In this article, I have listed a few dietary recommendations for prediabetes. It also includes foods that are excellent in lowering blood sugar. So, if you are looking for the best diet to lower blood sugar, read on. To learn more about prediabetes, you can read our article ‘Prediabetes – why should we be concerned?’
Table of contents
Prediabetes Diet – Healthy Eating
- As part of a prediabetes diet, partake foods that are moderately low in carbohydrates and take longer to digest. This helps prevent your blood sugars from rising from a large blast of glucose. Include fibre-rich foods, lean proteins, and foods with a low Glycaemic Index(GI). For example, vegetables, such as carrots, leafy greens, squash, corn, whole wheat pasta etc. have a low GI.
- Restrict your carbohydrates intake to about 1 cup (or two slices of bread) per meal.
- Protein slows the rate at which carbohydrates enter your bloodstream, keeping blood sugar levels steadier. Therefore, eating protein at every meal can help you feel full and reduce the urge to snack.
Food Table for Prediabetes diet
|Food Groups to Include||Nutrients Supplied||Food List|
|Whole grains||Fibre, Proteins, B Vitamins||Wholegrain bread, cereals and pasta; oatmeal; brown rice; red rice; parboiled rice; wholegrain barley; farro and quinoa; air-popped popcorn|
|Pulses & Legumes||Fibre, Protein, Potassium||Beans; split & black-eyed peas; lentils such as kidney, black garbanzo, and pinto beans; white mung; black pinto; chickpeas(garbanzo).|
Lentils: red, brown, green, French, etc.
Soybeans and soy products such as tofu, edamame and soy milk.
|Other protein foods||Proteins, vitamins, minerals||Lean meats, eggs, fish|
|Vegetables||Fibre, potassium, low-calorie, vitamins & other minerals||Green leafy vegetables – spinach, brussel sprout, celery, parsley, asparagus, artichoke.|
Other vegetables – radish, carrot, cucumber, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, turnip, parsnip, onion, tomato, snow peas, mushroom, aubergine/brinjal, courgette/zucchini, bell pepper, garlic, frozen vegetables ( no salt added).
Root vegetables – Sweet potatoes, Beetroot, yam, celery root, baby red and purple potatoes.
|Fruits||Fibre, potassium||Orange, grapefruit, kiwi, apple, pears, plums, peaches, apricots, nectarines, bananas, coconut, berries.|
|Reduced-fat dairy||Protein, calcium, potassium, vitamin-d||Plain yoghurt, skimmed milk, fat-free cottage cheese, low-fat cheese|
|Sea food||Protein, healthy fats, potassium||Salmon, shrimp, tuna, crab, clams, mackerel, herring, tilapia, pollock.|
|Seeds & Nuts||Seeds – Sunflower, pumpkin, flax, chia, hemp, sesame.|
Nuts – Almond, cashew, peanut, walnut, hazelnut, pecan, Brazil nut,
|Plant-based fats & oils||Healthy fats, fibre(except oil), protein (in peanuts, nuts & seeds)||Extra-virgin olive oil, avocado, natural peanut & nut butter, peanut, nut, seeds, flaxseed, vegetable oils.|
|Beverages||Water, low-calorie phytochemicals, minerals, vitamins||Water, decaffeinated black coffee, unsweetened tea without cream, water with mint, lime, lemon or cucumber.|
|Functional foods||Phytochemicals||Cinnamon, chia seeds, turmeric, flaxseeds, apple cider vinegar, garlic.|
How to sustain a prediabetes diet?
Incorporate the following practical points whilst starting your prediabetes diet. As a result, you will find it much easier to sustain your diet without feeling fatigued or defeated!
- Include the foods you love to eat in your diet.
- Allow for indulgences and special occasions. This way you can satisfy the occasional craving and fit in a party or work event without going off your diet plan or feeling guilty.
- Rely on “regular” foods and ingredients that your local supermarket has to offer.
- Adopt the motto, “Eat to live” and not “live to eat”
- Spend only the amount of time in the kitchen that you need to, rather than cooking elaborate dishes for all three meals.
- When you’re under physical stress, your blood sugar levels can increase. Managing mental stress is a key part of both weight loss and effective glucose control. It is important to practice breathing and relaxation techniques to help deal with daily stressors. Practice yoga or meditation for relaxation.
- Getting quality sleep (7-8 hours per night) is vital to health. Not getting enough quality sleep can increase stress hormones in the body, which can lead to elevated blood sugar levels. Too little sleep—less than seven hours a night—and poor sleep quality, can increase insulin resistance.
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule when possible. If you have insomnia or suffer from snoring (which could be a sign of sleep apnea) seek medical help.
- Adopt good sleep hygiene.
- Do not keep any electronic devices in the bedroom, keep your bedroom dark, cool and quiet.
- Do not eat food or drink alcohol late in the evening. Eating late at night is associated with elevated sugar levels in people with prediabetes. Hence it is always advisable to make lunch your largest meal and eat nothing starting three hours before bed.
Strictly adhere to portion control
The amount of food you eat is directly related to the rise in your blood sugar levels, mainly carbohydrate-containing foods. The problem is, the portion sizes we are used to eating are often much larger than the recommendation. Portion control can assist in weight loss, which we know helps reverse prediabetes. In addition to reading food labels, use measuring cups and spoons or household food scales to ensure you are eating an appropriate portion as part of a prediabetes diet.
Watch your body weight
What should be your ideal body weight?
- Broca index is a measure to easily estimate the ideal body weight of an individual. The formula used is
- Ideal body weight = Height(cm) – 100
- The modern scientific method relies on the Body Mass Index (BMI) which is
- BMI = Weight(kg)/Height in m2
A BMI of 18.5 – 24.9 is ideal. Above this is overweight and below this indicates underweight.
Foods to limit or avoid in a prediabetes diet
- Processed meats:
- Fried foods
- Fatty red meat and poultry with skin
- Solid fats such as lard and butter
- Refined grains (e.g., white bread, pasta, rice, and crackers, and refined cereals)
- Sweets (e.g., candy, cake, ice cream, pie, pastries, and cookies)
- Sugar-sweetened beverages, (e.g., soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, and sugar-sweetened coffee and tea beverages)
- Alcoholic beverages and mixed drinks
- Sugar-sweetened foods, such as flavoured yoghurt and oatmeal, and sugary condiments
- Dried fruit and fruit juice
The Glycaemic Index helps you pick foods that will not cause dramatic changes in blood sugar. The Glycaemic Index is a number that tells you how fast or how slow your body converts carbohydrates into blood sugar. The scale ranges from 1 to 100; for a prediabetes diet, the lower the number, the better:
- < 56 = Low
- 56 – 69 = Medium
- >69 = High
Research suggests that focusing on foods with low-glycaemic index carbohydrates and high fibre may protect against diabetes and cardiovascular disease. You can use food labels to estimate the Glycaemic Index value of a particular food.
The right diet for prediabetes will include
- Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits
- High protein lean meat such as meat, fish, poultry, pulses and beans
- Nuts and seeds
- Restrict sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, red meat and high-fat foods.