and other lighter proteins.
A common misconception is that a pre-diabetes diet or a meal plan for diabetics must not include any fruits. On the contrary, it is recommended that you eat fiber-rich fruits that have edible skins, and fruits rich in potassium content, such as apples, pears, oranges, watermelon, cantaloupe, and berries. It’s best to avoid fruits juices and eat whole fruits instead. Smoothies should also be avoided, as both smoothies and juices contains all the sugar of fruit but don't require your body to go to much effort to digest them.
Diets With Controlled Portions
Controlling your portions is also an effective way to kick-start a workable pre-diabetes diet. Portion-controlled diets that are planned well allow you to consume lower levels of carbohydrates and are widely recognized as low GI meal plans, meaning that the foods are digested, absorbed, and metabolized more slowly, causing a lower and slower rise in blood glucose levels and insulin levels.
Diet Rich In Lean Meats
Lean meats are essentially foods that have had all the animal fats trimmed out of them. If you must include meats in your pre-diabetes diet, this is the best kind to consume. Look for cuts that have the words “round” and “loin” in their names, because these cuts have less fat content. Also, choose white-meat chicken and turkey without the skin. Fish is another safe source of non-vegetarian food that doesn’t contribute to diabetes.
Vegetables can help you reverse pre-diabetes because they are bulky foods that fill you up without contributing too many fats or carbs to your dient. This healthy balance is essential to regulate your blood sugar levels. Non-starchy vegetables like fresh lettuce, tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, onions, snow peas, mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, and Brussels sprouts are some great food choices.
Healthy Cooking Oil Diets
The cooking oils that you use to prepare your food can also contribute significantly to the health of your body. Using processed and refined oils is typically more common because these oils are more affordable. However, organically extracted oils such as unrefined coconut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, or peanut oil are healthier options to use for cooking your food.
High-fiber foods are also low on the glycemic index scale. So, it’s advisable to formulate and follow a pre-diabetes diet that includes a significant portion of high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. These foods also help you feel full faster and keep you from consuming high GI foods that can lead to weight gain.
A Diet That Includes Hydrating Beverages
Staying hydrated is an essential factor when it comes to controlling and reversing pre-diabetes. Low-calorie beverages that hydrate the body, such as water, decaffeinated black coffee, unsweetened tea without milk, and water with mint, lime, lemon, or cucumber are some great choices to begin with if you want to switch caffeinated beverages for decaffeinated options.
A Diet with the Right Sources of Protein
There’s no doubt that your pre-diabetes diet needs to be rich in proteins. However, you need to ensure that you choose the right kinds of proteins as well. Some good sources include chicken and turkey without the skin, egg whites without the yolk, fish like cod, flounder, haddock, halibut, tuna, or trout, and low-fat Greek yogurt.
A Diet Low In Sugary Drinks
Sugary drinks can spike the levels of glucose in your blood and push you further into the risky area of developing diabetes. A 12-ounce can of soda has over 40 grams of carbohydrates. Including too many sugary drinks can be detrimental to your health if you suffer from pre-diabetes. If you’re interested in following a pre-diabetes diet, cutting out sugary drinks like soda is a good place to start.
A Vegan Diet
Going vegan can be incredibly beneficial if you’ve been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. Since it eliminates all sources of animal food and focuses on consuming organically grown fruits and vegetables, your body will find it easier to reestablish the right levels of blood glucose. You can handle and even reverse pre-diabetes swiftly and effectively with a vegan diet.
A Diet With Limited (or No) Processed Foods
Another effective pre-diabetes diet to follow is a simple meal plan that focuses on eliminating processed foods as much as possible. For each meal, try and consume foods that are prepared at home. If possible, include organically grown fruits and vegetables. Source your food locally, and ensure that it’s as natural as it can get.
Lifestyle Changes To Improve Health
There are few lifestyle changes that can also help your body recover and restore blood sugar levels to the normal range. Some such tips are explained below.
Follow A Pre-Diabetes Diet
There are several pre-diabetes diets that you can follow. Pick one that you believe will work for you or combine several of them, and focus on remaining loyal to the diet until you see noticeable positive changes in your health and your body. Don't view these diets as temporary. View them as a life-long change towards better health.
Exercise is a necessary element if you want to fight off pre-diabetes. Incorporate different activities into your everyday life, such as going for a walk after meals, scheduling an hour to work out at a gym on at least three days a week, or enrolling in a Zumba class. You could even try biking or dancing, if that’s what appeals to you. The key is to get the body moving.
Get Your Share Of Vitamin D
A study in 2013 revealed that pre-diabetics who were deficient in vitamin D saw an improvement in blood glucose levels after they supplemented their diet with the vitamin. So try and spend some time in the sun each day, either early in the morning, or in the late afternoon, once the intensity of the sun has reduced a bit.
Reduce Your Stress Levels
Stress may not be among the direct causes of diabetes, but it could play a significant role in your body’s overall health. Anxiety and stress have often been linked to weight gain, and an increase in weight can put you on the path to diabetes. The body also functions better when it is less stressed out. So, practice calming techniques like meditation and ensure that you get adequate sleep.
The important thing to remember is that being diagnosed with pre-diabetes does not mean that you’ll inevitably become a diabetic. Fortunately, pre-diabetes, despite its ominous sounding name, is merely a condition indicative of the blood glucose levels in your body. In most cases, it is temporary and can be reversed with a disciplined lifestyle that adheres to a few core principles. Visit your doctor to understand what factors in your lifestyle may have contributed to pre-diabetes and focus on eliminating those unhealthy habits.