What exactly is prediabetes (and, a prediabetes diet)?
Prediabetes is a warning sign that you're heading toward Type 2 Diabetes. The good news is, you've caught it early enough to turn the train around and avoid letting your condition become worse. Before we start to make lifestyle changes, it is helpful to know exactly what prediabetes is. According to the American Diabetes Association, you have prediabetes if:
- Hemoglobin a1c is between 5.7-6.4%
- Fasting Blood Glucose is between 100-125 mg/dL
- Oral Glucose Tolerance Test 2 hours after eating reads between 140-199 mg/dL
Not familiar with this terminology? The a1c % is the percentage of your red blood cells carrying sugars. Blood sugars can also be measured in absolute terms, through a fasting glucose blood test or an oral glucose test.
Concerned you may be at risk?
Learn more about the five likely causes of prediabetes HERE.
So what does this mean?
These statistics typically measure insulin resistance, which means that your body is not using insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas in response to glucose. When your body is using insulin properly, the process looks like this:
Think of insulin as a key and your cells as a lock. In someone who does not have insulin resistance, insulin unlocks the cells so that glucose exits your blood stream and enters the cells for energy.
In someone with insulin resistance, it's as if the cells have changed the locks. Insulin can no longer interact with cells and be used as energy. Instead, the glucose remains in the blood stream, causing your blood sugar to remain high. As a result, these blood sugar levels appear on your lab tests.
Are there foods I should avoid in my prediabetes diet?
As part of your prediabetes diet, we recommend avoiding processed and refined foods as much as possible. These foods tend to be void of nutrients and have a high Glycemic Index, which can cause drastic spikes in your blood sugar. Try to eat these foods and ingredients sparingly:
- Highly Processed and Refined Foods
Processed and refined foods are extremely low in fiber and nutrients, which tends to absorb more quickly in the GI tract. These are the types of foods that cause drastic spikes in blood sugar. Replacing these foods with more nutrient-dense options will help prolong the release of glucose into the bloodstream.
- Trans fats
- White breads, pastas, and rice
- Packaged snack foods
- Foods High in Sugar and Sweeteners
Foods high in sugar and other sweeteners will cause a rapid spike in blood sugar, so avoiding these foods is important for prediabetes management. That being said, you may be wondering why fruit is still considered a "safe" food for managing prediabetes. Fruits are "OK" because the sugar type is natural (vs added) and is far less than you'll find in sweetened products. So instead of these foods, try incorporating some fresh fruits instead to satisfy your sweet tooth!
- Flavored coffee drinks
- Sweetened breakfast cereals
- Sugary drinks like soda
Interested in more details? Read our full blog on foods to avoid for prediabetes
So you just woke up, and all you can think about is making a delicious breakfast. But wait, will what you're craving help with your prediabetes? Don't worry, we've got you covered. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and fortunately there's so many ways to fit in nutritious foods and still make it delicious!
You started off the day feeling good after your prediabetes-friendly breakfast, but now it's time to think about lunch. You want to make something nutritious and delicious, but let's be honest, it has to be quick and easy too. Ain't nobody got time to spend hours making their lunch! Try out some of these simple, prediabetes-friendly recipes that will keep you full and satisfied through your busy day!
You made it! The last big meal of the day. You're probably wondering, "how could I possibly find ANOTHER prediabetes-friendly meal that is packed with nutrients and just as tasty as my breakfast and lunch?". Well, you've come to the right place. We've created some unbelievable dinner recipes that are sure to satisfy your cravings and your health goals.
What about the Dash Diet for prediabetes? Should I try it?
The DASH Diet was originally developed to treat hypertension. It's even in the name: Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension. Over time, researchers have found that DASH methods are also effective on improving prediabetes. In addition to its benefits on hypertension, the DASH framework improves insulin resistance and obesity/weight loss. Backed by the National Institutes of Health's Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the DASH plan is highly aligned with our general tips for an effective prediabetes diet:
- Whole grains
- And low-fat dairy foods
- Meat, fish, poultry
- Limited in sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, red meat, and added fats
Generally speaking, these foods are low in saturated fat, total fat, cholesterol, and sodium and high in potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and protein. Scientists developed the DASH diet through a series of smaller, specific studies. The DASH diet prescribes the food groups above based upon your gender and age.
Learn the DASH diet's specific recommendations in our detailed blog.
Here is the OnPoint approach to helping people build a successful prediabetes diet:
- Our prediabetes meal plans emphasize eating:
- Complex carbohydrates such as beans, vegetables and high-fiber starches
- High protein meats such as chicken, fish, and pork
- Various low glycemic index foods that can help regulate your blood sugar levels
- Our plans for people with diabetes take into consideration the time and how much food you are eating, so as to avoid natural spikes or crashes in your glucose levels
- We preach moderation, helping you to find realistic and achievable ways to reach your goals.
Backed by science
Our prediabetic programs are based upon the latest science and aligned with CDC protocols
Tailored just for you
Our nutritionists build your unique plan based upon your body type, food preferences, and lifestyle
Work with experts
Our team includes certified diabetes educators (CDEs) with hands-on experience working with prediabetic clients