Formulating a prediabetes diet is a crucial step in reversing the diagnosis and staving off type 2 diabetes. There are about 86 million Americans living with prediabetes, and about 70 percent of them will eventually develop type 2 diabetes. But this doesn’t have to be the case. If you follow a healthy prediabetes diet and exercise regularly, you can reverse the diagnosis and stay healthy longer.
What is prediabetes?
Prediabetes happens when your blood sugar is elevated, but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes. It can usually be diagnosed through routine blood work. Your doctor may order a hemoglobin A1c, or HbA1c, test to see how high your blood sugar has been for about three months. The A1c range for prediabetes is between 5.7 percent and 6.4 percent; anything higher is considered type 2 diabetes.
Using the glycemic index (GI) can help you determine how a particular food will affect your blood sugar. Foods high on the GI will likely raise blood sugar quickly, while foods lower on the GI are less likely to cause blood sugar spikes. Knowing how food affects your blood sugar is crucial when you’re attempting to reverse a prediabetes diagnosis. It’s wise to keep a log of different foods and how they make you feel and affect your blood sugar.
The prediabetes diet
Sticking to a healthy diet is key to reversing a prediabetes diagnosis. Here are five healthy eating tips that are helpful for those with prediabetes.
- Avoid processed sugar. This includes sugary drinks, like soda or sports drinks. While sugar doesn’t necessarily directly cause diabetes, it does cause excess weight gain, which increases the likelihood of developing diabetes. This is especially true of extra weight around the midsection.
- Cut back on carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates wreak havoc on your blood sugar, causing spikes and dangerous dips hours after you’ve eaten. Stick to whole grains like quinoa, barley, and whole wheat pasta to keep your blood sugar steady.
- Minimize portions. Portions are often smaller than we think they are. For example, a portion of lean meat is about the size of a deck of cards. If you find you’re still hungry after a meal, try to fill up on non-starchy vegetables that are low on the GI, like Brussels sprouts, carrots, and cauliflower.
- Choose your fats wisely. Fat isn’t the enemy you might think it is, but it is important to choose your fats wisely. Healthy fats include olive and vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and avocado. However, even healthy fats should still be eaten in moderation.
- Fill up on high-fiber foods. Foods that are high in fiber take longer to digest and likely won’t cause spikes in blood sugar. This includes beans and legumes, fruits and vegetables with edible skins, and whole grains.
Prediabetes and exercise
Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand if you want to reverse a prediabetes diagnosis. Doctors recommend getting 150 minutes of exercise every week, or about 30 minutes 5 times per week. Exercising helps regulate blood sugar, so it’s recommended to exercise after meals. For example, a post-dinner walk is especially helpful to regulate blood sugar and digest food.
When it comes down to it, reversing a prediabetes diagnosis through diet and exercise is easier than dealing with type 2 diabetes your entire life. Adopting a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise can help you reverse a prediabetes diagnosis and stay healthy longer.